One year ago, Oklahoma State and its fans were in a cautiously optimistic position.
Finally, the Travis Ford contract-sized cloud looming over Stillwater seemed to be dissipating. A new head coach was being sought and one of the names championed for it was as polarizing to the fan base as Mike Yurcich’s offense finishing top-20 in scoring for two straight years.
Many wanted Doug Gottlieb as the head man, but when Brad Underwood took the job, he really took the job. There were few naysayers after his introductory press conference at Gallagher-Iba Arena.
It was quite a show.
Underwood said all of the right things. He tugged at the heartstrings of fan base desperate for a fresh start with notions of Mr. Iba’s ghost nodding in approval as he welcomed in all the alums who had stayed away for nearly a decade.
And Underwood’s on-the-court results cast little doubt on his ability to coach and captain OSU’s program. He won the players. He won the fans. He did everything you would want him to do in his first year — except stay.
Sure, we can point to his first-round loss to Michigan and draw comparisons to Travis Ford. But’s that’s revisionist history. If the media bomb of March 18 hadn’t occurred, no one’s making that remark.
What did we expect in his first year? A Sweet 16? The truth is that his team lost a game they should have won because Michigan went cheat code from 3 in the second half.
The question of Underwood’s intentions, or Holder’s for that matter, does not change the state of the OSU fan base when they woke up on Sunday morning. The optimism has left the room and the Travis Ford cloud is peeking over the horizon.
Where do you go from here? Kyle Porter really nailed it in his 10 Thoughts about the corner Mike Holder has painted himself into. Who is the answer? Do you simply lower your standards and start from scratch? Do you just call Doug?
This IS the biggest gaffe on Mike Holder’s record — unless he somehow loses Mike Gundy. I think it’s worse than the Travis Ford contract. At least with that we could somewhat understand the big contract after suitors came calling.
This has an overall worse stench of not being in control. Either a) Holder can’t get along with his coaches or b) OSU just got big-timed by a mid-level Big 10 program. Neither is a good look.
This next hire may not be his most important, but it will certainly be under the most scrutiny.
Underwood’s one year in Stillwater got GIA rocking again. It was a much-needed shot in the arm. Holder’s charge is to make sure it wasn’t just a shot of starting fluid. She was purring. But once the fumes ran thin, she stalled out.
Mike Holder may find that once it dies, it’s much harder to restart.