With a 24-17 loss to an interim-coached Wisconsin in the Guaranteed Rate Bowl on Dec. 27, Oklahoma State capped off a stretch of five losses in six games to close its 2022 season -- the worst campaign in Stillwater, Oklahoma, since 2018. Afterwards, Cowboys coach Mike Gundy took out his frustrations at a reporter who asked him a basic question about staff changes heading into the offseason.
"I might have to cut you out. Don't be an ass," Gundy fired back. "Those are people's lives. Don't mess with people's families ... I'm not mad about the game, I just don't like ignorance."
There has not been a single staff dismissal in the four weeks following Gundy's outburst, which punctuated a disappointing 7-6 season. An offense that once ranked top 25 nationally for five straight seasons just posted its second year outside the top 50. What had been a team with NFL-caliber players turned into one that didn't land a single offensive player on the All-Big 12 team. The defense was even worse, finishing among the bottom 20 programs nationally in yardage allowed.
For most of the 2010s, Gundy has been untouchable. His program won at least nine games eight times between 2008-17. In October 2021, Gundy signed a "perpetual" five-year contract that automatically renews annually and amounts to a "lifetime deal." Since that incredible run, complacency has set in. The Cowboys have won more than nine games just once since 2017. Gundy has not fired a key assistant since Glenn Spencer in 2017 and hasn't fired an offensive assistant of any type since offensive line coach Greg Adkins.
Right as the program has faced its toughest challenges, Gundy has doubled down.
Offensive coordinator and receivers coach Kasey Dunn has received the majority of the criticism, but problems persist across the board. The offensive line has struggled under veteran assistant Charlie Dickey. No running backs primarily recruited by John Wozniak have earned All-Big 12 honors. The tight ends had fewer than 10 combined catches under Jason McEndoo.
Only Iowa State performed worse on the ground than Oklahoma State in yards, yards per carry and rushing touchdowns. Ultimately, no steps were taken to rectify the staff issues; every assistant was brought back. Short of swapping former defensive coordinator Jim Knowles for Derek Mason after the former left for Ohio State, the on-field staffs were identical at Oklahoma State from 2019-22, an eternity in the coaching world.
Mason also represents the only voluntary staff change. He opted not to re-up his one-year contract, announcing instead that he was taking coaching sabbatical one year after taking a $400,000 pay cut to leave Auburn. Gundy has since replaced the former Vanderbilt head coach with Bryan Nardo, an assistant at Division II Gannon University without any D-I play-calling experience.