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Dr. Saturday

Mike Gundy almost went to Tennessee in part because he disagreed with two tough OSU non-conference games

Frank Schwab
Dr. Saturday

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(USA Today Sports Images)

There are a lot of reasons Mike Gundy considered leaving Oklahoma State for Tennessee this offseason, of course.

And he was close to leaving, as CBSSports.com's Jeremy Fowler's story on Gundy points out. Gundy provided details about his kids starting to research Knoxville, and Tennessee putting on a full-court press that included Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam. The Volunteers badly wanted him to succeed Derek Dooley, who was fired after the season.

“At some point, that's where we thought we were going to go,” Gundy told CBSSports.com.

And, according to Fowler's report, one thing Gundy seriously considered as he contemplated leaving Oklahoma State was his philosophical opposition to a couple of tough non-conference season-opening games for the Cowboys in 2013 and 2014.

Yes, with neutral-site games against Mississippi State in 2013 and Florida State in 2014 on the OSU schedule, Gundy almost went to Tennessee to avoid those contests.

Gundy didn't think the games helped Oklahoma State's chances of winning a national title (“I felt if what I was saying to recruits wasn't coming true, then I couldn't do the job and I needed to go somewhere else,” Gundy said, to CBSSports.com), Fowler reported, especially with a nine-game conference schedule.

[Also: Will QB Matt Barkley get drafted in the first round?]

At many schools, the athletic director schedules non-conference games. And those two games in question will be huge paydays for Oklahoma State. But the games – and the bigger picture issue that he didn't want to be stuck with more games he didn't want in the future – were a big deal to Gundy, who when he decided to stay with the Cowboys, wanted to have a discussion with athletic director Mike Holder about future scheduling.

“I just think we felt like in the long run this was as good an opportunity as any if we could come to some agreement,” Gundy said to Fowler. "I think we did come to some agreements. We have long-range plans. I just needed to know what the plan was. That way, no matter what it was, I knew going in what it was. I have to feel comfortable with that.”

Holder told the Tulsa World months ago that he would maintain the final say on scheduling, but that the games in 2013 and 2014 are the only ones he and Gundy have disagreed on.

Again, there wasn't one thing that was pulling Gundy toward Tennessee, and there wasn't one thing that kept Oklahoma State there. But nobody would have guessed a couple of non-conference games would have been on Gundy's pros and cons list.

So the next time your favorite coach is considering leaving for a new job, or actually leaves, remember that the reasons behind the decision might include things you would never believe.

- - -
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