Chris Beard should make OSU fans grateful for Boynton’s extension

Chris Beard’s sudden departure from Texas Tech should give Oklahoma State basketball fans an appreciation for their head coach’s new contract extension.

Oklahoma State basketball fans can be forgiven if they were slightly skeptical of the recent announcement about head coach Mike Boynton and the seven-year contract extension, designed to keep the 39-year-old in Stillwater through the 2027-28 season.

Maybe you thought Boynton was too young to hand over the reins definitively. Maybe you pointed to the disappointing second-round NCAA Tournament loss to Oregon State for a Cowboys team that had much greater expectations. Maybe you’re concerned about the state of the program after the announced departure of All-America Cade Cunningham.

Any doubt in your mind, Cowboy fans, should be at rest after what we just witnessed in Lubbock, Texas, this week.

Look, I’m not sure if the Red Raider faithful expected Chris Beard to stay at the helm for the rest of his career. But when the 48-year-old announced that he was accepting the head coaching position at the University of Texas within a few days of Shaka Smart’s departure to Marquette, it was clear that I wasn’t the only one surprised.

It’s not quite clear to me exactly what lures Beard to Austin, Texas right now. Beard led the Red Raiders to the 2019 national championship game before falling in overtime to Virginia. The season before, Texas Tech had reached the Elite Eight under Beard.

Two Red Raiders went in the first round in the NBA Draft in consecutive years (Zhaire Smith in 2018 and Jarrett Culver in 2019, both to the Suns), dispelling any post-Andre Emmett notion that next-level talent can’t be recruited to West Texas.

Texas, on the other hand, hasn’t reached the Final Four since 2003, the program’s only appearance there since 1947. In the past 18 seasons, the Longhorns have only reached the Sweet 16 twice.

Beard was already making plenty of money at Texas Tech, and he has now signed a seven-year deal worth $35 million to coach the Longhorns. It could be the allure of more talent at Texas, or it could be the prestige, too. But it’s still strange to see a coach depart for a conference rival after just five seasons. Beard had even compiled an 8-5 record against the Longhorns while at Tech.

I may just be an Oklahoma State basketball supporter with Brad Underwood nightmares. When I see young, successful Mike Boynton in Cowboy orange while a legend retires in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, I start to wonder if our boss would bolt at the first offer at one of college basketball’s blue bloods.

Not that I consider Texas to be a “blue blood” in college hoops these days. Yes, the Longhorns have a brand identity and attract some awfully good talent, but how does a seemingly down-to-earth guy like Beard really make that decision in a matter of a few days?

Rest assured, OSU fans, it’s a good idea to snap up Boynton now. OSU basketball is on the upswing, and it’s not just about Cade Cunningham. Boynton is upbeat, well-respected by his players, and mindful of hoops traditions. He has OSU nationally relevant in a way not seen since the early 2000s under Hall of Famer Eddie Sutton.

Let’s just hope that $3 million a year is enough to keep him in Stillwater.