Is OSU football a Top 25 Coaching Gig?
Here’s what others have to say about OSU’s football program and how it ranks nationally:
247 Sports – unranked
Athlon Sports – No. 22
ESPN – “Tier 3,” between No. 19 – No. 33
Bleacher Report – unranked
It seems that there’s some disagreement nationally as to whether or not OSU ranks in the Top 25 as a football program overall. 247Sports and Bleacher Report don’t list teams beyond the Top 25 and did not the Cowboys. Athlon Sports put OSU at No. 22, and ESPN’s nebulous definition allows the possibility that OSU could be as high as No. 19 or as low as No. 33.
Here’s why I think that the Cowboys definitely belong among the 25 best football programs in the nation.
In the last two decades, head coaches Les Miles and Mike Gundy have transformed the program into winners. Sure, OSU isn’t winning conference championships in bunches and hasn’t been a true national title contender in the past nine seasons, but this is far from an average or mediocre power conference program.
In 2008, Mike Gundy’s fourth year, the Cowboys had a breakout season and finished with a 9-4 record. It was the highest win total since 2005 and resulted in a first-round NFL draft pick (Brandon Pettigrew) for the first time since 2004.
Since 2008, OSU ranks No. 9 among all power conference teams in terms of overall wins. They’ve compiled a 119-48 record in those 13 seasons, a mark only bettered by 10 other teams — Alabama, Ohio State, Boise State, Oklahoma, Clemson, Oregon, LSU, Georgia, Appalachian State, and Wisconsin.
The donations of T. Boone Pickens represent a major uptick in funding of the OSU athletic program, and his namesake renovated stadium around Lewis Field (in addition to state-of-the-art practice facilities, etc.) are a testament to the commitment of OSU boosters. OSU fans notably travel well, as indicated by numerous recent bowl games featuring the Cowboys. Fan attendance isn’t too shabby, either, with OSU ranking No. 28 in the nation in terms of average attendance from the 2019 season.
In terms of head coach salaries, Gundy is tied for the No. 25-highest salary in the nation with Virginia Tech’s Justin Fuente, with both coaches due to make $4.25 million per annum.
There’s a clear path to the next level through Stillwater, too, as indicated by the 20 OSU players who have gone in the NFL Draft over the past decade (including three first-round picks).
Lastly, OSU is located near the fertile high school recruiting grounds of Texas — and especially near the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex. While playing second fiddle to the Sooners in the state keeps the Cowboys from winning many conference titles or breaking through on the national stage these days, the program as a whole is objectively one of the nation’s 25 strongest.