‘We Offered Him a Great Package’: Gundy Talks Knowles’ Departure

STILLWATER — Mike Gundy said he called Jim Knowles the night of the Big 12 Championship game to tell him he did a good job, told him Oklahoma State was going to take care of him and pay him whatever he wanted, to a certain extent. From there, Gundy said it was in the hands of agents and administration.

Three days later, news had broke that Ohio State paid Knowles a large sum of money to be the Buckeyes’ next defensive coordinator. ESPN’s Adam Rittenberg reported that Knowles would make $1.9 million annually at Ohio State after making $800,000 annually at Oklahoma State. Gundy said Oklahoma State offered Knowles a significant raise, but it just wasn’t enough.

Gundy publicly spoke on Knowles’ departure for the first time Monday.

“We offered him the highest package that anybody’s ever had around here — and we got outbid considerably,” Gundy said. “We have a limitation here, to a certain extent, to keep everybody kind of tied into the same salary scale.”

In this era of coaching salary inflation, Knowles earned his raise. He led one of the best defenses in program history. The Cowboys lead the country in sacks and tackles for loss. They are third nationally in total defense and eighth in scoring defense.

The Cowboys held 12 of their 13 opponents to fewer than 25 points, with Bedlam rival Oklahoma being the only exception at 33 points. Oklahoma State shutout Texas Tech, the first time the Pokes shut out a conference foe since 1995.

Knowles had grown a close relationship with his players. Brock Martin tweeted out after the Big 12 Championship that OSU should write Knowles a blank check. Gundy said he joked with Martin that Martin should give his wife a blank check.

“I talked about Jim [with the team] for 20 seconds,” Gundy said, “and I said, ‘I wanted Jim here. We offered him a great package. He chose to go to Ohio State. Business is business. But here’s what it comes down to: Tay Martin, you’re playing for Oklahoma State. We’re paying you 800 grand. Tyler Junior College calls you and says they’ll pay you 2.38 million if you want to go play for them. You can stay here or you can go play for Tyler. It’s your choice.’ Then I said, ‘Does anybody have any questions? Alright guys, let’s go practice.’”

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