After leading his alma mater to a 12-1 record, its first-ever Big 12 championship, BCS bowl game and BCS bowl win, Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy was honored as the 2011 Paul "Bear" Bryant College Coach of the Year Award winner.
Gundy beat out the other seven finalists - Wisconsin's Bret Bielema, Baylor's Art Briles, Michigan's Brady Hoke, Stanford's David Shaw, Kansas State's Bill Snyder, Houston's Kevin Sumlin and Clemson's Dabo Swinney - for the award.
This is Gundy's third national coach of the year award for his work in 2011, as he was earlier named as the Eddie Robinson Award winner by the Football Writers Association of America and as the national coach of the year by American Football Monthly magazine.
Dating back to the start of the 2008 season, Gundy has led the Cowboys to 41 overall victories, which is the seventh-highest total in the nation during that time.
Gundy has coached 11 first-team All-Americans during his short head coaching career and four individual national award winners. And during his tenure, OSU has been firmly established as one of the most entertaining offensive teams in America. Four times in the last five years Oklahoma State has been among the nation's top 10 in total offense.
The Cowboys finished 2011 averaging 48.7 points per game. Only once in the last four years has OSU averaged less than 40 points per game. During that same time frame, OSU has churned out elite offensive talent. Offensive lineman Russell Okung, receiver Dez Bryant and tight end Brandon Pettigrew were all taken in the first round of recent NFL Drafts. Two-time Biletnikoff Award winner Justin Blackmon is likely to follow in their footsteps in April.
Records have been falling off the field as well. The 2011 Cowboys were supported like no other in school history as new school marks were set for season tickets (48,710) and average attendance (57,229). Four of the top five single-game attendance highs in school history came in 2011, including a record 58,895 for the thrilling win over Kansas State.
In 2010, Gundy's squad set a Big 12 record with nine first-team selections. While still in the infant stages of his head coaching career, Gundy's coaching tree has already blossomed. Former Gundy coordinators include Tim Beckman, newly named head coach at Illinois, Larry Fedora, newly named head coach at North Carolina, and West Virginia head coach Dana Holgorsen.
Under Gundy, Oklahoma State has won at least seven games in six-straight seasons for the first time ever and at least nine games in four straight seasons for the first time. In 2010 and 2011, OSU reached 11 wins in consecutive seasons for the first time in school history. The Cowboys are 23-3 over the last two seasons and Oklahoma State has the Big 12's best conference record since 2009 at 20-5. During that same time frame, OSU has been one of the country's best road teams with a 10-1 record. The Cowboys reached another milestone in 2011 with wins over five ranked teams.
Oklahoma State has reached the Associated Press top 10 in four consecutive seasons and climbed to an all-time high of second in 2011 before finishing in third. Under Gundy, OSU has not only set a school record for first-team all-league selections, but also for first-team academic all-conference selections.