As first reported by CBSSports’ Gary Parrish, Brad Underwood is set to become the next head coach at Oklahoma State. Underwood is fresh off his third NCAA Tournament with the Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks, of whom he was the head coach for the past three seasons. SFA was Underwood’s first head coaching job and during his tenure, his Lumberjacks went 89-14 overall, 53-1 in the Southland Conference and won the regular season and conference tournament in each season.
One conference loss in three years is one of the more dominant runs by any head coach in recent history, but perhaps more impressive is that Underwood won an NCAA Tournament game in two of three appearances his teams earned. The Lumberjacks were eliminated in heart-breaking fashion on Sunday following a tip-in game winner from Notre Dame in the closing seconds. The moment the Lumberjacks season ended, the buzz around Underwood and Oklahoma State took off. It took barely a day for that buzz to come to fruition.
Oklahoma State fired head coach Travis Ford after a 12-20 (3-15) finish in the Big 12 this past season. Ford was the head man at OSU for eight seasons, leading the Cowboys to five NCAA Tournaments where he won just one game in total. Just twelve years ago, the Cowboys were in the Final Four with legendary head coach Eddie Sutton. This splashy hire may be just what the Oklahoma State program needs to get things moving back in that direction.
Underwood is a Kansas State alum who spent time as an assistant coach at Western Illinois, Kansas State and South Carolina before getting the SFA job. He also spent time as a community college head coach, at Dodge City CC (1988-1992) and Daytona Beach CC (2003-2006). He’s a native of McPherson, Kansas and has a good track record recruiting in Big 12 country. He spent one season at Kansas State coaching under Bob Huggins, who is now the head coach at conference foe West Virginia. Underwood stayed on staff at KSU under new head coach Frank Martin and followed Martin to South Carolina in 2012.
The Cowboys’ recent downslide has coincided with the rise of the Oklahoma program under Lon Kruger. The Sooners have beaten the Cowboys in seven straight games, with OSU’s last win being in 2013. This is no doubt a point of contention for alumni and boosters. Underwood seems to be the hottest mid-major coaching prospect this season, so landing him is obviously a huge win for OSU.