I touched on it briefly in yesterday’s comments, but thought I’d flesh it out with a post today. What’s interesting about what happened yesterday between Oklahoma State’s head coach and its star running back isn’t the politics. It’s that Gundy, who’s got a history of making the kind of comments that can only come from a guy who feels untouchable in his job…
Gundy, as it turns out, has never been shy about telling us who he is. He’s bullied reporters in public, dismissed criticism of his coaching from fans online as “people sitting home drawing an unemployment check,” called players who transfer “snowflakes” and, more recently, wanted players to come back to campus in May amid the COVID-19 pandemic because the school needed to “run money through the state of Oklahoma.”
… suddenly has come face to face with a change in the wind, that players are feeling a sense of power. Consider that yesterday wasn’t Gundy’s first show of support for OAN.
In the middle of that rant in April, Gundy touted his viewership of OAN, which is known as a favorite news outlet of President Trump and peddler of absurd conspiracy theories.
Gundy said he had gravitated toward OAN because he “wasn’t happy with the way the mainstream media” has handled the coronavirus story and that OAN was “so refreshing” because “there’s no left, there’s no right, they just reported the news.”
Notably, at the time Gundy expressed those thoughts, he got no pushback from his players and only mild criticism from the school — not about OAN, but about his take that everybody needed to be back at work by May so the program could get back to making money. Not so yesterday, as Hubbard’s tweet ignited a firestorm of support for the player and criticism of the coach from a variety of sources.
Gundy felt it, too, as this joint message from him and Hubbard appeared within hours.
Gundy: “… I realized it’s a very sensitive issue with what’s going on in today’s society. … I’m looking forward to making some changes, that starts at the top with me, and we’ve got good days ahead.”
You can question the sincerity (he just now realized it?), but you can’t question the awareness. And if you’re focusing on the t-shirt instead of the reaction, you are missing the big picture, as David Hale explained.
Gundy has done well as a football coach at a place where it’s hard to do well.
Oklahoma State has put up with plenty from Gundy during his 15-year tenure, mostly because he wins at a place where that isn’t terribly easy. His record is 129–64, with six seasons of 10 or more wins.
That’s how you start feeling untouchable, and for the most part, that’s how Gundy has been treated. It’s a different world now, though. We’ll see how easily he adapts. And if he doesn’t feel he needs to do more than offer a few sympathetic words, they’ll let him know about that on the recruiting trail.
One other question remaining is how many others out there are like Gundy?
- It’s a different world now.
- Would Gundy have done this had Hubbard not tweeted?