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Opinion: I’m disappointed in Mike Gundy

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Gundy had a opportunity today that he didn’t seize.

Academy Sports + Outdoors Texas Bowl - Oklahoma State v Texas A&M Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

In a teleconference Tuesday, Mike Gundy set a date that he wants his players and staff back in Stillwater to prepare for the 2020 season.

(Here’s a link to a transcript)

Mike Gundy is a highly respected individual and coach, but this was not something to trot out in public. Just because they’re young and healthy doesn’t mean they can survive exposure to a virus that is currently responsible for a death rate of 4.6% in Oklahoma, one of the highest rates in the United States (higher than NY).

Let’s run through a scenario...

You bring players back, have them all tested. They test negative. You can quarantine them and then test them again. Then you can make them essentially go from the training table, to practice, to their dorms. But do you trust an entire football team to never break the rules? Do you expect players to just say “Okay cool I’ll do whatever you say.” *gestures to students who went on spring break*

How would you patrol that, what would that look like? You could threaten them with their spot on the team, but what kind of message does that send?

What kind of message does it send having the team come back when thousands of students aren’t allowed on campus? Maybe students stuck in Stillwater that aren’t allowed to travel home? (Hi....I’m one of those.)

I know Gundy isn’t saying “I don’t care, have them all come back right now,” however I think talking about specific dates is just not responsible. It sends a mixed signal, especially since the Big 12 has prohibited team related activity until at least June 1.

In comparison here’s a quote from Iowa State’s Matt Campbell.

“We had 123 kids that were going to go through the spring here and now some of them are having to worry about the health and well being of their families or some of them have parents that are really struggling because of what’s going on economically,” Campbell said. “We even had a couple kids where it was safer for them to stay here instead of go home.

“Football has been on the back burner of my mind, in all honesty. I’ve spent less time thinking about football in the last three weeks than I ever have in my life. That’s why I say staying connected daily with all of your players to see what’s going on — because things are changing so rapidly every day is so important. That’s where we spend our time. We need to make sure we stay present in their lives because these are tough times for 18-22 year-olds.” {Cyclone Alert}

Think about that for a second.

Which quote would you want coming from your head coach?

We all know that Gundy would take a bullet for his players. (Just Google Gundy rant). Where was that Gundy today? I feel like that energy was such a needed aspect. Gundy is human, just wanting to get back to business as usual like the rest of us. However, when you’re in the position he’s in there needs to be more self-awareness and ability to read a room than we saw.

I don’t think Gundy meant harm by what he said. Gundy has proven he is a coach that cares about his players. But I think he didn’t focus on the right aspects of what’s happening today.

The school has already released and official statement related to Gundy’s comments:

Our head ball coach needs to make a statement of his own. Let me make myself clear, I’m not asking for an apology. More of a “do better next time”

I’m disappointed that Gundy missed an opportunity to show more compassion and empathy.