I didn't write about Mike Gundy's tirade in The Sunday Oklahoman because I thought Oklahoma State football fans deserved better. They deserved to read about one of the wildest games in OSU history and certainly one of the most important wins in Gundy's three-year head-coaching career. But a day later, the outburst and what led to it demands discussion. Gundy was enraged by Jenni Carlson's column on Bobby Reid in the Saturday Oklahoman. We don't like to be the story. We hate to be the story. But we became the story. Did Gundy make some good points? Absolutely. The manner in which collegiate athletes are covered in the media is an excellent topic, worthy of discussion. I don't buy all of Gundy's argument that college athletes are immune from scrutiny. You can't on one hand treat football players like princes, with everything from opulent training tables to enrollment favors, then claim they're just regular students. I didn't agree with all of Carlson's column about Reid's attitude and toughness, which is not particularly unique. A whole batch of people rarely agree with all of mine. But Gundy holds some responsibility for the events that led to the volcano Saturday night. He has not been truthful about the quarterback situation, and that's led to confusion, questions and speculation. Being dishonest with us — which means being dishonest with his very own fans — is not the proper way to do business. As for Gundy's method and timing, what was he thinking? Yes, he embarrassed Carlson and The Oklahoman, but he also embarrassed himself, taking away from a glorious victory. It was a PR blunder, and I think Gundy probably knows that. Sunday, he said he regrets only shooting from the hip, instead of preparing a statement. Gundy said he didn't read the column until after the game, though he had heard about it because OSU personnel confiscated all the newspapers from their usual place at the team brunch Saturday morning. "I wouldn't change a whole lot about it,” Gundy said. That's unfortunate, because Gundy did not come off looking good. Oklahoman sports editor Mike Sherman said Sunday he stands behind Carlson and said reasonable people can disagree about how this column was handled and how college athletes should be covered. Carlson said Sunday: "I stand behind my column. Being questioned is part of being a columnist, but I am certain of the facts in this column.” Much of this row stems from the growing divide between the public and college athletic programs. Truth is, it's probably a divide that's always been there for other newsmakers. Entertainers, politicians, whoever. But sports and the media historically had a better relationship. Coaches and writers, athletes and broadcasters. The ultimate goal wasn't world peace or global domination. Some guys played ball, and a whole lot of people were interested in who won. That was the depth of the enterprise. Of course, that's changed. I don't know if it was Watergate or high salaries or ESPN or the Internet or all of the above. But a growing wall now exists. Media is more intrusive and analytical than ever before; coaches are more secretive and controlling than ever before, which frankly is at odds with fans being asked to pay prices exponentially higher than in decades past for the privilege of following their teams. An hour after his meltdown, Gundy chatted with me, a good, cordial conversation in which his attitude hadn't changed but his demeanor had. He said he was through with our paper. I hope that's not true. I've known Mike Gundy for 22 years. Known him since we both were kids. He was a Midwest City senior, trying to decide between OSU and OU, and I was a cub reporter at the Norman Transcript. I liked him then, I like him now, though it wasn't very easy Saturday night. If Gundy had shown the fire on the sidelines at Troy that he showed in dressing down Carlson, OSU football would be the better for it. I know Jenni Carlson better. I hired her eight years ago when I was sports editor. She is a good person. A good journalist. Her work ethic would rival football coaches'. Did her Reid column miss the mark? I doubt it. Could she have written it differently? No doubt. We all regret when everyone is talking about a writer and a coach and a press conference, after a ballgame in which Brandon Pettigrew and Zac Robinson and Jacob Lacey and Nathan Peterson and Dantrell Savage and Graham Harrell and Michael Crabtree and Danny Amendola made us stand up and cheer. Made us remember why we are so passionate about this thing called sport. I hope we can restore our relationship with Gundy. Ironic thing is, if you chronicled the 100-plus years of Oklahoman sports pages, and ranked all the personalities on how well they've been treated, Mike Gundy would be in the top five. He was sticking up for his player. I respect that. I think he erred in how he did it, but I don't begrudge that he did it. But Gundy needs to know that building higher walls will not solve anything. Building higher walls creates, rather than reduces, problems. Building higher walls is not the answer in this new age of sport.
A recent column in The Oklahoman upset OSU coach Mike Gundy on Saturday night. BY MATT STRASEN, THE OKLAHOMAN