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Berry Tramel


Oklahoma State football: Emails in on Mike Gundy

by Berry Tramel Modified: May 22, 2013 at 1:35 pm •  Published: May 22, 2013

I received a ton of emails on my Mike Gundy column in the Monday Oklahoman, which you can read here. I criticized Gundy for putting so many restrictions on Wes Lunt transferring. Here was the response:

Bart: “You are probably ready to get it from both sides regarding your story on Mike Gundy’s. Not from me. Even though Bob Stoops seemed more insensitive than I think he intended, it sounds and looks bad enough to warrant critique. Gundy’s intent seems to be punitive at worst and at best petty.”

I don’t know if Gundy is being petty. I think it’s more likely he’s trying to protect OSU as best he can. But Gundy looks petty, and I think that could harm his own reputation and the Cowboys’, in the long run. 

Marc: “Great article. Would Lunt win if he were to sue for the right to accept an immediate scholarship to the school of his choice? I like OSU and I like Gundy, but he has erred mightily on this one. And it could damage his future recruiting.”

I think Lunt would eventually win — but it would be so time-consuming, it would be moot. That’s one of the problems with collegiate athletes’ lawsuits — the time frame just doesn’t work. Almost the same for NFL players, who have shortened careers. A baseball player can afford an interruption to his career. Not so with a football player.

Mike: “Besides the moral and ethical issues of Coach Gundy’s decision, this sure smacks of the 1960′s baseball issues and Curt Flood. Shame on the coach for being afraid of competition.”

Like I said, baseball is a great example. Curt Flood was willing to sit out a season. But for a college football player to sue, his career could be over by the time the case is settled. What players need is a lawsuit on the front side — a freshman, for example, suing for the right to enter the NFL Draft before the end of his third season. Maybe he wins by his sophomore year. I have little doubt that he would win.

David: “The take on West Lunt was one of your best. Payback and revenge are not good banking collateral for prospective players.”

Gundy does come out looking bad. He has to hope that a lot of people didn’t notice.

Dick: “Your article today is a good reminder that it is time for universities to assume more control over their various employees. Simply because a gym teacher is outrageously overpaid does not mean that he should be the ‘untrammeled’ spokesperson for a university (let alone a sole decision-maker as to important matters). When Jim Welch was running GE, you never saw underlings being quoted in the press.”

I don’t know anything about General Electric, but I do know that it perplexes me how football coaches are left unfettered. There’s no question that OSU president Burns Hargis should step in on this one. Or that Gundy’s actions conflict directly with Mike Holder’s repeated pronouncements that schools ought to put the needs of student-athletes first.

Chris: “Great article this morning! A group of guys I was with yesterday were discussing the same thing. Is there something there that I am not seeing? What is Gundy scared of?”

I don’t know that he’s scared. I think he’s probably trying to send a message. Leaving here won’t be easy. Don’t go giving it strong consideration.

Monty: “Your piece about Gundy’s decision to restrict Wes Lunt’s options is spot on. Gundy and Stoops are two overpaid tone deaf egos.”

I have no inside knowledge on the tone deafness of Stoops or Gundy.

Jacklynn: “Get your information straight. I’m sure you have no information on OU about these things. Or will not report them. Tacky reporting on your part. Shame on you.”

I emailed Jacklynn back and asked her what I got wrong. I’m still waiting.

Reg: “Spot on with this column. Right on the money. Gundy essentially saying this kid isn’t good enough to be our starter, but we aren’t going to let anyone else have him either. Completely unfair to Wes Lunt. Hope Coach G doesn’t call a presser today and show with a copy of the paper. Take cover.”

I think Gundy bungled the Lunt situation long before the transfer. Back in December, when he basically anointed Clint Chelf the 2013 starter. What was Lunt supposed to think? The transfer should come as no big shock .

Mike: “From a lifelong OSU fan (remember reading about Walt Garrison in the Daily Oklahoman in the ‘60s), spot on with today’s article on Gundy. The guy is scared, selfish, clueless, or a bit of all three. Seems scared of competition (scheduling) and just a jerk with player management. I’ll never know the pressures of Cowboy Nation expectations and relationships with an AD and CEO of Cowboy Athletic Operations (Boone), but he’s way off the mark as to reasonableness. Much better approach would be to work with the kid to find a solution that is best for him. Switzer and Aikman compared to Gundy and Lunt is a good comparison. When was the last time you heard a college player say, ‘he made me a better person as well as a better player.’ It ain’t happenin’ in Stillwater.”

I don’t know anything about personal development. But I assume Gundy didn’t really want to cooperate Lunt, ala Switzer/Aikman, because Gundy might have harbored some hope that Lunt would return. On the other hand, act like this, and it’s not enticing Lunt back.

Todd: “It just totally disgusts me how you and all your colleagues at the Daily Oklahoman look for anything you can to report negative when it comes to OSU football. Your reporting on Mike Gundy and OSU football just literally screams of being biased towards Bob Stoops and OU football. You know damn good and well that your articles are read by many in-state and out-of-state readers and you are trying your best along with your other journalists to bring down and limit the success of OSU football. When is the last time you slammed Bob Stoops publicly for anything he has done down in Norman. If you go outside your little hole there in OKC where biased journalism towards OU doesn’t exist and ask who is a hotter coach on a national scale you will find that Gundy is far hotter than your boy Bob Stoops. Bob inherited tradition and the ability to recruit superior athletes but when it comes to playing equal talent his record is anything but impressive. Sure he wins against lesser talent and has done well in overall win loss category, but OU is on a decline nationally while OSU continues to climb and you guys that have long standing ties with OU are scared to death. Mike Gundy is one hell of a coach and the state of Oklahoma is lucky to have him coaching at the OSU. Why don’t you write that as headline tomorrow and try for once to write something positive about OSU football. Damn Barry you don’t even try to hide it, do you?”

OK, Todd. Thanks for showing everyone what a true conspiracy theorist looks like. Now, if anyone has the stomach for it, go back and re-read Todd’s rant. Find one shred of defense for what Gundy did. It’s not there. The guy is not upset with what I wrote. He’s upset THAT I wrote it. And by the way, I took Stoops to task just a month or two ago about his “hungry Sunday” comment and how no one wants to hear a coach making $5 million a year tell kids to lump it. Conspiracy theorists are not close readers and do not have well-developed memories.

Alan: “Liked your article on Gundy and his limiting Lunt’s transfer options. I have been a Mike Gundy fan for some time, especially his ‘I’m a MAN. I’m 40!! Tirade.’ Respected his defense of a young man back then at a most vulnerable time in his life. However, my support of Gundy is beginning to dissipate. Power and entitlement have a way of changing far too many people in today’s world, particularly athletics. Unfortunately, a young man that has fallen unto hard times receives the brunt of all this. If a young man attempts to wreck a program, then, so be it, but such is not the case with Lunt. Just give the kid yours and HIS blessings and move on. The forwarding PR will only enhance your program and the university for years to come. Gundy has a certain moral responsibility to OSU and all that the institution entails. And, sometimes one man can ‘hold way too many cards.’ My answer to this is simple… can never be wrong by doing the right thing.”

Great final point. Just do the right thing. A kid wants to leave, you’ve got to let him leave. If you want to put a few restrictions on him, like you’d rather not play against him, OK. Seems silly, but OK. But to restrict as many as 30 schools from offering a scholarship? That’s punitive.

Steve: “Your article on Gundy was on the money. Gundy should let him leave to any school that will have him. This is another hit on a guy that has had some embarrassing hits. His ‘I am a man’ bit was fake and full of BS. I read later he didn’t treat that QB (Bobby Reid) well, either, on that situation.”

On the other hand, Reid has joined the OSU football staff.

Richard: “Berry, couldn’t agree more. And as you know, I’m an OU fan. My problem with OSU athletics is the constant ‘in your face’ attitude. I won’t bore you with examples. Having said that, again, I agree with your points, even the Stoops example.”

I have no idea what in-your-face attitude is. I see insufferable personalities on both sides of Bedlam. A couple in this email bag.

Schmitt: “Have to agree with you on all points. This makes Gundy look baaaad. I wonder how in the world Holder or Pickens didn’t steer him away from this land mine. He won’t listen to Holder, but to Boone he would just say, ‘Yes, sir!’ I wonder if Boone will approve another staged rant to make him look like a player’s coach again. (‘I’m a man, I’m 46, I can change my mind if I want to.’) Better tell Jenni to watch out.”

I don’t know that Gundy listens to Boone all that much. Maybe he does, but I’d be surprised.

Del: “Your column on Mike Gundy preventing Wes Lunt from transferring willy nilly and possibly starting against OSU next season is misguided. First you say you ‘understand the reasons for the rule,’ followed by ‘There is no good reason for this rule.’ What?? As you well understand, the reason for this rule is evident– if they didn’t have it, it opens your program up to revolt of the disgruntled teeny’s on an annual basis. Every season you’d have the possibility of half a dozen or more unhappy backups transferring to an in-state or conference rival because they’re miffed at not being named starters. Chaos would ensue. Letters of intent would mean nothing. Gundy is exactly right in taking this stance. And it’s a great rule. If Wes Lunt or any other of the Great Disgruntled wants to transfer to any school in the country — no problem. But have them sit out a year as the rule requires. What about that is unfair? A student athlete signs a contract. As in the real world there ought to be some ramification for breach. You laid an egg on this one. And comparing Gundy to entertaining other offers with the Lunt situation is apples and oranges.”

Del, what we have here is a failure to communicate. Actually, that’s being nice. You didn’t read the column closely enough. I said I understand the reason for the lack of free agency in college football, though I still would like to see players transfer and be eligible immediately. What I don’t understand is the necessity for the rule that allows coaches to restrict from whom a transferring player can receive a scholarship offer.

Roger: “Totally agree. The coach can go where and when he wants to, but you limit a young man’s college choice because… Sounds hypocritical to me. I like OSU, but Coach Gundy is plain wrong. DiNozzo (reference to NCIS character) needs a smack on the back of his head. He needs to get over himself and be a man and let the young man go and live his dream at a college of his choosing, not Coach Gundy’s.”

I’ve never watched NCIS myself. Not one single time.

Johnny: “Great article. His arrogance seems to know no limits. Your headline writer must have flirted with the idea of substituting ‘man’ for ‘guy,’ since we all know that Gundy is a ‘Man…..40!’”

Think about how easy it is to remember how old Gundy is. All you have to do is know that the rant occurred in 2007, and presto, you’re set. Gundy was 40 in September 2007.

Ben: “How dare he pull a stunt like that? Only an egocentric, arrogant ass would do such. Don’t let him forget.”

Well, the rules do allow it. That doesn’t mean you have to enforce the rule, but the rule allows it.

Forrest: “If you keep a history of people that pen you, you know I’m a big favorite of yours. I try to write you when I think you wrote a GREAT article. Sometimes there’s other issues. Today’s coverage of Gundy’s latest Boo-Boo is why I’m writing to make 2 points. 1) Another good article you’ve written today titled ‘Bad form, Mike Gundy.’ You’re simply great, Berry. 2) Further evidence of pro-OU bias in the DOK. Let me explain. Why did the DOK wait until today’s special Monday’s sports edition — a big football 2014 recruiting issue — to cover this thing? Also, why did OSU get the entire front page of the sports page today? I’ll tell you why — because the DOK had a chance to put OSU in a negative light. I’ll admit, a legit reason, but would you have done the same to Bob Stoops? NO. NO WAY. If Stoops had stubbed his PR toe, it would not have been full front page coverage in a negative slam, like today’s paper is, in a football recruiting issue. In conclusion, while your article is right-on, the amount of publicity, and the timing of the article and the front page dominance of the issue, shows an agenda. I know, you’re not in control of space coverages, so I do not blame you. But I wish to beef and I know complaining doesn’t work to some. It might to you, because I know you’re fair minded and you just write great articles.”

More conspiracy theorists. At least this shows that they’re not all kooks. But here’s where Forrest is all wrong. Let me give you the entire list of people involved in the decision to run the Mike Gundy column in Monday’s paper. Me. Me, myself and I. And then the sports editor, on Sunday afternoon, after I told him. But me. And here’s why. The Gundy/Lunt story broke late last week, Thursday or Friday. I was writing Thunder stuff all week (and all month, for that matter). The first break I had for a non-Thunder column was Monday. I had no idea that we were running our top 30 recruit list in Monday’s paper (which hardly qualifies as a big recruiting issue). And besides, it’s not 1967. College football coaches don’t recruit out of the newspaper anymore. Any college recruit who is interested in my column reads it the night before on the internet. So this let’s-kill-OSU’s-recruiting stuff is just nonsense.

Brett: “Awesome job on the Gundy piece. As you could probably tell through the many emails I’ve sent you, I’m a very proud OSU alumnus and fan, but bullying is bullying and hypocrisy is hypocrisy. Hopefully the publicity will force them to do the right thing, although I won’t be holding my breath.”

Bullying is a good word for it. A very good word.

Don: “Maybe there is another reason why! Think it might be personal? Regardless, a fuss should not have happened. Personally think Lunt is showing he lacks ability to compete. He is also injury-prone. Coaches have to be able to know they can count on a QB even if hurting. Every college player believes they are best, if they don’t they don’t need to be there. There is more to this story!”

You’re probably right. There probably is more to this story. But if Lunt is such a wuss — lacks the ability to compete, injury-prone, etc. — why in the world does anyone care where he goes?

Bob: “Your article today on Mike Gundy was right on target. I can’t help but think his cheap behavior will cost the Cowboys in the long run. I think you were right on target to note how he had shopped around. Overall, I think college football is in a very sad state of affairs. The almighty dollar seems to be driving everything, and the would-be superstars, including coaches, seem to think they are gods.”

Coaches think they’re some kind of deity much more than do would-be superstars. Not even close. You know how you’ve always heard that doctors have a god-complex? I’ve never seen it. But I see it in coaches all the time. Maybe because I’ve been pretty healthy, other than my sports habit.

Pat: “You have addressed a huge chasm in the fairness and equity that exists between college coaches and the players they recruit. I have no respect left for Mike Gundy as the result of this last display of elitism he displayed. That a coach can in clear conscience flirt with different job offers while under a lengthy contract, then to forbid players to do the same is an issue that must be addressed. The Bill Self display while at ORU was equally appalling. He chided and guilted two of his players wanting to transfer to Arkansas, to remain at ORU, because both he and the university made a commitment to them. The players only wanted playing time that might lead to improved job opportunities for them. Then, just a few months after this very public display, Mr. Self abandoned ORU for the job at TU. Hypocritical? Absolutely! Money in college athletics has run almost unchecked which allows these coaches, athletic departments and universities to take advantage of those they are supposed to be responsible for educating. On the one hand, I guess it does teach these kids that life isn’t fair and that it’s a money-driven world. The more money you have, the less rules apply to you. It’s no wonder our universities have so many ‘entitled’ student-athletes who feel the rules don’t apply. They’ve learned it by watching their coaches. Have a great day and know I’m an OSU alum and fan forever. I’m just more than a little ashamed of our football coach.”

I don’t remember much about that Bill Self case, but it’s a great point. Loyalty is a one-way street in collegiate athletics.

Sid: “Certainly appreciate your article and nerve in Gundy’s handling of his transferring QB. Reminded me of Jenny’s article when she discussed the immature QB (and his mother) a few years ago. Keep up the good work.”

Gundy generally doesn’t yell at male sportswriters. I think I’ll be OK.

Chris: “I am an OSU alum writing you from southern California. I am a huge fan of yours. A big, big fan. So out of respect, I want to send you this message: In a sense, coach Gundy is running a business. And when you look at it from a business perspective, coach Gundy’s stance makes sense to me. Plus, you don’t want to make it too easy for kids to switch schools. Part of growing up is learning to take responsibility by sticking to your commitments. However, I don’t know everything you do so please forgive me if I am way out in left field. With my limited knowledge, I just wanted to give you my 2 cents.”

You could be right. It might have been a straight business decision. But if you want to treat it as a business and the players as commodities, then no more talk about leading young men and the noble aspects of collegiate athletics. Just tell parents the truth. Your sons are here to serve our interests.

Lynn: “I was interested in your article because I thought the same thing. Gundy was looking all over for a job that would let him schedule weak, although I wonder how any place could schedule weaker than OSU or K-State. Since Tennessee is in the SEC I don’t think they would be that place. It is kind of ironic that he wouldn’t let Lunt go to Tennessee because he could have gone there (we think, but we don’t know. Maybe they wouldn’t take him and that’s why he stayed at OSU). I think that Lunt needs to look at a school that has OSU on their schedule and bite the bullet and pay his way so he could have a chance to beat Gundy. I can see him having to sit out a year when he has to transfer, but why does he have to lose a year of eligibility? I wonder why no one has sued over that?”

Maybe this is a good time for a refresher on the rule. Lunt has to sit out a season if he transfers to another Division I-A school. If he transfers to a Big 12 school, he also loses a year of eligibility; in other words, if went to Baylor, he would be eligible in 2014 and would be a junior. But otherwise, Lunt would be a third-year sophomore wherever he goes. And Lunt can go anywhere he wants. But he can’t receive a 2013 scholarship unless OSU releases him.


by Berry Tramel
Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The Oklahoman,...
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