News broke on Wednesday that Mike Gundy had ordered, through Oklahoma State SID Gavin Lang, that media members not ask players about the pending transfer of wide receiver Jalen McCleskey.
Per the OSU student newspaper, The O’Colly, Lang delivered the news to the media members who played by the rules, writing, “Gavin Lang, Gundy’s media relations coordinator, gathered the group of reporters and said Gundy threatened that if any reporter asks a player a question about McCleskey, then players would no longer be available to any media for the rest of the season.”
But it gets even better. Not only could media members not ask about McClesky, they could not even cite the fact of why they were not able to ask about McCleskey.
The O’Colly added, “The original decision that we all came to agreement on was that we would put a disclaimer in our story explaining the threat and why we didn’t ask players about McCleskey’s transfer.
Then we were notified there could be repercussions for reporting on Gundy’s threat.
We then contacted Lang, who urged media members to leave the threat out of the story to avoid possible consequences. However, if anyone asked why we didn’t ask players about McCleskey, we could choose to cite Gundy’s threat as our reasoning.”
So how did this leak? An Oklahoma State professor got a hold of the story and pushed it out on Twitter. Don’t you love media in 2018? Pre-internet/social media, there would be no way to get this out there. If any of the media outlets reported it in their papers, they’d obviously give away themselves as the leaker and source. But now, someone can tip off a professor, he can go to Twitter, and as long as he protects his source, everyone is safe.
An OSU SID, on behalf of coach Mike Gundy, threatened the press corps with the loss of player availability for the rest of the season if any one of them asked players Tuesday about a player’s departure this week. @spj_tweets @APSE_sportmedia @rcfp @collegemedia @1stAmendmentCtr
— Joey Senat (@Joey_Senat) September 26, 2018
This is small, college market BS at its absolute worst. Guys like Gavin Lang have a semblance of power over folks and use it to their advantage to feed their ego and protect their King, in this case, Mike Gundy. (Editor’s note: I guess this means I won’t get that press pass from OSU I’ve been requested on rare occasion since we started this site, because Oklahoma State “doesn’t accept websites”. Side note: basically every newspaper in America in 2018 is essentially now just a website.)
As for Mike Gundy, the idea that he can put on a comedy show after wins, and then make ludicrous demands of the media in an off-putting manner after a loss is what we see far too often from college town coaches.
As the O’Colly goes on to correctly point out, this was entirely avoidable by Mike Gundy simply telling his players to respond, “no comment”, when asked about McCleskey. It’s not hard and a good learning experience for the young men when facing the media, of which this was not all that big of a group.
That being said, I don’t put much blame on the folks at the Tulsa World, The Oklahoman, and others for not putting their careers at risk, even though they know this is ridiculous. Full-time, quality jobs in the media landscape aren’t growing on trees and in the end all these people need to protect themselves and their families. As someone who works in “traditional media” by day, I understand that angle. The guys at Pistols Firing do incredible work and they aren’t going to risk their access.
But this kind of nonsense happens in college towns. The coach runs the show and calls the shots. Often times, it’s just as chance for the coach to pump his chest out a bit and remind the media folks who is really in charge. It’s a mafia-like mentality in many ways.
Thankfully, with today’s social media landscape as it is, at least the shenanigans are less likely to be protected. And as far as I’m concerned, that’s a good thing.
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