When you think of Oklahoma State football, you think of one of two things: Mike Gundy or Mike Gundy’s mullet. OK, well maybe for some the whole “I’m a man, I’m forty!” rant pops up too. But regardless, the face of the Cowboys program is none other than head coach Mike Gundy.
Sure, we remember the famous rant back in 2007, the classic mullet straight out of 1980’s or the countless times Gundy has shot straight from the hip on society or college football. That’s all fine and dandy and in fact, I am usually one of the first people to applaud that due to the fact the majority of college football coaches in 2020 wants to be as bland as possible, which by the way, isn’t as fun to cover. So, when we “the media” get a coach with the personality and charisma like Mike Gundy, he always has us on the edge of our seats just waiting to see what he has to say next.
By the way, this only works when you are winning, and to Gundy’s credit, he normally backs up the talk by walking the walk. Nobody else in Oklahoma State football history has won more games than Mike Gundy and when you have been at a school for the last 19 years, you are likely to feel as comfortable as comfortable can be. Not to mention, it’s his alma mater for crying out loud. Oh, and on top of all that, he is the highest paid state employee in Oklahoma.
So, when Mike Gundy hopped on conference call on Tuesday, he had plenty to say for someone who has been quiet over the last few weeks. Mike said that the goal was for football to resume next month saying “We have to have a plan, and the plan right now is for them to start on May 1st. It might get backed up two weeks. I don’t know, I can’t make that call, but if it does, we’ll start with the employees of this company, the ones that come in this building. Then we’ll bring the players in, and slowly but surely we’ll test them all in.”
Having a plan sounds great but when something is as unpredictable as what is going on in this world right now, how can you truly plan for anything let alone set a date about four weeks from now? Wouldn’t it be smarter to use the classic wait-and-see approach? C’mon Mike, you were a good quarterback back in your hey-day. Sometimes the unexpected happens and things don’t stay right on schedule and you must call an audible.
But Mike wasn’t done there. He had answer for any players testing positive for COVID-19 saying, “We get people that get the flu during the season. We quarantine them, we treat them, we make sure they’re healthy and we bring them back. It would be the same thing here, but at some point, we’ve got to go back to work. We’ve got to get these guys back in here.”
Oh Mikey. Last I checked we have something for the flu. It’s actually called a, yes, believe me here, flu shot. How many studies can we show you to prove this is not the flu!
And perhaps the biggest bombshell of them all was him saying, “This goes back to the NCAA, the Presidents of the universities, the conference commissioners, the athletic directors all need to be meeting right now and we need to start coming up with answers. In my opinion, if we must bring our players back, test them. They’re in good shape, they’re all 18, 19, 20, 21, 22 years old and healthy. A lot of them can fight it off with their natural body, their antibodies and build-up they have and those that are asymptomatic. If that’s true, then we sequester them. And people say that that’s crazy, no it’s not crazy, because we need to continue to budget and run money through the state of Oklahoma.”
I honestly don’t even know where to start with this abomination of a take. Especially when it comes from the head football coach of a power five conference. First off, it doesn’t matter how “healthy” or what their “age” is. Anybody can be infected by the virus and all it takes is for one person to get it and it can spread like wildfire. Not to mention, some wouldn’t even show symptoms early on and just when you think nobody has it, a few days later could be a completely different story.
With that said, Gundy’s quotes scream “I know there is a global pandemic going on but back to football.” And I am all for getting back to football as quickly as possibly but when lives are at risk, football should be something in the back of our minds behind the safety of people. Would I be pissed off if the college football season was pushed back or even dare, I say, cancelled? Hell yes I would be, but I would much rather lose out on one college football season and do my part in keeping people safe than risking it all to jeopardize the future of others and sports in general.
Everyone has a job to do to make a living and I understand Gundy wants to get back to work, but you know what? Ask the millions of people who have lost jobs how badly they would like to get back to work to make the money they need to live.
At the end of the day, these are college athletes who aren’t making a dime. So why exactly should they risk the safety of themselves or others by having a few practices or workouts in May? Personally, I don’t see the reward of that being greater than the risk of getting sick. But you know what? It doesn’t really matter whose side you are on here. When you are a head coach or “CEO” of a program as some like to call it, you should always think before you speak. You can’t take back what you say when many people are listening. Sure, speaking your mind works in most cases such as “Why did you go for it on fourth down?” or “Why did you call that play?”. But this isn’t a game of football we are dealing with here. This is a game of life and I just hope Mike Gundy understands that.