Mike Gundy would like to apologize.
No, not for what the Oklahoma State head coach said, just to those who took offense to what he said. That distinction is key to note when reading what was sent to the media on Saturday — four days after he made several controversial comments regarding the COVID-19 pandemic on a teleconference with beat reporters.
“I have been made aware that comments from my press conference have offended some,” Gundy said in a statement released by the school. “It was never my intention to offend anyone and I apologize. My first priority is and will always be the student-athletes and doing what is best for the program and the university.”
OSU was quick to come out and distance themselves from Gundy’s comments that same day. Their head coach however, seems to be sticking by what he said until he otherwise gets his head out of the sand.
Whether you are a die-hard in orange and black or just a regular college football fan, that aspect might be what is so disturbing about this entire episode.
What Gundy didn’t say in his “apology” is far more notable than the fact that he issued a statement at all. He didn’t say he was sorry for suggesting football players could fight the virus off and be fine, as we saw with Florida State OL Anthony Boselli and Boise State assistant Zac Alley. He didn’t say he was being irresponsible in putting business interests ahead of unpaid players’ health and safety. He didn’t say that using COVID-19 tests on hundreds of football players just to get back by May 1st instead of testing those in Oklahoma that desperately need them is a bad idea. He didn’t say he was wrong in putting cold hard cash ahead of lives.
Oh and he didn’t say that doing what is best for the Cowboys football program is not mutually exclusive right now for what is best for those student-athletes he is supposed to be responsible.
Just about everybody with any interest in college football is hoping for a return to the gridiron this fall. Everybody wants something normal to happen right now in an era of social distancing and staying at home. But the fact of the matter is, Gundy using questionable news sources to support an even more questionable point of view that is not in line with health experts (nor his own school administration’s stance) is simply reckless for somebody of his stature.
Instead of making PSA’s to help like Ed Orgeron and Nick Saban are doing, OSU’s coach is doing a disservice to the very same cause he wants to champion: getting back to football this fall. Others far more important than Gundy have noted that there could be no fall sports — including football — at all in 2020. That happens if people do not take the coronavirus seriously or want to advance advice contrary to what authorities are saying can reduce the spread of it.
Football cannot return until the country gets to a state where it is allowed to. Until then, we will all have to do our part to get there as quickly as possible.
Mike Gundy isn’t doing his and such hallow statements are just about the worst kind of leadership anybody involved in college football can display in these trying times.