Mike Gundy’s day was probably bad enough when it was revealed his pay had been slashed by $1 million. It grew worse when it was also disclosed that the Oklahoma State coach had a year lopped off his revolving contract.
And then came the worst. He got taken to task by Aubrey Huff, one of the few figures in the sports world widely regarded as, uh, quirkier than Gundy.
Oklahoma State punishes Mike Gundy
Mike Gundy had a potential player mutiny on his hands last month after being photographed wearing an OAN shirt, perceived as an endorsement of the controversial news network that has been critical of the Black Lives Matter movement.
Gundy apologized, solving most of his problems with his players. However, the Oklahoma State administration conducted a review of the football program and determined that there were no instances of racism. However, OSU athletic director Mike Holder conducted a video conference on Friday during which he revealed that Gundy’s salary was being cut by $1 million and a year was being cut from a five-year rolling contract.
His maximum buyout was cut from $5 million to $4 million, and Gundy’s guarantee dropped from 75% to 50%. Curiously, Holder said the measures were Gundy’s idea.
“I think it really demonstrates his commitment to being a better coach,” Holder said. “He wanted to make a statement that assured all the players that this wasn’t just about talk, this is more about action, and that’s the first step.”
So why was Mike Gundy punished?
It probably doesn’t seem plausible to a casual observer that Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy would voluntarily cut his $5.25 million salary for the upcoming season by 19% following a review that uncovered to racism. On the other hand, there can be plenty of transgressions less serious than racist behavior but more problematic than unpaid parking tickets. Gundy likely got caught in that middle ground.
“This wasn’t about a T-shirt,” Holder said. “This was about a lot of things. The missing link has been a more personal relationship with their head coach. They respect him as an excellent game-day coach, but they want more coaching on a personal level. This crosses all racial lines. To a man, our players want a better connection to Mike Gundy. They view him as a difference-maker, and they want him to help them grow as leaders.”
There’s enough in that paragraph to suggest that Gundy had an uncomfortable meeting with OSU administrators. It’s conceivable they may have even suggested they were considering going in the proverbial “another direction.”
That would tend to get a coach’s attention and elicit a promise to do better.
Former MLB player Aubrey Huff piles on
As if he didn’t have enough on his mind, Mike Gundy found himself being chastised on social media by a sports-world pariah. Retired San Francisco Giants outfielder Aubrey Huff went after the Oklahoma State coach for purportedly volunteering to take a pay cut over a controversy about a T-shirt.
“I’ve never heard of a coach this soft in my life! @CoachGundy where’s your pride…your manhood? #cancelculture,” Huff wrote on Twitter.
Getting dressed down by a man who is considered persona non grata by his old team has to be an interesting feeling. The Giants told Huff over the winter that he isn’t invited to a scheduled reunion of the 2010 World Series championship team this summer.
Huff has shown support for Donald Trump and conservative causes, occasionally getting his Twitter account suspended for his commentary. It’s not as though his admonishment of Gundy went unnoticed. Huff’s Twitter following has grown from 48,000 users in mid-February to more than 162,000 now.