Stand up for your players. Isn't that what any mother would ask the coach of her son to do? That is exactly what Oklahoma State head football coach Mike Gundy was doing. And he is now being lambasted by journalists across the nation because he called out one of their own for criticizing one of his players, former starting quarterback Bobby Reid. Journalists are like a fraternity. When you insult one of them, all of them get upset. But you have to look at why the journalists are upset. They aren't mad because Gundy went on a tirade in his postgame conference. They aren't mad that he didn't have any comments about the game. They are upset because he called out one of the journalists. His verbal attack on Jenni Carlson caught the journalists off guard, and their response has been rash. On sportsline.com, the sports website created by CBS, columnist Dennis Dodd claims that Gundy should "be reprimanded, definitely suspended, probably fined and maybe fired." Dodd questions Gundy's credibility, calling him a hypocrite because he criticizes Carlson for not being aware of the situation while Gundy refuses to concede to Oklahoma and their success. Gundy's ignorance of Oklahoma's success is a strategy to keep his players from being overwhelmed by OU. But it has nothing to do with Carlson's column. That is just Dodd painting a negative image of Gundy to make him seem like a horrible man. It is an immature tactic that is a desperation move by a professional. Dodd simply refuses to admit his colleague's error. Later in his column, he writes how Carlson's article was "fair and balanced."
If criticizing a STUDENT-athlete for exiting a collegiate game when injured, saying he showed "bad form" in laughing with a staff member on the sideline near the end of a loss, and bringing up RUMORS of how he considered transferring because of competition at quarterback is all fair and balanced, please correct me. And yet those are some of the things Carlson said in her column. Worst of all, she mentioned how Reid allowing his mother to feed him in public "said so much about Reid." What, that he isn't embarrased to let his mother care for him. He had just gone through a rough week, and his mom was there for him when he needed her. And yet Carlson turns this into an example of why Reid's attitude is the reason for his demotion. By bringing up rumors, not facts mind you, but rumors, Carlson lowered herself to the level of a tabloid writer. But then by bringing his mother's care for her son into the discussion, Carlson stepped into personal territory she never should have touched. It's one thing to criticize a player's play on the field. It's another to attack who he is off the field. These student-athletes are exactly that, students. They're still kids. Not professionals. And to challenge the character of one of these kids was not the right path for Carlson to go.
I'd imagine one of the major challenges of recruiting is winning over the player's mother. For years, the mother was there to protect her child. But upon high school graduation, the mother will no longer be able to provide that protection. That is where the coach steps in. The coach becomes that source of protection. I can see many a coach promising his recruit's mother that he will protect and watch over them. And that is what Gundy was doing. He was protecting his player, probably to the delight of Reid's mother. Gundy stood up for Reid as if he were is own child. He even asked Carlson if she had any kids of her own. Upon hearing she had none, he wished on her that when she does have children they be ridiculed as Reid has, just so she will know how badly she erred.
Of course that was it for the journalists. The president of the Football Writers Association of America, Mike Griffith, called Gundy's actions "completely inappropriate." Griffith claims it "could have been handled in a more private and appropriate matter." But what Gundy did was level the playing field. Writers always have their platform that they can speak their mind from. They can almost always come away unscathed from incidents such as this because it is their job. But Gundy used the platform he had to address what he deemed as unfair criticism on the character of a kid, one of his kids. I know winning football games is ultimately a college coach's job, but isn't also to protect their players. Because if that is the case, then Gundy was just doing his job.