We’ve seen plenty of college football coaches get asked about their thoughts on the coronavirus shutdown and what it means for the 2020 season. Today was Oklahoma State head coach Mike Gundy’s turn to weigh in.
In a lengthy teleconference today, Gundy said he currently is still planning on returning to the football building on May 1. He is hoping that testing will be available by then to clear players or football employees, and potentially “quarantine” those who test positive. Gundy admitted that the plan isn’t “100 percent”, because he doesn’t know if he’ll be allowed back in the facility by then.
However, it was a series of other comments, documented by SI’s Oklahoma State site, that truly raised eyebrows. In those, Gundy stressed the need for administrators to have a plan for getting back to work and eventually proceeding with the 2020 season.
“In my opinion, we need to bring our players back,” Gundy said. “They are 18, 19, 20, 21, and 22-years old and they are healthy and they have the ability to fight this virus off. If that is true, then we sequester them, and continue because we need to run money through the state of Oklahoma.”
Gundy isn’t wrong about the economic impact football has on the state of Oklahoma–and America in general–but not surprisingly, he’s getting criticized for the flippant nature of the remarks when it comes to his players.
Here is Mike Gundy, who made $5.1 mil last year, saying his players need to be brought back to campus because they're healthy enough to fight COVID-19, in order to "to run money through the state of Oklahoma" https://t.co/1UecDV6cRL
— Alex Kirshner (@alex_kirshner) April 7, 2020
Mike Gundy would absolutley be OK with your kids dying if it meant generating revenue. https://t.co/y8TgZ65Mpp
— Hemal Jhaveri (@hemjhaveri) April 7, 2020
ME: so, Mike, you're saying that the players are essential employees?
MIKE GUNDY: y-
PAT FITZGERALD: [diving in front of Mike's answer like a Secret Service agent trying to stop a bullet] https://t.co/b7Br4ETofz
— actioncookbook (@actioncookbook) April 7, 2020
Not sure people realize the totality of what Mike Gundy said and how poorly his statements come off. To the point that Oklahoma State should probably take a much closer look.
— Adam Silverstein (@SilversteinAdam) April 7, 2020
congrats to anyone that had mike gundy +250 as the first college football coach to say college kids should be fine and could shake off the virus so let's play footbaw. muschamp +150 ticket holders are despondent
— Robby Kalland (@RKalland) April 7, 2020
Mike Gundy wants to run herd immunity on unpaid labor so Oklahoma State can make money 🤨 https://t.co/Xh9eCusoCG
— Andrew Joseph (@AndyJ0seph) April 7, 2020
"We need to run money through the state of Oklahoma" (but not through the players)
— Bud Elliott (@BudElliott3) April 7, 2020
Here is some more audio of Gundy’s media session, courtesy of KJRH2’s Jacob Tobey.
— Jacob Tobey (@JacobRTobey) April 7, 2020
Again, college football has a massive financial impact on the schools that play it and the states that host it. We’re not denying that.
However, it is just too early for Gundy or anyone to be so gung-ho about playing the season as scheduled or discussing what “needs” to be done. Patience is still required as the coronavirus pandemic continues.
More importantly, you can’t just guarantee that a player who gets sick can fight the virus off. What if they have an underlying condition? Also, fighting coronavirus off could still mean a person gets incredibly ill.
Gundy probably should have thought these comments out a bit more.