We haven't seen many star college football players take major stands against their head coaches. Oklahoma State star Chuba Hubbard's decision to raise issue with Mike Gundy earlier this month was about way more than an OAN shirt.
"I will not stand for this," Hubbard tweeted after the picture of Gundy wearing a shirt of the controversial network surfaced. "This is completely insensitive to everything going on in society, and it’s unacceptable. I will not be doing anything with Oklahoma State until things CHANGE."
Hubbard is one of college football's best players, and a potential Heisman candidate for Oklahoma State. Even so, few players have taken as bold a stand as he did here. According to a new report by Yahoo Sports' Pete Thamel, the issues go far beyond a bad shirt choice.
“This was about way more than a T-shirt,” an unnamed source with knowledge of the situation told Thamel. “Think about it. Chuba didn’t risk everything because of what channel Gundy watches. It was a lack of general respect for the well-being of the players.”
The OAN shirt was the last straw for Hubbard, who seemed to be echoing the thoughts of many other players. Per the report, Gundy didn't even know the names of many players that he recruited, and in one particularly troubling instance, couldn't bother to get the name of Anthony Diaz, a walk-on who nearly died when his heart stopped during a practice, correct while addressing the team.
Nothing epitomized Gundy’s lack of respect for players more than the near-death of Anthony Diaz, a walk-on whose heart stopped on the field during a November practice the week of the Oklahoma game in 2019. As Diaz was treated on the field, practice moved away from the scene and continued, even as concerned teammates worried about his fate. He eventually woke up in an ambulance.
When Gundy addressed the team in the locker room after practice, he called Diaz by the wrong name – “Nate Diaz” – and expressed jarringly little empathy.
Players have reportedly expressed that they have trouble building any sort of relationship with Gundy. He acknowledged the issue in a statement to Yahoo.
“When the players said they felt I was disconnected, it broke my heart. Hearing that led me to look at myself and acknowledge that it’s probably true. I’ve spent a lot of time listening and learning lately, and now I feel better about moving forward in developing deeper relationships with my players. That’s what they told me they wanted and that’s now a top priority for me.”
Thamel believes that Hubbard's stance might have actually saved Gundy's job in the long term. Had Hubbard and his teammates aired all possible dirty laundry, Gundy might have been let go, with too much baggage to land safely at another big-time program. Instead, Hubbard has elected to "educate" his head coach, a statement that seemed unthinkable a few weeks ago.
Now, it is on Mike Gundy to actually do the work.