The abrupt resignation of longtime Oklahoma assistant coach Cale Gundy has continued to generate discussion throughout the college football world since the news was announced Sunday evening.
The ongoing attention is undoubtedly an unwelcome development for first-year Oklahoma head coach Brent Venables, who was still addressing the matter three days later as numerous well-known figures past and present associated with the program weighed in on both social media and in mainstream news outlets.
The high profile of the Sooners in the sport, as well as the racially charged circumstances of Gundy’s departure, have fueled the buzz, and as is often the case not all of the chatter in the online world has been especially productive.
For those new to the story, here’s what we know:
Who is Cale Gundy?
Gundy was one of the top-ranked prospects after a career at Midwest City (Okla.) High School. He played at Oklahoma from 1990-93 and held almost every significant passing record when he finished his eligibility, including career marks for yards (6,686) and touchdowns (40).
He was hired as an assistant at Alabama-Birmingham and served for four seasons before returning to his alma mater as a running backs coach when Bob Stoops was hired by the Sooners prior to the 1999 season. He spent the first 16 years of his tenure in Norman coaching running backs before shifting to receivers in 2015. Gundy was retained when Lincoln Riley was promoted to head coach in 2017 and also when Venables was hired last winter.
What happened in the meeting room?
According to statements issued by Gundy and Venables Sunday night, Gundy uttered an inappropriate word universally recognized as a racial slur during a position meeting. Gundy describes the incident as having read the word aloud from a screen being used by one of his players, who presumably should have been taking notes. Both Gundy and Venables acknowledged that saying the “racially charged” word under any circumstance was unacceptable, and that Gundy would be unable to continue to do his job effectively after such an indiscretion, whether intentional or not.
What has been the response at Oklahoma?
Gundy recruited and coached some of the best players in the history of the Oklahoma program. Among them are running backs Adrian Peterson, DeMarco Murry, Joe Mixon and Samaje Perine along with wide receivers Sterling Shepard, DeDe Westbrook and CeeDee Lamb.
Several of the former players have issued statements of support for Gundy. Mixon released a statement on Twitter shortly after the news of Gundy’s resignation broke Sunday detailing the positive impact his former coach had on his life. Peterson followed with a similar post on Twitter the following day.
Murray, who is currently the running backs coach at Oklahoma, called the incident “unacceptable” on Twitter while detailing positive feelings for their relationship. Westbrook and Perine also offered support.
Stoops in a radio interview said the situation “kills me” and hoped the team could move forward.
In his Wednesday press conference, his first since the incident came to light, Venables told reporters that the team met for three hours Saturday to address the situation.
“My feeling is that it was amazing,” Venables said. “Really, really, really transparent and just vulnerable. And it was terrific.
“One that sometimes through adversity causes those moments where you’ve got to take a pause and you have to have that to continue to move forward as a program. Trying to find good in a dark place and in a dark moment.”
Venables also expressed sadness about Gundy’s departure, but excitement about the elevation of L’Damian Washington into Gundy’s role.
“Nobody asked for this issue to happen, but how we respond ultimately, as we know, will determine how we are defined,” Venables said.
“This issue aside, the Oklahoma program with Cale Gundy is stronger than one without him,” he added. “But I couldn’t be more excited about L’Damian Washington and the opportunity that he has with these guys this season.”
No players have spoken to the media about the incident prior to Wednesday.