Columnist Says Oklahoma State Coach Attacked Her Credibility

Tuesday, September 25th 2007, 2:26 pm
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ A columnist for the largest newspaper in Oklahoma wrote Tuesday that Oklahoma State football coach Mike Gundy ``attacked my credibility'' during a post-game tirade three days earlier.

Jenni Carlson, in a column that appeared on the front page of The Oklahoman, maintained the accuracy of an earlier column critical of the Cowboys' former starting quarterback.

Watch the video Impassioned Head Coach Defends Player

Meanwhile, Oklahoma State officials seemed hopeful the controversy _ fueled by tens of thousands of views of Gundy's rant on Internet sites such as YouTube _ soon would dissipate.

Oklahoma State athletic department spokesman Kevin Klintworth said Gundy did not intend to comment any more about the matter. Another university spokesman, Gary Shutt, said ``we're looking to move past this and looking at Saturday's football game'' against Sam Houston State.

Whether or not the public would allow that to happen remains to be seen, as the story continued to lead newscasts in the football-crazed state and remained the focus of sports-talk radio shows _ including one hosted by Carlson, who has worked as a columnist at The Oklahoman for eight years.

Following Oklahoma State's 49-45 win over Texas Tech on Saturday, Gundy used his postgame news conference to berate Carlson for 3 1/2 minutes and left the room without taking questions. In an interview with ABC's Good Morning America that aired Tuesday, Carlson described what she thought as Gundy screamed at her.

``It was unbelievable that this was happening,'' she said. ``I just was really not expecting that there was going to be this sort of outrage.''

Carlson's column on Saturday suggested quarterback Bobby Reid's demotion was a result of his attitude more than his ineffective play. Carlson wrote that Reid, who lost his starting job two games ago, had not always handled his nerves well and his slow starts put the Cowboys in some early holes, including some they dug out of with Reid ``wielding the biggest shovel.''

It also called Reid the ``most talented quarterback'' on the team and indicated Reid was ``nicked in some games and sat it out instead of gutting it out.''

Carlson began the column by relating a story about Reid's mother feeding him chicken as players waited for a team bus following a road game. Later, she questioned why a 21-year-old would allow his mother to feed him in public. ``Most college kids, much less college football players, would just as soon be seen running naked across campus,'' she wrote.

On Saturday, Gundy called three-fourths of the column ``fiction'' and said he doesn't read the newspaper ``because it's garbage.'' During Gundy's news conference Monday, Carlson asked the coach to point out what he thought were factual errors.

``I don't have to,'' Gundy said.

Carlson asked again, and Gundy said, ``I don't have to. I'd rather just let it go.''

Carlson said in her Tuesday column that she would like to do the same, had Gundy not questioned her credibility.

``I feel as adamant about the facts in that column as Gundy did in his belief that his player shouldn't have been so scrutinized,'' she said.

``I will not stand on the sidelines and allow someone to attack my credibility.''

Gundy also said in his news conference that ``I don't dislike Jenni. Jenni and I have had a good relationship, and her and I joke about things. Obviously I didn't feel real comfortable with that article. I'm not mad at her, I don't dislike her and I don't think she's a bad person _ not that I'm somebody to judge.''

The Oklahoma City newspaper has stood behind Carlson and the content of the piece.

Bob Stoops, the coach of No. 3 Oklahoma, defended Gundy's right to confront Carlson, but declined to delve too far into the debate.

``Everybody has a remark on everything we do, and that's OK,'' Stoops told reporters Tuesday. ``As soon as a coach has an opinion on what any of you do, then you can't do that. I don't know why that would be. We're entitled to our opinions as well. So that's it. I've got nothing else to say about it.''

A clause in Gundy's contract notes that the coach ``shall conduct himself with due regard to public convention and morals, shall not do any act that will tend to degrade him in society or bring him into public hatred, contempt, scorn or ridicule, or that will tend to shock, or insult the community or offend public morals or decency.''

Asked about that clause, Shutt said ``the administration supports coach Gundy and the job he's doing.'' He said the university's interim president, Marlene Strathe, is not planning to comment on the incident.

Big 12 Conference spokesman Bob Burda said the league ``does not have jurisdiction when it comes to matters of treatment of media members by coaches, student-athletes or administrators'' because ``our membership has not empowered us with jurisdiction in that matter.''

Media groups, including the Football Writers Association of America and the Association for Women in Sports Media, have issued statements critical of Gundy.

Related Stories:

9/24/2007 Gundy Speaks Monday About Postgame Outburst

9/24/2007 "The Oklahoman" Article That Sparked Coach's Tirade

9/24/2007 WATCH THE VIDEO: Impassioned Head Coach Defends Player