To be fair, Mike Gundy in his days as a quarterback played on some teams that opponents such West Virginia in the 1987 Sun Bowl and Wyoming in the 1988 Holiday Bowl probably felt a little like Mike Gundy has felt in watching the NCAA's ongoing investigation into the Ole Miss football program. With the addition of eight new allegations last week the NCAA Enforcement Division and the Committee on Infractions has documented an now accused the Rebels of some very serious recruiting and extra benefits violations by their football program. The total of those violations is now so much that Ole Miss and the head football coach Hugh Freeze and athletic director Ross Bjork are now saddled with defending themselves against the dreaded "lack of institutional control" and, for Freeze, "failure to monitor his coaching staff and promote an attitude of compliance."
Gundy spoke to Tulsa World columnist Bill Haisten and Haisten wrote a column on Sunday using some of Gundy's quotes with two comparisons on Gundy's mind and translating the keys of Haisten's computer and eventually column. The recent news on Ole Miss and the video presentation that Freeze and Bjork offered up last week on the school's athletic internet site, showing for the first time an attitude of regret and guilt and including announcement of a self-imposed penalty of no postseason for Rebels football following the 2017 football, reminded Gundy of dealing with the announcement of the Sports Illustrated series that accused Oklahoma State and Gundy of major violations. It reminded Gundy of the subsequent investigation by the NCAA and simultaneously by The Compliance Group out of Kansas City that Oklahoma State employed to investigate and see if anything Sports Illustrated reported was true.
Oklahoma State never admitted or self-imposed anything, they didn't have to. The words most often used in the findings of the 13-month thorough investigation were fundamentally unfounded. Sports Illustrated had egg on it's face and Oklahoma State had a probation with very limited penalties as the result of running their female recruiting host and support group out of football when it should have been run through the school's department of high school and college relations.
“The first thing I thought about was (OSU’s recent experience with the NCAA),” Gundy said to Haisten and was printed in the column. "The biggest pain in the butt was that we had to go through all of those discussions (with NCAA representatives)," Gundy said. “We had to go to Indianapolis and sit down with those people, and I had to address the accusations made against us. I got a little frustrated at that point, and it probably wasn’t good. They questioned me for four hours, and then they came to Stillwater and I talked with them for three or four hours at a time during (multiple sessions). If they want to talk, you have to drop everything and do it. They don’t care what your schedule is. But it all came out like we said it would."
So what was the second thing that Gundy thought of when he read about the Ole Miss investigation and response?
“And the second thing was the Sugar Bowl and my players and what they went through.”
Yes, the loss to Ole Miss in the 2016 Sugar Bowl, 48-20. Gundy is 7-4 in bowl games and that loss to Ole Miss is by far the worse of those four losses. On that team Ole Miss had already booted defensive lineman Robert Nkemdiche for a wild scene after the end of the season in an Atlanta hotel, where police believe drugs were involved. They still came to New Orleans loaded with two 1st Round NFL Draft picks in wide receiver Laquon Treadwell, who the Cowboys had also recruited aggressively, and offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil, who many felt until a video was released just before the draft showing Tunsil laughing uncontrollably while wearing and using a gas mask bong, presumably to smoke pot was going to be the first pick in the NFL Draft. Tunsil still went in the first round and two first round draft picks that combined for four touchdown receptions in the game as Tunsil caught one on a tackle eligible play are enough to change a game like that.
Sirius-XM College Sports Nation host on The First Team, former Alabama and now ESPN college football analyst Greg McElroy disagreed, and felt Gundy should keep his thoughts to himself. McElroy felt the playing field that night in that Sugar Bowl was level. I'll give him that, but the recruiting and possession of those NFL quality players leading up to it, and that night included was skewed, allegedly.
"Apparently, Gundy added in the story, “we didn’t all play by the same rules. If everybody is playing by the rules and you get your butt kicked, that’s OK. I can live with that. But when it’s an uneven playing field, that’s not fair.”“We’ll never know what we could have done in the Sugar Bowl if it was a level playing field,” Gundy said. “That is the truth. I’m not sure we would have won the Sugar Bowl, but we’ll never know.”
McElroy doesn't agree with Gundy. I do, but you can make up your own mind. We will all know a lot more when the NCAA finishes it's investigation and releases it's final findings and their punishment in the case.