The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

November 6, 2013

Power-tripping Gundy wrong to silence Chelf

By Dave Ruthenberg, Sports Editor
Enid News and Eagle

— It’s been a fairly eventful three weeks for Oklahoma State quarterback Clint Chelf. It would be nice if he could speak about it.

The Enid High School product led the Cowboys to a 24-10 win over TCU in relief of J.W. Walsh on Oct. 19 and then started the next two games, a 58-27 win over Iowa State on Oct. 26 and a 52-34 win over Texas Tech last week. For his efforts against the Red Raiders, which included 211 yards and two touchdowns passing and two rushing touchdowns, most notably a 67-yard score on a draw play, Chelf earned Big 12 Offensive Player of the Week honors.

It’s a safe bet Chelf, a fifth-year senior, had to feel pretty good about his recent performances, and being named player of the week. Of course, we never will actually know, as OSU head coach Mike Gundy inexplicably continues to place a gag order on his quarterbacks, who aren’t even allowed to appear at postgame press conferences.

The situation in Stillwater has gone from the sublime to the ridiculous to the utterly ludicrous as power-tripping Gundy made clear during Sunday’s media teleconference previewing No. 14 OSU’s game against Kansas Saturday, announcing that the highest profile position player on the team will not be available at all until after the season. The Great and Powerful Gundy has spoken, which is more than can be said for his quarterbacks.

Addressing the matter Sunday, Gundy said: “Ever since we have started the year, there has been nothing but media opinion on who should play quarterback. And there is not really anything they can say about themselves or each other that is productive for the overall chemistry of the team ... So it’s better off just to let them go until the season is over and then let them have the opportunity to communicate with everybody.”

The situation though is one Gundy himself has created and has only made worse by digging in his heels, which would be fine if he were digging into some solid turf, but the foundation in this case has the consistency of manure. In other words, it stinks.

Gundy’s own vacillation between who would start has been at the forefront of the OSU season from Day One when he named Chelf the starter, then pulled him after two drives in the season-opening win over Mississippi State, and the QB situation has careened downhill ever since.

It’s not a media creation. It’s a Gundy creation.

The media is only doing its job, trying to report and decipher the myriad mixed messages emanating from Gundy.

The matter has to be growing a bit weary too for the players as they are now constantly asked questions about Chelf’s performance, or how they like playing with Chelf, etc ... all because the media can’t go directly to the quarterback.

This is fairly unprecedented. Brandon Weeden was available to the press at OSU and he handled it quite well. Over in Norman, Sooners QB Blake Bell has been made available to the media and has handled himself fine.

What is Gundy afraid of? Chelf, from all indications, is a bright guy. He’s a fifth-year senior and should be able to comport himself just fine in a press conference. The questions Gundy seems to be afraid to have Chelf address — namely who should be starting — are pretty much moot anyway at this juncture of the season as Gundy appears to have actually settled on a starter.

At this point, most, if not all, of the questions directed to Chelf would be game-related. Fans want to know what the QB was thinking during a play or other simple, game-related matters, or his thoughts on upcoming opponents. The only one keeping that other issue alive is Gundy himself by continually drawing attention to it by refusing to let his quarterback speak.

As it is, players such as Cashion’s Jeremy Seaton spend time explaining what a great guy Chelf is instead of being able to focus on their own accomplishments.

This is the same road the Enid News & Eagle had to travel down in the preseason when Chelf was requested for an interview at OSU media day for a hometown boy-made-good story for our college football preview. Instead, upon arrival, we were told Chelf would not be available. Our resourceful reporter, Ryan Costello, had to get others at media day to talk about Chelf, namely Tracy Moore and Jeremy Smith.

We also can assume Chelf isn’t going to say anything embarrassing about OSU. After all, his dad played football at OSU, his older brother Colton (tweets notwithstanding) played wide receiver for the Cowboys and his younger sister, Courtney, now is on the Cowgirls hoops team. This family bleeds orange.

Frankly, it has to be getting to Chelf as well, as the impression builds Gundy doesn’t trust him around the media.

The bottom line appears to be Gundy’s desire to maintain a choke-hold grip on the flow of information out of OSU, even to the detriment of the program. It’s all about power and shaping the message he wants reported.

We have seen him rant at members of the press in the past and vent his rage against unsuspecting contractors wearing the wrong attire. He can be a bully. And he can be wrong.

In this case, he simply is out of line with his QB gag order. Maybe Gundy will relent before the season is up, but considering his track record, don’t count on it, which is too bad, because he continues to make himself the story in Stillwater, when the story should be what is taking place on the field.



Ruthenberg is sports editor at the News & Eagle. Contact him at daver@enidnews.com.