Longtime OU assistant Cale Gundy resigns
UPDATE (3 p.m. CT, Aug. 8, 2022): OU coach Brent Venables released a second statement about Cale Gundy.
The Oklahoma football program felt different Monday morning.
How could it not?
Cale Gundy, 50, resigned as OU’s wide receivers coach late Sunday evening, following 23 seasons as an assistant coach in Norman.
“I owe it to Sooner Nation to be transparent about what led to this decision,” Gundy explained in a letter posted to his Twitter account. “Last week, during a film session, I instructed my players to take notes. I noticed a player was distracted and picked up his iPad and read aloud the words that were written on his screen. The words displayed had nothing to do with football. One particular word that I should never — under any circumstance — have uttered was displayed on that screen. In the moment, I did not even realize what I was reading and, as soon as I did. I was horrified.
“I want to be very clear: the words I read aloud from that screen were not my words. What I said was not malicious: it wasn't even intentional. Still, I am mature enough to know that the word I said was shameful and hurtful, no matter my intentions. The unfortunate reality is that someone in my position can cause harm without ever meaning to do so. In that circumstance, a man of character accepts accountability. I take responsibility for my mistake. I apologize.”
The shocking development leaves the Sooners without their longest tenured assistant, who quarterbacked those early ‘90s OU teams and returned to Norman in ‘99 as part of Bob Stoops’ first staff.
Gundy coached OU's running backs for 15 years before moving to receivers in 2015. From those who worked closely with him, he was considered a key recruiter and consummate ambassador for the program he suited up for and guided through some of its most successful periods as a program. And when Lincoln Riley left OU for Southern Cal last fall, Gundy was an instrumental figure in stabilizing the program through a tumultuous time.
It’s easy to know what he meant to the team. Here are a few former players that shared their support for their former coach, and they are far from alone.
• Rufus Alexander, Oklahoma linebacker 2003-06: “My heart hurts for you coach!”
• Brennan Clay, Oklahoma running back 2010-13: “Bruhhh I’m shook ..wouldn’t be the man I am today without @OU_CoachGundy ..”
• Joe Mixon, Oklahoma running back 2014-16: “Coach Gundy is everything OU and any institution would want in a coach, teacher, and mentor. He is caring, thoughtful, intelligent, smart, funny, experienced, philanthropic, humble, and selfless. If not for Coach Gundy I would not have attended OU, survived at OU, stayed at OU, and succeeded in life after OU. I owe my education and professional career to him and most importantly I owe who I am as a person to him.”
• Rodney Anderson, Oklahoma running back 2015-18: “This isn't right. Coach Gundy is one of the most upstanding and loyal individuals I've ever met. He was in my corner when I chose OU, in my corner when I left for the league, and in my corner when my playing career ended. In short, HE CARES. about the players, the university, coaching staff, and the city of Norman. Truly one of the best guys I've ever met. I'm in coach Gundy's corner.”
• Dede Westbrook, Oklahoma wide receiver 2015-16: “@OU_CoachGundy you were one of my reasons for even coming to OU!!! Take a little time off and let’s go chase for 8.”
• Erick Wren, Oklahoma offensive lineman 2015-17: “Unbelievable! love you coach and praying for you. God knows your heart! You are a great leader of men. You made me a better player, coach and a better man. You are incredible. Sooner nation lost a great coach.”
So, what’s next for Oklahoma?
First-year OU coach Brent Venables has elevated 31-year-old L'Damian Washington from offensive analyst to interim receivers coach with less than a month until the team’s season opener against Texas-El Paso on Sept. 3.
Venables released the following statement: “It's with sadness that accept Coach Gundy's resignation. He's dedicated more than half of his life to Oklahoma Football and has served our program and university well. We're thankful for that commitment. We also acknowledge that in stepping aside he's placed the program and the welfare of our student-athletes first. In coaching and in life, we're all accountable for our actions and the resulting outcomes.
“The culture we're building in our program is based on mutual respect,” he continued. “Our staff is here to develop successful student-athletes, but also young men of character. As the leaders of this program, it's essential that we hold ourselves to the highest standards as we model for our players the type of men we want them to become.”
This post will be updated online as this story develops.