Oklahoma State was set to have some serious talent returning on their 2020 squad, pending, of course, the return of college football amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Star running back Chuba Hubbard, fresh off a 2,094 yard season on the ground, returns to Stillwater as one of the best players in the country, and linebacker Amen Ogbongbemiga was due back for a senior year fresh off a 100 tackle (15.5 for loss) season on the opposite side of the ball. Head coach Mike Gundy has found a way to push both away from the program, however, thanks to his inability to read the room and constant support of the aggressively conservative, pro-Trump (to the point of publishing questionable at best and fake at worst stories) news outlet OAN.
Gundy wore an OAN shirt while fishing over the weekend and the continued support of the outlet — which has been vehemently opposed to the Black Lives Matter movement — led to Hubbard saying he won’t participate in “anything” for OSU until something changes, which was then supported by Ogbongbemiga.
I will not stand for this.. This is completely insensitive to everything going on in society, and it’s unacceptable. I will not be doing anything with Oklahoma State until things CHANGE. https://t.co/psxPn4Khoq
— Chuba Hubbard (@Hubbard_RMN) June 15, 2020
Gundy has previously voiced his support for OAN, calling it “refreshing” a couple months back when speaking with the media.
The full quote where he shouts out OANN pic.twitter.com/mY2uZRql4N
— Dan Wolken (@DanWolken) April 8, 2020
There seems to be a movement happening within college football where star players are recognizing the power they have in these situations, most recently evidenced by Florida State players threatening not to participate in workouts after new coach Mike Norvell lied to a reporter about having individual conversations with all his players about the protests and BLM movement and Iowa players calling out their strength coach for racist comments. The results were the FSU program promising to do more in the community, particularly with the Black community in Tallahassee, and Iowa parting ways with the highest-paid strength coach in the country.
The question at Oklahoma State is what change is sufficient enough to get their star players back on board, as Gundy clearly knew what he was doing in procuring and wearing that shirt, then being photographed in it. Before anyone decides to tout Gundy’s first amendment right to wear whatever shirt he pleases, he absolutely can, but that doesn’t mean he’s shielded from any response from players who are understandably upset by his choice. One of the reasons college coaches often remain fairly quiet about their political beliefs, particularly if right-leaning, is because their job is to recruit players (many of whom are Black) and doing so would negatively impact that. Gundy has decided he’s not worried about that, and now must reap what he sowed. Oklahoma State must decide if he’s worth keeping around, despite all his success there, if players are now going to back away from the program because of his beliefs.