Doug Bond played at Oklahoma State from 2002 into the spring of 2005. He was also among the key sources in Sports Illustrated’s first two articles. Wednesday, Bond talked with the Daily O’Collegian via telephone in attempt to share his side of the story. What follows is the complete transcript of the interview.
Bond: (Thayer Evans) wanted to know why top athletes were going to up-and-coming schools and then not making it. He wanted to know what our story was, not necessarily if we had been done wrong, but just whatever backgrounds we were coming from- why we weren’t making it.
He was basically trying to get a story from us.
Telling our story, not necessarily blaming us, but just explaining what happened with us, our thought process the whole time; how we viewed ourselves and things like that.
When he asked us a question, everything was from a general standpoint on Division-I athletes, and that’s how I was answering those questions.
Everything was from how athletes like myself who were in the doghouse or had that attitude, how we thought, why we thought the things we thought, and why that led us to being dismissed or whatever, you know?
He took those words, and he paraphrased a lot of those statements that I made to make it seem negative- the first article more than the second. The first article was almost like a sucker punch. He just threw my name in there, paraphrased a sentence where he has asked me about cheating.
I told him I had never seen, never heard of, or never taken anything. I made that extremely clear. I said that probably nine or 10 times during the conversation, as well. I said during the conversation nine or 10 times that I wasn’t blaming anybody for my dismissal. My thing was, I owned my mistakes and I’ve always owned up to that.
But for example, the sentence that he said, one of the quotes that was in there was, ‘They take care of their cats.’ (referring to OSU boosters paying players).
The whole sentence in that deal was I was saying that if there are schools that do that around the country, I’m sure they take care of their cats. I’ve never seen that (at OSU). That was my statement. My statement was paraphrased and used in a way to make it seem like I knew that was going on. And I’ve never seen any of that. Are you kidding me?
That’s really it. I’ve spoken to a couple of (other players interviewed), and they’ve all given me the same story.
Who have you spoken to?
I’ve spoken with Jonathan Cruz and Brad Girtman, and you know, Cruz was quoted in the article today, and he was extremely upset. We still consider ourselves Pokes.
It’s hard to explain. Even though we were dismissed, and we didn’t get to finish our career there, that’s where we started to become men.
Our experience with it was leaving there or staying and graduating there, it was pretty much a defining moment in all three of our lives.
When there are games on TV, when Gundy’s speaking, we always listen. You know, just with a happy heart because we consider ourselves Pokes even though we left there. And we would never, ever, say anything bad about the university or the football program, because nothing ever happened – not like how they’re claiming.
Nothing ever happened. We never saw any of that. From my own experiences- from the horse’s mouth- I never saw anything. I made that explicitly clear to Mr. Evans, and he used my words to enforce some kind of personal cut he had against the university. The words I was using were completely taken out of representation of what our conversation was and what I thought the article was going to be about.
What can you tell me about your interview with Thayer Evans? When was it? Where was it? Did he make it clear it was recorded?
I spoke with him sometime during last November. He called me over the phone. I don’t know how he found me, because he found my sister’s number and he called her. I’m not exactly sure how he found her number, but he was able to go through whatever means and found my number through my sister. My sister called me, and said, ‘Some guy wants to talk to you from Sports Illustrated.’
I gave him a call just to see what’s going on, because I’m not exactly sure why he would be contacting me, so we spoke over the phone, and that was it. We spoke over the phone, and he told me what he was writing about.
I have a passion for that topic just because I’d like to be a coach. I’m working to be a coach right now, as a matter of a fact. I want to go affect the guys who are like I was back in the day. Does that make sense? I’d like to help those guys, and I know how to do it. I’ve got a master’s degree in counseling and human development, so I could learn any type of hurdle, whether it be cultural or coming from their background, you know, I’d have some type of insight to who this guy is and why he may see reality in a certain way.
When I talked to (Evans), I was extremely passionate about what I was saying. I didn’t meet him anywhere, I talked to him on the phone. If he told me it was recorded, I don’t remember him saying it was recorded, but I can’t say for sure that he did or didn’t say that. I knew he was writing things down, but I told him over and over and over again that first, it wasn’t Gundy.
It wasn’t Gundy, I said.
I felt like the black cloud lifted up off the team, off the program, once Gundy got in office. That was the best thing that ever happened to Oklahoma State. I told him, ‘I’m trusting you with my story. I do not want you to print anything or release anything until I see it.’
I said I also don’t want my name in there. I’m not doing this to get any recognition. What I’m doing is putting my story out there in case there’s any other athletes out there going through what I was going through, and maybe they’ll read this and it’ll help him.
I specifically told him that.
He broke everything he said he wouldn’t do.
You mentioned Gundy. What was the biggest difference between the Gundy era and the Les Miles era?
I don’t want to get into anything.
Not necessarily comparing the two coaches and making it sound like I’m downing one and lifting the other. You have to understand my experience was from a 19- or 20-year-old child. There were certain things I didn’t understand that were happening to me that happened, and the reason certain things were happening was because it was the best thing for the program.
I have to say it’s just coaching styles. That’s pretty much all that it really was. But I’ve already got some quotes out there that got me a little bit down, so I’d like to be careful if you don’t mind.
Just so we’re clear, you said Gundy lifted a “black cloud.” What did you mean by “black cloud?”
I guess I’m more or less talking from my standpoint; I’ll put it like that. I was a guy, like I said, who was immature. I came in physically ready to play. I could have played as a true freshman. I just mentally wasn’t ready to be a student-athlete at a Division-I program.
I had bad grades the whole time I was there. I was barely passing. I just felt bummed.
Being excused was the best thing that ever happened in my life. When I said, “lifted the black cloud,” I felt like I had a new beginning, because I knew what Gundy stood for. I knew he was about football. Playing the best football, and I had a sense that Gundy really cared about the person behind the pads, you know?
It just felt like I had a new beginning. I really did, I just messed an opportunity up. I got on board too late. But like I said, that moment (when I was dismissed from Oklahoma State) really forced me to become a man. And I finished out and graduated from Northeastern State, went and got my master’s at Hardin-Simmons, and you know, it really forced me to step up to the plate. I’ve always maintained that if I would have been Gundy and he would have been me, I would have excused me from the team as well.
My mindset was so negative, just from letting myself get that way and not having the insight or the maturity level to be able to receive coaching or whatever. That’s just what I did to myself, but it was a learning experience that I needed, and I wouldn’t be in the position I’m in if I didn’t have it.
Just so I have the facts straight, why exactly were you excused from the team?
Grades. My grades were bad. I had been on academic probation so many times, you know. When you come in as a new coach and you’ve got some guys who didn’t make it or are frustrated with the program or aren’t buying in or what not, you give them a certain amount of time, you know?
When you give them a certain amount of time, you say, ‘this is what I’m doing.’ (Gundy) gave us a whole spring. I was with him through spring of ’05, I believe that’s correct. Anybody who was dismissed after that, we just couldn’t quite get on board. For me, I was almost there, I really was.
But being dismissed was the best thing for me. It brought reality, you know? I’ve been successful ever since that.
Your overall opinion of these articles so far—are they completely false? Is there any basis? What’s your take?
Like I said, I have never, ever seen – I’ll put it to you this way – the reason I came to Oklahoma State was because I felt like it was a big family atmosphere.
I felt like all the players truly enjoy each other. They were a true team. I wanted to be a part of that because my of high school atmosphere. I was used to that. I knew how to operate in that atmosphere. And when I got here it was no different; it was even better than I had thought.
I’m telling you this, when we all hung out, it was basically the team hanging out together. I never, ever saw — when you start talking about Tatum Bell and all these guys (Sports Illustrated is) saying got all this money and new cars and whatever — never saw it.
Ever. Never, ever.
Didn’t even hear a rumor about it. When we were there, it was all football. I never even heard a rumor about anything like that.
These other guys quoted so far — do you think they’re all being misquoted, or maybe a couple of them have beef with the program, or what’s the deal?
The thing about it, I can only speak for me. I know a lot of people were just frustrated from their experience as a player, but they love Oklahoma State. The guys that I keep in contact with, we all hold the exact same things, that we are completely responsible for whatever we did to be dismissed or not finish our career there: every last one of us.
We all recognize we were young and had negative attitudes at the time, and we probably missed a prime opportunity to do something in that game.
But that regret, that experience has been the fuel to our fire since then. Just speaking for myself, truly, there’s such crazy claims. Are you kidding me? $25,000 a year they were making? No way.
I remember the time we were getting our scholarship checks and they were like $70. You can tell when somebody’s struggling. Everybody’s going through the exact same thing. Going to the Dollar Tree and getting tuna and spam and things like that, you know.
I’ve never seen it. Whether it happened, maybe I was too naïve to see it, but I never saw it. Never heard about it. And somebody was going to talk. You’re talking about kids in college, they’re not actually grown men yet. Somebody would say something, they bought something.
What about the academic part of it and the other allegations set to come out with drugs and sex?
Let me start. Mr. Evans, when I was talking with him, I said Marilyn (Middlebrook) and Terry (Henley) and the whole staff over there was one of the best academic staffs in the entire country. Because they truly cared about you.
They didn’t just want you to get a good grade. They cared about how you were doing. They are so against anything like cheating. If that had been the case — let me tell you something — as a true freshman, I was starting- I had a starting position. I believe one of the offensive linemen was out with bad grades or injury or something. I earned a starting position. I was set to start against Louisiana Tech, but they took me out because the guy either became healthy or eligible again.
And if that would have been the case, grades were being slanted, I would never had a problem at Oklahoma State. They are so against cheating or doing anything like that. They care enough to where they’ll come knock on your dorm room if they know that you missed tutoring. That’s how much they cared.
They’ll come find you in the morning before meetings and be upset with you not just because they have to tell a coach that you didn’t come, but they were upset just because they care about your wellbeing.
If anything like was going on, papers getting written for anyone or whatever, it was behind closed doors. So I can’t say somebody was aware of it. They wouldn’t have stood for it.
One other part of the accusations against Joe Deforest is he had a (bonus) program , had players work at his house illegally. I would assume you’re going to refute that too or had no idea of it?
Yeah. I don’t know anything about it to be honest with you. Coach DeForest, I really didn’t deal with him too much because I was on offense. Coach (Mollard) was the guy I was closer to. I was just an average screw-up.
I wasn’t out partying — well, I wasn’t out getting in trouble while I was partying. I wasn’t getting into bar fights or showing up to practice drunk, I was just stupid: young and dumb.
But I never saw Coach DeForest or anyone giving money.
Let me tell you something — this drug section is coming up. Also, too the sex, Orange Pride girls and what not. When I was there, I was going through a pretty good depression.
At that point in time, just to handle it, I went out and smoked some weed. I failed a couple of drugs tests. And I was handled the right way. I was sent to the counselor. After speaking to a couple of guys, you know, I’m pretty sure that (Sports Illustrated) is going to come out and say something about how so many guys were told it was OK to do whatever. And that never, ever happened.
When you failed the drug test, what exactly happened when you met with coaches and/or counselors?
I can’t remember so far as the exact steps, but I know the steps were followed that were laid out in the program guidelines. I met with coach, he told me what was going on.
Who exactly did you meet with?
Coach Miles. And the head athletic trainer. I met with him and said they were going to send me to a drug counselor, and her name was Peggy. Peggy and I talked. By then, when I was getting over that – I don’t want to give you my story because I don’t want this to be about me – I want this to be about the fact that I loved the university and what was said wasn’t right.
At the time I was going through that depression — it was probably almost a year, between 2003 and 2004, that was one of the lowest times of my life. But after I got over that, just a young kid trying to find himself, you know.
I’m very disappointed in what was said. We were all trying to give our stories, because if it starts to get recognized more in coaches’ minds and in players’ minds about where players are coming from and their maturity level — there are a lot of guys who would make it. A lot of guys for whom that light bulb would click on, and they would start to understand. A lot of guys miss out on that because wherever they came from and how they did things really collides with how the real world really is. That’s what we thought we were giving, and it didn’t turn out like that at all.