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Opinion: An open letter to Mike Gundy: How Loyal and True are you?

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The Oklahoma State football team sings the alma mater after the Oklahoma State vs. Tulsa football game on Saturday, September 14, 2019 at Skelly Field at H.A. Chapman Stadium in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Editor’s note: This opinion piece reflects the perspective of its author Jet Turner, who is a member of the Cowboy Marching Band.   

Dear Coach Gundy,

What does the phrase “Loyal and True” mean to you?

This phrase, as you know, has been ingrained in the culture at Oklahoma State University since the alma mater’s inception. All OSU students, faculty, staff and alumni (you included) know the phrase. But when the football team loses, where does the loyalty and truth go?

The way the coaching staff handles a loss does not breed a culture of being “loyal and true,” even though this is what all coaches want from OSU fans. How are we supposed to be loyal and true if the team cannot be loyal and true to the fans?

People complain about fans and students leaving during a game, but why would anyone stay for the end of a game when our coaches won’t let a team stay for the fans who came out to support them, win or lose?

The outcome of a game does not determine how loyal and true we should be.

Several fans and alumni made the trip down to Houston to watch our Cowboys play in the Texas Bowl. All of the spirit squads were there as well, and many (if not all of them) missed Christmas to be there to support the team.

After the loss, the team did not stay to sing the alma mater. Every spirit squad and a large majority of fans did.

It’s clear the players are not responsible for this. They have obviously been directed to do this. This is a cultural change that needs to happen in the coaching staff.

The coaching staff seems to treat the alma mater as a privilege only the outcome of a game determines, when it should be a privilege to play at this university, and it should be a sign of appreciation to the fans, students, alumni and spirit squads who stay until the end to sing the alma mater, win or lose. The real loyal and true.

This is the case at several football programs, but why does it matter so much at OSU?

Loyal and true.

Everyone at OSU knows the phrase. Why would you not abide by it? The culture is only ever going to be built on shaky ground as long as our coaching staff requires the team to go straight to the locker room after a loss.

Yes, losing sucks. Everyone has lost before, but you should own that loss. Don’t cower away from everyone who is there supporting you. It’s disrespectful to the people who stayed to support. It’s disrespectful to the spirit squads.

The men’s basketball team at OSU stays after every game, win or lose, to sing with the fans. I’ve never been a fan of the sport of basketball, but I have been to nearly every home basketball game this season, and what Mike Boynton is doing with the culture of that program is inspiring. There are other teams that do the same.

I think it’s time for you and the other coaches at OSU take a good look at themselves and determine how loyal and true you really are. The band wouldn’t leave after a win. The cheer team and pom squad don’t leave after a loss. The basketball team stays.

I don’t write this out of spite. I love our team, I love our coaching staff, I love being in the band and cheering for the Pokes win or lose, but not singing the alma mater at the end of every game is becoming disrespectful.

So, the question must be asked: how loyal and true are you?

Thank you for your time,

Jet Turner