'This isn't about the shirt anymore': Bomani Jones dives into Mike Gundy controversy

OSU vs. KS Football-11.jpg

Oklahoma State's coach Mike Gundy calls for a time out during the Oklahoma State vs. Kansas State Football game on September 28, 2019 at Boone Pickens Stadium in Stillwater, Oklahoma.

When ESPN personality Bomani Jones saw Mike Gundy wearing the “One America News” t-shirt on Twitter, he didn’t think it was a big deal — it was just Gundy expressing what he’s about.

But this is about more than just a piece of clothing.

“This isn’t about the shirt anymore,” Jones told the O'Colly. “...The players and their other problems had nothing to do with the network. It had to do with the way they were treated and the way they were spoken to and the way that they feel that their coach feels about them. And that, to me, is far more important than anything about what Mike Gundy watches on TV.”

The picture that circulated with Gundy wearing the OAN shirt on Monday had a domino effect with current players — starting with Chuba Hubbard — calling for change. 

That opened the gates for former players to tweet and share their distaste for Gundy — many insinuated the longtime OSU football coach made racist remarks, which sent the Twitterverse into a state of frenzy.

But when Jones saw the shirt, his immediate reaction was that Gundy was simply sharing his beliefs — as he did back in April.

“I was flipping through stations,” Gundy told reporters on a conference call back in April. “I found one — I don’t even know if anyone knows about this. It’s called OAN. It’s called One America News. And it was so refreshing. They just report the news. There’s no commentary, there’s no opinions on this. There’s no left, there’s no right. They just reported the news.”

This is the same network that called the Black Lives Matters movement “a farce.” And Gundy believed that was an unbiased news station.

“Which is a mind blowing conclusion to draw,” Jones said. “I’ve watched just enough of that network to know that if Mike Gundy saw that and saw facts, Mike Gundy is not very aware of the way that the world works.”

Gundy walked back his comments on Wednesday and apologized for not realizing how the network portrayed the Black Lives Matter movement.

But even with that apology, many fans and national media members continued to rip Gundy for his actions.

When asked how he thought Gundy should have handled everything once the t-shirt picture dropped, Jones said Gundy only has two choices.

“His choices were to stand firm in what he had said before about what he thinks about the world or to have some grand enlightenment where he recognized the limitations of perspective that he might have and try to relay that to his players,” Jones said. “What he’s going to need to do is not something that you can fix in 24 hours.

“If he’s calling his players ‘ghetto’ and threatening to ‘send them back to the hood’ and all this stuff and calling them ‘thugs,’ like if that’s happening, you’re not going to fix that in a day. I don’t think he can just magically wake up and become a good person.”

And that’s the point many media members are bringing to the table — a change like this doesn’t happen this fast.

Which brings up the question: is Gundy’s series of apology videos enough?

“I don’t think that’s as easy of a fix as putting out a video to the public,” Jones said. “We’re going to see how it goes, ultimately, with the players. But they’re the ones that are really going to dictate how this goes for Mike Gundy.”

As Jones said, the players will ultimately decide if it’s enough. But just taking everything as a whole body of work, another question spikes up.

From the way Gundy mishandled the coronavirus situation to his comments on OAN back in April to the t-shirt debacle, what does all this say about him?

“I don’t think Mike Gundy understands what the problem is,” Jones said. “...The way that these guys have objected to the way that they have been spoken to, does he realize that’s a problem? Because to me, that is a huge problem. If he ever thought that kind of thing was appropriate, that’s the kind of stuff that needs to be fixed.”

And so it’s a complex matter with so many people speculating so many different things. But there’s one question that keeps darting to the top of the list — is this the end of the Gundy era in Stillwater?

“I do not believe he’s done at Oklahoma State because I don’t think Oklahoma State wants to be done with him,” Jones said. “If they wanted to be done with him, then this could be enough.”