Oklahoma State Cowboys head coach Mike Gundy speaks to the media during the Big 12 Media Days at Allegiant Stadium. Credit: Candice Ward-USA TODAY Sports

UPDATE: Mike Gundy took to  X on Tuesday evening to clarify his comments from earlier in the day.

“My intended point today at Big 12 media days was that we are all guilty of making bad decisions. It was not a reference to something specific,” he wrote.

ORIGINAL: Oklahoma State Cowboys football coach Mike Gundy chose not to punish star running back Ollie Gordon II after he was arrested for driving under the influence.

Gundy offered up a defense of why he decided not to levy any kind of suspension or punishment at Big 12 football media days on Tuesday, saying that when he looked into how much Gordon had to drink, he seemingly determined that he had done something similar “a thousand times” in his life.

“I looked it up on my phone- what would be the legal limit? In Oklahoma, it’s 0.08. And Ollie was 0.1. So I looked it up and it was based on body weight. Not to get into the legal side of it, but I thought, really, two or three beers, or four. I’m not justifying what Ollie did. I’m telling you what decision I made. Well, I thought, I’ve probably done that a thousand times in my life. And, you know, it was just fine. So I got lucky. People get lucky. Ollie made a decision that he wished he could have done better,” said Gundy.

“Is suspending him for one game really going to matter? I don’t think so,” he later added.

Gordon, the Big 12’s Offensive Player of the Year in 2023, was arrested Sunday morning on suspicion of driving under the influence. According to a police affidavit, his car swerved into an adjacent lane twice and he was pulled over after going 82 MPH on a road with a speed limit of 65. A state trooper detected alcohol in the vehicle and Gordon admitted that he had open bottles of vodka and tequila in the car. He initially refused a sobriety test and was arrested on a complaint of DUI, transport of an open container of alcohol, failure to maintain single-lane traffic, and speeding. Once he arrived at Cleveland County Jail, the Cowboys star registered a blood alcohol level of 0.11 and 0.10.

In the full answer, Gundy goes on to say that Gordon’s punishment was that he had to attend Big 12 media days and “face the music,” adding that “if there’s any punishment, it’s making him carry the ball 50 times in the first game.”

Understandably, a lot of people took offense at Gundy’s framing of the situation. To say that driving under the influence without incident is “getting lucky” is incredibly obtuse and underplays the devastating consequences that so many people have suffered from drunk drivers and those who choose to get behind the wheel of a vehicle while under the influence. According to the  National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), about 37 people in the United States die in drunk-driving crashes every day, which comes out to around 11,000 deaths each year.

It’s not just Gordon who “got lucky,” as Gundy put it, but all of the other drivers and pedestrians nearby as well.

Gundy’s admission that he has driven a vehicle under the influence “a thousand times in my life” also isn’t something anyone should say proudly, let alone into a microphone in front of a national audience or as a person entrusted with the well-being of young people. Surely that’s something that the coach will have to respond to in the days ahead.

The Athletic’s Stewart Mandel spoke with Gundy after the appearance and the coach noted that “he was referring to all the times people make ‘bad decision,’ not specifically drunk driving.”

Of course, the real question is, would Gundy have levied a suspension or punishment if Gordon wasn’t the team’s star player? The running back garnered 1,732 rushing yards and 21 touchdowns for Oklahoma State last season.

Gordon, who was voted Big 12 preseason offensive player of the year, apologized on Monday via social media, saying he was “deeply sorry for the actions that led to my arrest.”

[ESPN, Poke Nation, CJ Fogler]

About Sean Keeley

Along with writing for Awful Announcing and The Comeback, Sean is the Editorial Strategy Director for Comeback Media. Previously, he created the Syracuse blog Troy Nunes Is An Absolute Magician and wrote 'How To Grow An Orange: The Right Way to Brainwash Your Child Into Rooting for Syracuse.' He has also written non-Syracuse-related things for SB Nation, Curbed, and other outlets. He currently lives in Seattle where he is complaining about bagels. Send tips/comments/complaints to sean@thecomeback.com.