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Oklahoma football coach Brent Venables praised his team for staying focused amid the resignation of longtime assistant Cale Gundy earlier this month.
Gundy resigned after he read a “racially charged word” aloud from a player’s iPad “multiple times” while trying to make an example of that player for being distracted during a film session. Venables supported Gundy’s decision to resign amid calls from alumni to keep the coach.
Venables, who replaced Lincoln Riley as head coach of the Sooners, told ESPN the players have “handled everything great.”
“All things considered, they’ve handled everything great and not allowed it to become a distraction. You gotta go through some mud sometimes. You gotta get scarred up. You gotta go through some things, and that’s how you go get better. You don’t go get better and improve through ease and comfort in anything,” he said.
Gundy announced his resignation on Aug. 7 after reading what he called a “shameful” and “hurtful” word. Gundy had been with the program since 1999. He said in his original statement he was “horrified” by what he had done. He was on the Sooners’ staff for all of their 14 conference titles and the national championship season in 2000 under Bob Stoops.
Venables said he met with members of the team’s leadership about Gundy, but said it was the former assistant coach’s decision to resign. He said he did not want the young college athletes to “bear the responsibility” of the issue at hand.
Adrian Peterson and Joe Mixon were among the alumni who expressed support for Gundy after the coach’s resignation.
“There’s a whole collection of us involved when these kinds of things happen, a whole team of us, and at the end of the day it was Cale that resigned, and that was his decision, the right decision,” Venables added. “He didn’t want to be a distraction and knew what happened wasn’t right. The timing was awful. But as a team, we addressed it the next day and moved on to business.”
Oklahoma was ranked No. 9 in the preseason AP top 25. The team starts the year off against UTEP at home on Sept. 3.