Operator: "Your next question is from Trey Anastasio, Stillwater Tribune."
Trey Anastasio (aka the guitarist and lead vocalist for Phish) to Oklahoma State head coach Mike Gundy: "Hey Mike, good morning to you man. I know it's been kind of a frustrating seven days or so, which I don't really think is right because y'all played a heck of a game on Saturday. Seems like a lot of these reporters don't have respect for your unwarranted petulance, and I for one can't believe they'd have the nerve to do their jobs and not kowtow to your empty threats. I guess what I'm really saying, it's 2018, do we really even need freedom of press anymore.
Mike Gundy: "I'm not sure what you're asking. I'm not sure what you're asking."
That was one of three bizarre exchanges on Mike Gundy's portion of Monday's Big 12 coaches' teleconference. You can listen to all three exchanges here. The Big 12 — and everyone else — initially believed the call was hacked and Gundy was trolled by fans. However, on Wednesday, Joni Lehmann, the conference's director of media services, released this statement:
"In regards to the issues with Monday’s teleconference, we originally thought our media number had been leaked to the public. After researching the fake callers, we learned it was actual media members using fake names and affiliations. Therefore, we will keep the media number we have been using, barring any additional issues."
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When contacted by HERO Sports for further comment, Ms. Lehmann said, "Our teleconference company has a record of all those who call into the teleconference and of the numbers from which questions are submitted."
She did not identify the individuals who made the calls, though she did say, "We will not be taking any future questions from them on teleconferences." And as of Wednesday morning, it remains unclear which media members used fake names and affiliations. But what appears to be a coordinated effort by three or more individuals, is likely a response to Mike Gundy's threat to media members last week if they asked players about the transfer of receiver Jalen McCleskey.
"An OSU SID, on behalf of coach Mike Gundy, threatened the press corps with the loss of player availability for the rest of the season if any one of them asked players Tuesday about a player's departure this week," Joey Senat, an Oklahoma State professor, tweeted last Wednesday.
There's a lot to unpack here.
First, Gundy's initial threat remains pathetic. Sure, he wants to protect student-athletes. We can all respect that. Student-athletes shouldn't be peppered with questions about a teammate's transfer, the specifics of which most players probably don't know. However, instead of a threat, you can act like an adult and treat the media like adults by kindly asking if they would refrain from asking about McCleskey. If the media does not do so, then you can have a separate discussion…like adults.
Second, Gundy deserved criticism for his threat, but the response of disgruntled media members should no response. Criticize Gundy but continue doing your jobs to the best of your ability. Trolling Gundy with fake names and questions is childish.
Third, in addition to banning these members from all future calls, they should be banned from all future Big 12 events.
Bizarre. This is very, very bizarre.