Mike Gundy’s ‘I’m a man! I’m 40!’ rant was our first clue that he’s a fascinating coach

If you’re an average college football fan, you probably know four things about Mike Gundy.

  • His Oklahoma State teams are always pretty good.
  • He’s been at OSU forever, back to being Barry Sanders’ QB there.
  • He’s recently showed off some personality, including a mullet and a love of snake hunting.
  • He used to be a man who was 40.

After the Cowboys’ 48-45 win over Texas Tech in 2007, Gundy wasn’t happy with a column from The Oklahoman about one of his quarterbacks, Bobby Reid, who was benched for sophomore Zac Robinson before the game.

"If you wanna go after an athlete, one of my athletes, you go after one that doesn’t do the right things," he steamed after holding up the newspaper, with pages falling out. "You don’t downgrade him because he does everything right, and may not play as well on Saturdays. You let us make that decision.

"That’s why I don’t read the newspaper — because it’s garbage! And the editor that let it come out is garbage! Attackin’ an amateur athlete for doing everything right.

"Where are we at in society today? Come after me! I’m a man! I’m 40! I’m not a kid! Write something about me or our coaches. Don’t write about a kid that does everything right, that’s hard-spoken. And then say that the coaches said he was scared — that ain’t true!"

He ended the presser by saying, "That’s all I got to say. Makes me want to puke," as somebody applauded.

Gundy’s rant wasn’t anywhere near the Big 12’s wildest storyline.

Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images

You could forgive Mizzou fans if they weren't feeling assured as Kansas quarterback Todd Reesing took to the Arrowhead Stadium field one final time. Missouri had watched a 28-7 lead waft to 34-28, and with 11 seconds left in the biggest game in the history of the rivalry, KU got one final chance from its 11-yard line.

The odds of a KU miracle were minuscule. But this was 2007. Anything was possible in 2007.

Neither program fielded memorable teams frequently. In the 1960s, Missouri had four top-10 finishes, and the rivals won three total Big Eight titles. But neither had won a title since. They had combined for eight ranked finishes since the beginning of the 1970s. On the rare occasion one was good, the other was bad.

In 2007, however, each fielded its best team in nearly four decades. Kansas began 11-0, while Missouri was 10-1 with only a loss at Oklahoma. The winner at Arrowhead would magically be No. 1 in the BCS, heading into the Big 12 title game.

"To know how big the game was going to be was exciting," Reesing tells SB Nation’s Bill Connelly 10 years later. "But at the same time, in the back of your head, it’s like, ‘The one year we put this great team together, another team in our own division is doing the same thing? And we could go 11-1 and not even make our conference championship?’”

Here’s the complete story of one of the most improbable headliner games ever.

What was he so mad about?

From Jenni Carlson’s column that’d been written the day before the game:

There's something to be said for not being a malcontent, but you can almost see Reid shrugging his shoulders as he says those words. Does he have the fire in his belly?

Or does he want to be coddled, babied, perhaps even fed chicken?

That scene in the parking lot last week had no bearing on the Cowboys changing quarterbacks, and yet, it said so much about Reid. A 21-year-old letting his mother feed him in public? Most college kids, much less college football players, would just as soon be seen running naked across campus.

And what of the scene television cameras captured earlier that evening of Reid on the sidelines laughing with assistant strength coach Trumain Carroll? The same cameras showed him throwing his cap in disgust after a missed play earlier, but to be laughing in the final minutes of an embarrassing loss is bad form.

Looking back, it’s funny how upset the national media was by what Gundy said.

CBS Sports’ Dennis Dodd suggested he should be "reprimanded, definitely suspended, probably fined and maybe fired." Mike Griffith of the Football Writer’s Association of American called it "completely inappropriate."

Years later, Gundy talked about the video and the effect it had.

"It’s really helped our team," Gundy said to Fox Sports’ Bruce Feldman, as transcribed by CoachingSearch.com. "It’s funny. In recruiting, it’s faded out over the last three or four years. Two, three, four years afterward, I would go into homes to recruit — I remember being on the East Coast, and one of the players’ grandmothers came in and brought that up and talked about it for a couple minutes, then got up and left. She just wanted to talk about our willingness to support our players.

"I don’t hear about it much anymore," Gundy said. "Sometimes, I get it from my kids. I’ve got a 13-year-old that can mimic it right to the tee. He could probably go on Saturday Night Live and do it. It was a very unique time in my career, but I certainly think it helped our football team."

Reid ended up transferring to Texas Southern after the 2008 season for his final year of eligibility, and he threw for 1,791 yards and 12 touchdowns there. Reid said Gundy’s tirade negatively impacted him.

That rant turned out to be a look inside the thoughts of a coach who had more personality than he usually let on.

About a decade after the rant, he decided to just express himself all the time.

His mullet is popular on its own, he’s revealed he started growing it just to teach one of his sons a lesson, and he’s accented it by sporting wrestling singlets and putting pissed-off rattlesnakes around his neck.

His players dress up as him for fun:

He’s also tempered his blunt streak. He’s put up with public jabs from his boss while making millions of dollars a year, even though he almost went to Tennessee after Derek Dooley was fired.

And throughout, OSU’s kept winning. At the time of the rant, he was 13-15 as his alma mater’s head coach. He’s now 104-50.

This 2007 tirade was the start of him showing us that there’s more to him than just a football coach. And thank you, Gundy, for giving us one of the greatest sports rants of all time.