Brent Venables, Sooners move on without revealing much
Brent Venables and the Sooner football program he leads is moving on.
Among the first things he said this week upon meeting media for the first time since former assistant Cale Gundy’s sudden resignation was this segue to anything other than it:
“All that needs to be said has been said.”
Perhaps that’s possible.
The incident itself — Gundy’s use of, “not once but multiple times, a racially charged word that is objectionable to everyone,” according to Venables' second released statement on the matter — may have occurred more than two weeks prior.
It’s hard to know exactly because Gundy’s “last week” reference in his last-Sunday resignation statement did not make clear if he was treating Sunday like the first day of a new week or the last day of the current week.
Maybe it doesn’t matter.
Unless there’s actually much more to be said.
On the one hand, you have to admire Venables’ full-speed-ahead management style — “And this won’t be the last time there’s a crisis and issues you’ve got to deal with it head on,” he said — and on the other, you have to wonder if it’s the best approach when dealing with the most sensitive issues, like racism, or racist words, or the departure, under duress, of the longest serving coach in the program.
Because among the things that have not been said about the incident and its aftermath are many.
Like, from where Venables stands, why was Gundy’s resignation necessary?
Because saying THAT WORD once or several times necessitates his departure or because, or also because, of the entire Pandora’s Box he opened by reading from a player’s iPad in the first place, not knowing what might be revealed, from racial language, to something scandalous or slanderous about another player or coach, to even the confession of meant-to-be-private suicidal thoughts?
In Venables’ program, is it all right to put those possibilities into play or just to never say THAT WORD?
How about the not-known player?
Any discipline for putting THAT WORD on a tablet furnished by the program, or just for the transgression Gundy wrongheadedly addressed, of paying no attention?
Any counseling for players or staff about how to approach the tumult and turnover, or even about how to speak about it, because it’s clearly very difficult, otherwise Venables’ would not have said everything’s already been said.
Sometimes the easy way out, or the most expeditious way out, really is the best way out, but that's hardly clear here.
Is Gundy now damaged goods on the recruiting trail, thereby crushing his greatest value to the program, or is the code of Venables’ famous new culture so clear that Gundy had to depart despite the value he brings, on the recruiting trail and everywhere else?
Does it not seem, now that it’s happened, been addressed by the program and moved on from by the program, that those who've lived and died with the program's fortunes over decades and generations might deserve to know a little more?
Yes, good will come of it.
L’Damian Washington, at 31 already a young football lifer after dabbling in the NFL and three other professional leagues, elevated from his offensive analyst's role to become Gundy’s full-season interim replacement, appears to be a fantastic story.
Not to mention, any move allowing the pride of Norman North, Nick Basquine, to rise in the ranks, which he’ll do as an asset to Washington, can’t be too tragic.
All that and maybe Gundy had something to do with no Oklahoma receiver catching even 40 passes the previous two seasons. I’ve long blamed Lincoln Riley, but maybe OU’s too-big receiving committee began with the guy in charge of the unit.
Yet, are any of us feeling particularly informed?
“We’re in the middle of fall camp and you have to deal with this and I think we’ve hit it head on with our guys,” Venables said. “Open, honest, transparent, connected the whole time, and I think we’re in a good place. I think we’re in a great place, all things considered.
“I wouldn’t step up here and act that way if it wasn’t that way, but you know it when you see it and know it when you don’t.”
So many words.
Still, from the outside, not a great deal of understanding.
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