Hart Lee Dykes Sees Disconnect, but Not All on Mike Gundy
STILLWATER -- After reading a story in a newspaper this morning that the disconnect between Mike Gundy extends beyond the current players and also to former players, even some of his own teammates, I dialed one up and schedule Hart Lee Dykes on my radio show. I knew Dykes was current on what was going on in the program. I witnessed the former two-time All American wide receiver and Mike Gundy spend extensive time in the stands and then outside the locker room at the final bowl practice on the University of Houston campus in December. Dykes also came by the Cowboys hotel to talk to staff members and coaches.
Now the surprise when I got Hart Lee on the radio show was he was talking from home where he was finishing up a quarantine after contracting the COVID-19. Yes, Dykes is one of the few people that I've spoken with that has had the coronavirus.
"My wife was exposed to it, brought it home, and we both have had it,: Dykes told me. We're scheduled to go out this Wednesday, the first time in 14-days, and have another test and make sure we're negative now. But we were both were positive before."
All of a sudden the topic changed. I wondered if Dykes had real problems. He is 53-years-old now and while that isn't in the high risk range, it's up there enough to be really concerned.
"For two days it was death, man, I ran a fever. I was just miserable. It is kind of, I describe it like when you have the flu, your body is aching and your throwing the fever," Dykes said getting really descriptive about his bout with the COVID-19. "From the bottom of my feet to the top of my head I was aching, but it only last for two days, and then after that the only thing that I noticed was the breathing part of it. When I would breath in real hard, I could tell my body was a little compromised. Other than that, I thank God that I'm fine. I feel pretty good."
I did ask Dykes after having the COVID-19, how did he feel about a football season? He told me he thinks they can play and he said he is hoepful.
"They better, I'm bored without sports," he said. "I really hope we have football."
As for the situation that he has had plenty of time to read about and talk to former teammates about on the phone. The happenings at Oklahoma State and with Mike Gundy. The quarterback that threw him the majority of his 224 receptions for 3,510-yards and 31 touchdowns is now the head coach, was under fire, and it hasn't stopped.
"The first thing that I'll answer with that question is I know what is driving this, is Mike (Gundy) a racist? My wife has met Mike on numerous occasions but she doesn't know Mike with the depth that I know him. So she asked me the other day, because we've been at home quarantined, she said, 'Is Mike, is he a racist?' My exact words to her was no!"
Dykes has seen the demands from the current players, who also must not think Gundy is racist. Whey would they want more of him if he was. That is what they want, across the board, black players and white players, more connection to the head coach. So, when I asked Hart Lee, who admits he can get Gundy when he wants to talk to him, sometimes by calling Gundy's wife, Kristen.
"The problem is, and I'll share this with your Robert, I have nothing to hide, transparency," Dykes said leading up to his opinion. "I've talked to Mike and there is a huge disconnect between former players and Mike.
Dykes went deeper. He also said that if any former player might have an ax to grind it would be him. Dykes, who was the face of the NCAA probation Oklahoma State went on in 1989 that suffocated the program, is rarely recognized for his contributions on the field. He was not alone as there were other players that were cited in that NCAA investigation. Dykes would love to be in the Oklahoma State Athletics Hall of Fame. He has not let that tarnish his feeling about OSU and the football program. He doesn't put all the blame on the former players issue on Gundy.
"The main problem, Robert, is the disconnect with former players and the way it is presented to you when you return to Stillwater," Dykes explained noting that the O-Club is non existent. "And the way I've heard it presented by former players is you sweated your blood, tears; you bleed orange from afar, even today, they lose, I lose."
Dykes said he hears players complain that there is no outlet for former players to arrange tickets and lodging like there is at other schools. Football has created the Legend's Weekend in the spring, but during the fall there is nothing other than trying to contact coaches or support staff and asking them to help.
I checked with the athletic department and was told that the O-Club does not have a person currently overseeing it. It is lumped in with the Oklahoma State Posse. One person close to the situation suggested that Gundy could kind of clean up the problem by starting a former football players association and bringing that in under football. It seems like the "hits just keep on coming."
Dykes finished up with a pretty solid conclusion.
"I hate it surrounding these circumstances," Dykes finished. "I think Oklahoma State is a great place, and this is negative publicity that we don't need, but it is something that can be fixed. I don't think it is unrepairable. Mike has done a great job there and I commend him. Like I say, Go Pokes!"