Woodling: KU grad target of tirade

Ten years ago, Jenni Carlson was among an elite group of 11 Kansas University graduates who earned a chancellor’s award.

Who knew that a decade later the same Jenni Carlson would be treated with unconscionable rudeness and brazen disrespect by the football coach of a Big 12 Conference school?

After hearing about Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy’s attack on Carlson, I went to the Web and watched his 31â2-minute tirade. It’s a jaw-dropper.

In nearly four decades of covering Big Eight and later Big 12 football, I never saw anything like it. Sure, coaches being unhappy with sports writers isn’t anything new – heck, I’ve had my ears reddened a time or two – but the scolding was always in private, never in public.

What made Gundy’s unprecedented flogging of Carlson even worse was the smattering of clapping in the background as Gundy left the room without saying a word about the Cowboys’ thrilling 49-45 victory over Texas Tech.

I’m assuming that applause came from “big cigars” who were given the privilege of attending Gundy’s postgame media session because I can’t imagine any of the writers or broadcasters joining the sycophantic chorus.

What could Carlson possibly have written that would prompt Gundy to go ballistic?

Basically, she was looking for answers. She was speculating – as columnists are supposed to do – why sophomore Zac Robinson had beaten out two-year starter Bobby Reid at quarterback. With Gundy supplying no definitive answers, Carlson was left to guess based on what she knew and what she had heard, so she wrote, in effect, that Reid lost the job because he wasn’t tough enough.

Carlson did not call Reid a “mama’s boy,” but the insinuation was there, and apparently that’s where Gundy thought the column went over the edge.

Although well within the bounds of fair comment and criticism, Carlson questioning Reid’s manhood certainly took courage and proved she has come a long way from her days at KU when, while columnizing for The University Daily Kansan, she primarily penned prose that overpraised the men’s basketball team.

In retrospect of Saturday’s mean-spirited mangling of Carlson, we are left to wonder if Gundy would have ridiculed a male writer for a similar column. Perhaps, but in bashing a woman, Gundy emerged as more cowardly than he would have if he had attacked a male scribe.

Earlier this year, we all watched KU football coach Mark Mangino on YouTube as he dropped the F-bomb eight times while chastising a KU player. Mangino later groused that the media shouldn’t have been there. Essentially, Gundy was saying the same thing, that the media should either jump on the bandwagon or lie down under its wheels.

His gaffe eventually will be listed as one of the reasons he lost his job.

At the same time, Gundy has turned Jenni Carlson into a national figure. Her fame may last only 15 minutes, but today she is the most famous female graduate of the KU School of Journalism.