AUSTIN (AP) — Testifying in a legal fight between two Big 12 rivals, Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy says his assistant Joe Wickline made a lateral move to join Texas and that his new duties with the Longhorns sound identical to his old ones.
Whether Wickline took a promotion with “play-calling duties” at Texas or just got a title with the same responsibilities he had in Stillwater is at the center of a nearly $600,000 dispute between Wickline and his former school.
Oklahoma State’s breach-of-contract lawsuit contends Texas assistant Shawn Watson is really the play-caller and is seeking damages from Wickline, who has the titles of offensive line coach and offensive coordinator. Wickline insists he and Watson share development of game plans and play-calling duties.
The legal dispute is unusual in that it has drawn Gundy and Texas coach Charlie Strong into giving lengthy sworn statements about play-calling in their programs. Oklahoma State’s lawyers have said they may also seek testimony from former Texas players and assistants. Texas has not been named as a defendant.
Although Strong has said Watson had the “final” word in calling plays during the game, his sworn testimony in March attempted to describe a complex collaborative effort between Wickline and Watson and sometimes himself.
Gundy sat for a four-hour deposition on April 22 in which he called Wickline’s move to Texas a “lateral” one. When told of a description of Wickline’s duties at Texas, Gundy said: “He did the same thing at Oklahoma State.”
Continuing Coverage: Joe Wickline Lawsuit
The Associated Press obtained a copy of Gundy’s deposition Tuesday through an open records request. An Oklahoma State official noted Gundy still has time to review the transcript and file any clarifications of his testimony.
Gundy said he hadn’t read Strong and Watson’s depositions, but had scanned parts of Wickline’s testimony before giving his own.
Gundy said he only had a brief conversation with Wickline before Wickline left for Texas in January 2014. He didn’t recall many details, but Gundy said at the time he believed Wickline was going to coach the offensive line for the Longhorns.
Gundy said he conferred with Oklahoma State athletic director Mike Holder in early 2014 and it was his opinion Wickline had triggered a clause in his contract that required him to pay damages if he left Oklahoma State for a lateral coaching move and not a promotion. Gundy said he didn’t help Holder draft a letter sent to Wickline warning him of a potential lawsuit if he didn’t pay. But Gundy said “I agree with the letter in that Joe Wickline took a lateral move.”
Gundy’s testimony also got testy during a lengthy exchange with Wickline’s attorney over who should be considered the “play-caller” at a major college program.
Gundy said the person who sends the play to the field to be signaled to the players is the play caller, regardless of who actually decides what it will be. Wickline’s attorney repeatedly pressed Gundy as to why it shouldn’t it be the person actually responsible for making the decision.
“One guy sends it down … that’s the play caller,” Gundy said.
Watson has previously testified that he’s the one who sends play to the sideline, even when he collaborates with Wickline or Strong.
Gundy also said that schools will give assistants “fabricated” titles.
“There could be multiple offensive coordinators. I guess somebody could do that. You could give five guys the same title, but there is only one guy that calls plays,” Gundy said.
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