OU’s Ford stokes Bedlam with Gundy comments

  • Dave Wilson, ESPN Staff WriterNov 2, 2023, 12:53 PM ET


      Dave Wilson is an editor for ESPN.com since 2010. He previously worked at The Dallas Morning News, San Diego Union-Tribune and Las Vegas Sun.

The final edition of the Bedlam rivalry game between Oklahoma and Oklahoma State didn’t need any extra heat.

But Oklahoma defensive lineman Trace Ford, who transferred to the Sooners from Oklahoma State after appearing in 32 games in four seasons for the Cowboys, added a little extra fuel to the fire anyway.

In an interview Thursday morning on WWLS radio, known as the “Sports Animal” in Oklahoma City, Ford was asked if had spoken to Cowboys coach Mike Gundy since he left.

“Not once, and he doesn’t care that I left,” Ford said. “He didn’t care that I was leaving when I was about to leave. I tried to inform them, he didn’t care.

“I don’t think me and the staff have the best relationship. Some of the coaches still text me to this day, but not all of them. … When I was informing the coaching staff of thinking about leaving, they’re like, ‘OK, get on out of here.’ They’re pretty much like we don’t want to talk to you. So that’s just the life we live. It is what it is.”

On Monday, Gundy was asked about Ford.

“I’ve watched a lot of tape and honestly have not paid attention or noticed,” Gundy said. “I look at concepts, schemes, numbers. … What to attack, what I want to stay away from, things like that more so necessarily than who it would be, so I don’t really notice things like that.”

The radio station later played those comments for Ford, who replied, “He is really smart with the media. He knows exactly what to say. He’s a little celebrity when it comes to that stuff. He loves being petty, and I can’t wait to play him. I can’t wait to see his face. If he hasn’t seen me on film yet, I hope he does this weekend.”

This is a continuation of a conversation that began this past summer, when Gundy was asked about Ford’s transfer.

“Nothing surprises me anymore in college football. Hopefully he’s healthy and can finish his career strong,” the coach said.

Ford twice suffered ACL tears in Stillwater — he tore his right ACL at the end of the 2020 season, then he tore this left ACL in 2021 spring practice, missing all of that season. Last year, he fractured a patella and missed the last four games of the season. In the 2019 and 2020 seasons, he was an honorable mention All-Big 12 selection by the league’s coaches. He had 59 tackles, 8.5 sacks and 11.5 tackles for loss in his Oklahoma State career.

Ford said this spring the injuries were one of the reasons he wanted to leave, saying he just needed a change of scenery and was reminded of his injuries every time he walked into Boone Pickens Stadium. An Oklahoma native, he stayed in-state and made what he called a “bold choice” to transfer to OSU’s biggest rival, which obviously earned him a great deal of scorn from Cowboys fans.

“It was tough,” he said in February, according to the Tulsa World. “I know what’s best for my career, and I met the people here and my mindset changed about Oklahoma and how I felt about them. At the end of the day, it was business for me and I’m happy I’m here.”

This season, Ford, working his way back from the injury and rotating with the Sooners’ defensive linemen, has 10 tackles, 2 tackles for loss, an interception and 3 quarterback hurries.

Bedlam, which has been played 117 times, dating back to 1904, is coming to an end because of Oklahoma’s departure for the SEC. That has seen ticket prices soar in Stillwater, with prices ranging between $350 on the low end up to $5,000 on all the major resale markets.

Oklahoma is 91-19-7 all time in Bedlam, but the Cowboys beat the Sooners 37-33 in the Sooners’ last trip to Stillwater, before then-Sooners coach Lincoln Riley abruptly departed for USC the next day. The Sooners won 28-13 in Brent Venables’ first season last year.