Just watch the first minute, that’s all you’ll need to see the appalling behavior of the Tulsa World’s Dave Sittler. While talking to Oklahoma State assistant Bill Young “off the record”, he calls former OU head coach John Blake a “slapdick”. Full disclosure here, I had to google what a “slapdick” was, fwiw.
Sittler goes on to say that he only got the job because he was black, something he had learned after talking to then-OU athletic director Donnie Duncan (who past the one minute mark gets his health issues aired in public - talk about a complete under the bus convo for Duncan). Supposedly, the move was to compete with OSU, who had black coach Bob Simmons leading the team at the time. Blake struggled mightily at the helm of the Sooners, going 12-22 in three seasons, but his resume pre-head coaching was as an assistant at OU and with the Dallas Cowboys.
I live in Oklahoma City, so do not read Sittler on the regular (or really much at all, to be honest), however, some comments since this has happened indicate people are not surprised by this sentiment expressed (Deadspin, for example). But according to Sittler’s bio on his World-affiliated blog, he’s a highly decrorated and respected journalist. Hmm.
“Tulsa World sports columnist Dave Sittler was born in a small Nebraska prairie town. No, it wasn’t in a sod house. After a forgettable high-school athletic career and a junior college season playing football, Sittler transferred to the University of Nebraska. At the Daily Nebraskan, the student newspaper, his first assignment was to cover Tom Osborne’s first spring practice as head coach. He’s been named Oklahoma Sportswriter of the Year 10 times, including just recently for 2009. In 2001, he served as president of the Football Writers Association of America. He is Oklahoma’s representative on the Heisman Trophy voters committee. In 2005, Sittler was inducted into the Oklahoma Journalism Hall of Fame.
This blog won Best Web-Exclusive Content for 2007 by the Oklahoma chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists.”
I’ve heard through some of my circles that Sittler is expected to be called home from Phoenix today, where he’s in town to cover OU’s bowl game tonight and OSU’s game on Monday. The rumors are that he will then be asked to vacate his position as columnist at the World. I have no idea if this is indeed accurate, but the fact that he wrote a column today makes me think perhaps my circle is just wishfully thinking. Now I don’t have any idea what I expected the paper to do about this or how fast they would react, but it certainly wasn’t to continue to publish articles after these comments were made public.
But really, to me this goes way beyond the realm of journalism and professionalism. It strikes at the core of the human that Mr. Sittler is. If he would talk about this “off the record” to an OSU assistant, who else does he talk to and about with such a nasty world view in the course of his daily life? (The same goes for Duncan, for that matter.) People who think we live in a post-racial country of peace, love and harmony only need to have a three minute conversation with the man delivering sports news to Tulsa to know that isn’t true.