32 years, 27 college football seasons, 353 games, and several top recruits made up the Cale Gundy era at Oklahoma.
One of the most celebrated homegrown recruits in Sooners history, Gundy, was where it all started.
When he signed with the Sooners in 1990 out of Midwest City High School, Gundy was the most sought-after high school player in the state of Oklahoma and a top-five quarterback recruit nationally. His sudden resignation as the OU receivers coach came as a result of an alleged racial incident that occurred during a team meeting last week.
Gundy, a two-sport star for the Sooners who also played baseball, had a big coming-out celebration in Norman halfway through his real freshman year.
Gundy may have followed his older brother Mike to Oklahoma State, but Barry Switzer’s dismissal following the 1988 season left the team reeling from NCAA suspension.
However, Mike had previously (and seriously) contemplated enrolling at Oklahoma State. As a Cowboy, he broke multiple Big Eight Conference records. When Gary Gibbs offered him a scholarship, Cale joyfully wore the Crimson and Cream after a short drive down Sooner Road.
When his career began, the 6-foot-1, 193-pound Gundy wasn’t quite ready for college football, but it didn’t take him long.
Gundy sat on the sidelines against Kansas, the only game in his career in which he was healthy and didn’t play, after backing up sophomore Steve Collins in simple non-conference victories over UCLA, Pitt, and Tulsa (he completed 7-of-18 passes for 66 yards with no touchdowns and two interceptions and had two interceptions).
The legend of Cale Gundy began the following week while big brother Mike watched from the sidelines as an OSU coach.
As halftime drew near, the Cowboys held a 14-7 advantage, so Gundy was called off the bench to direct the Sooners’ two-minute offensive.
Gundy launched a bomb to tight end Adrian Cooper on fourth-and-6, and as time ran down, Cooper made a leaping catch and crossed the goal line.
Quicker Magic? Just the Cale Mary, though.
In what turned out to be a 31-17 Bedlam rout, Gundy went 6-of-10 for 119 yards and scored his first career touchdown.
The next week against Texas, Gundy again provided Collins with support. But Gundy never gave up the position after coming off the bench in the second quarter against the Longhorns.
Gundy managed a 51-yard drive in the final two minutes that led to a game-winning field goal attempt, finishing the Red River Rivalry with just 3-of-6 completions for 51 yards. Texas managed to hold on to a 14-13 victory despite R.D. Lashars’ 46-yard field goal going wide left.
In the Sooners’ subsequent game against Iowa State, Gundy received his first career start, but once again he was unlucky.
Gundy completed 10-of-13 passes for 119 yards, but the Sooners fell 33-31 in an odd upset at Norman, handing the Cyclones their first loss since 1960.
When Gundy departed the game due to injury, Colorado, the eventual national champion from 1990, had a 14-12 lead. Gundy completed 8 of 14 passes for 169 yards and one touchdown on the ground. 32–23 was the final score for the Buffs.
The Sooners won their previous three games (55-10 against Missouri, 34-7 at Kansas State, and 45-10 in a historic upset over Nebraska) with Gundy back in the lineup, and he played well: 20-of-42, 387 yards, two TDs, and no total INTs.
Despite having poor total stats in 1990 (54-of-109, 904 yards, four touchdowns, and three interceptions), Gundy was the quarterback in charge of eventually transitioning OU from the wishbone era to a more contemporary style.
The offensive two-deep of Gibbs was primarily designed for running the option, thus the rebuild was difficult since NCAA probation robbed the squad of crucial depth. OU finished 7-4 the year before Gundy took over, then 8-3, 9-3, 5-4-2, and 9-3 over the course of his four seasons.
Gundy led the team in passing in single-game, single-season, and career statistics, and his record as the starting quarterback was 24-12-2. Gundy helped Josh Heupel break all of his previous records when he took over as Bob Stoops’ running backs coach in 1999. Heupel concluded his career with 6,142 throwing yards, which remained unchallenged at the top of the OU record books.
Gundy had the three most productive passing seasons in OU history when he left the program. Now, Sam Bradford, Landry Jones, Baker Mayfield, Kyler Murray, Jalen Hurts, Jason White, Spencer Rattler, Paul Thompson, Nate Hybl, and, of course, Heupel outperform him with stats from his sophomore, junior, and senior years, which place 20th, 22nd, and 26th in school history, respectively.
But Gundy will always be the first, no of how many quarterbacks for the Sooners redecorate the record books while passing.