LET­TERS

The Oklahoman - - SPORTS -

dium at 2:30 p.m. Satur­day when OSU hosts the Wild­cats.

Sny­der’s let­ter-writ­ing to play­ers, coaches and peo­ple of all walks of life has be­come leg­endary.

“If a young man gets hurt, I want to let him know I’m think­ing of him,” Sny­der once told ESPN. “If some­body does some­thing that maybe oth­ers see as a rea­son they lost a ball­game, I’ll re­spond to that, be­cause no one loses a game. If some­body has a good per­for­mance, you cer­tainly want to let them know you thought they did well.”

Count­less let­ters to count­less in­di­vid­u­als. A small ges­ture that car­ries a hefty mean­ing.

It was a sit­u­a­tion like Sny­der de­scribed that gen­er­ated his let­ter to Gundy.

Back in 1989, in the first year of Sny­der’s ten­ure, Gundy en­tered a game in the sec­ond half with a torn

knee lig­a­ment. He hadn’t played the first half but came in with the Cow­boys trail­ing in the third quar­ter.

Late in the game, with his knee heav­ily braced, Gundy threw a touch­down pass that gave the Cow­boys a 17-13 win.

“The next week I got a nice, long, hand­writ­ten note from guess who? Coach Sny­der,” Gundy said. “To me, that was a big deal.

“And at that time, he was just an of­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor from Iowa that peo­ple thought had com­pletely lost his mind to take the Kansas State job. As his­tory tells you, that’s a pretty cool deal.”

Gundy fig­ures the let­ter is in a box at his mom’s house, where she’s stashed a lot of mem­o­ries from his play­ing ca­reer.

While the mo­ment had a big im­pact on Gundy, it was his coach at the time, Pat Jones, who in­flu­enced him to write let­ters of his own.

“Pat Jones taught me in my first year of coach­ing that there’s noth­ing like a hand­writ­ten let­ter,” Gundy said. “He taught me in 1990 that you need to learn to write hand­writ­ten notes to peo­ple. Peo­ple en­joy those and they feel more per­sonal.”

Most of Gundy’s let­ters have gone to coaches and other in­di­vid­u­als. Lan­ning was the first player he had writ­ten to.

“I was al­ways he­si­tant about that, be­cause they’re not my play­ers,” Gundy said. “I prob­a­bly should’ve done more of that. But in the end, peo­ple take it for what it’s worth.”

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