Reports began trickling out over the weekend — pretty quietly, actually, given the magnitude of the drops — that Sports Illustrated would be publishing a report exposing a Tornado Alley-sized amount of corruption in the Oklahoma State football program, apparently committed between 2001 and 2007.
Among the misconducts are allegations of coaches and boosters paying athletes for performance, officials changing grades for athletes and members of a student group called Orange Pride providing sex to football recruits.
One more time: Providing. Sex. To. Football. Recruits.
Talk about an athletic department dedicated to winning. Those are coaches and administrators that would do anything for those kids. Anything!
Those are the football teams that win — the teams with selfless, dedicated men who’d do anything for the greater good. The teams that are one single, big heartbeat huddle. People committed to the cause. True Cowboys.
How does one prove himself as a true Cowboy? Do anything. Anything!
Even if those things are a string of incredibly illegal and unethical infractions that the questionable men knew would unquestionably never stay buried because nothing about the big NCAA schools ever stays buried, even if they were some of the stupidest things a university could ever do.
Of course, these were football recruits. These were the most important prospective members of the Cowboy family.
And of course, competition in the Big 12 is stiff. Stiiiiiiifffffffffffffffff. There are a lot of great teams across the heartland. Missouri students know; it’s not an easy conference. Oklahoma, Texas, and back in those days, Texas A&M and Nebraska. Legacy schools. “Real man football.” What recruit was going to chose OSU over those schools? Or ours?
Look, it’s not like Oklahoma State was giving crazy benefits to students. It’s not like the admissions office was offering money or sex (or both!) to Oklahoma’s crop of high school valedictorians, in hopes of bumping up the school’s status as an academic institution. That would have been preposterous. There’s no money in A’s and B’s. There is no prestige, and definitely no ESPN contracts.
What happens to the valedictorians who do choose Oklahoma State? They get homework. The other 23,000-plus students enrolled? Homework, too. Serves them right. They’re just students, after all. They’re not special. Nobody drops everything to see them on Saturday.
This isn’t an accident. Most of those kids can’t jump, run, throw, scream, growl or chest-bump anywhere as well as the football players can. And they actually have to go to class. Lame. Come to think of it, admissions doesn’t even need Benjamins or sex favors to lure those thousands of those kids every year. They just have nowhere else to go.
Every school needs dorks and every school needs cool kids, and the fact of the matter is that, before all this, Oklahoma State just wasn’t getting enough cool kids playing by the rules. And who could blame the coolest ones for passing them up? When Les Miles took over in 2001, the Cowboys had recorded just one winning record in the last 12 years, including the lasso-between-the-legs type embarrassment that was the 0-10-1 1991 season. The six bowl wins in the ‘80s were nothing but one big, dust-collecting memory. And that’s saying something, even in a place named for water that stands still.
A return to glory wasn’t just necessary. It was vital. Cowboys fans were dying of thirst. That school needed someone who would do anything.
And apparently, it got one. Miles came in, and so did the recruits. After a less than spectacular 2001, the Cowboys rattled off three straight bowl appearances. 2005 was tough again, but then — seven more in a row! Boone Pickens Stadium has been filled to capacity for years, so much so that they keep expanding it. Ticket sales. Merchandise. And oh, those bowls.
It’s a foolproof system — at least it would have been, had it not been for the whistleblowers. To be fair, they should be punished. They came in, faked their way for years as true Cowboys, and then go running to the powers that be? Those are not people you want on a football team. I don’t care how well they jump, throw, run, scream and growl. Don’t expect them to show their faces in Stillwater again. Miles still has contacts there, and look for the same ones who paid the Orange Pride to fund a shotgun society to Shoot Out Orange Shame, or something of the sort to silence those cool kids turned two-faced adults. That’s what they deserve now.
Leaks in the foundation always sink the ship. But man, that thing in Stillwater sailed for a while. Doormat programs far and wide, take note: This is how you turn things around.
Take Kansas, for example. They’ve been that conference’s resident cellar-dweller for a while. Now, this may be sacrilege, this may be blasphemy, especially coming from me, but listen up. It’s not really coming from me, it’s coming from the example set at Oklahoma State.
Want to get back to your winning ways? Get the people who will do anything for your program.