Summer Series Installment #5: Oklahoma State


Someone help me here. Is the real face of the University in gameday attire, on his way from his tailgate to the stadium, or is it pheasant season in Oklahoma?


2010-11: 11-2, (6-2) South Division Co-Champions, Alamo Bowl Champions Biletnikoff winner Justin Blackmon

Four of the first six games for the pokes looked easy, while two looked tough. One of those two made sense while the other didn’t. Troy and Texas A&M. Even though it made sense that they Von Millers would give OSU fits, it didn’t diminish the epic performance that was decided on a final second 40-yd field goal in front of a home crowd and a national audience in Thursday primetime.

The 2010 squad would essentially be the launching pad for future WVU head coach Dana Holgerson. Despite that firepower, the 6-0 start would be stymied by slack jawed Bo in week 7. The 51-41 win by the Cornhuskers wouldn’t come easy as they caught a few breaks like an impromptu fake punt inside their own 20. Still with a chance to run the table against the South Oklahoma State focused on the task at hand and ran the table to set up a regular season finale for all the glory in the Bedlam game. This go around luck would be on the Cowboys' side, but yet not defense would be in tact to stop the Marooner Sooners from walking away with a Victory. I myself was trying to not find the OU AM feed as I drove back north on I-35 from an embarrassing KSU over North Texas victory. But I was unable to tune the Cowboys dial under the twilight. 10-2 earned the Pokes an Alamo berth which was a precursory future non-conference match-up with the Arizona Wildcats. Coach Gundy, Holgy, Weeden, Hunter and Blackmon were able to bring home the hardware from San Antonio to set up 2011-12 as a season to remember.

2011-12: 12-1, (8-1) Conference Champions, Fiesta Bowl Champions #3 in the nation finish; (2x) Biletnikoff winner Justin Blackmon

After making sure Troy wouldn’t be a non-conference nuisance, the Pokes did just that, including beating Arizona for the second time in just over 8 months. But it was once again the match-up with Texas A&M that provided last-second heroics. Well actually Justin Blackmon handed the Aggies 2pts as he ran 39 yds in the opposite direction as time expired to seal the 30-29 victory for the Cowboys. It was the victory that taught the world how to Gundy.

From there the pokes would provide many a more entertaining ball games despite losing offensive coordinator and current WVU head Coach Dana Holgerson and RB Kendal Hunter, relying still on Brandon and Blackmon with the Wichita native Joseph Randle now the feature back. In fact opposite of the game snooze-fest of the century was one of the most entertaining games in Big 12 history, as Gundy & Co. outlasted the Snyder-Cats 52-45 with a "time is on their side" ending capped by an Oklahoma earthquake. Certainly, after getting through that it almost seemed certain for destiny to shine upon the construction zone orange clad warriors as the road to a match-up with LSU appeared to only have one road-block: Bedlam. Unfortunately Rhoad construction started pre-mature in Ames Iowa, as a frustrated Brandon Weeden, never seemed to get into rhythm with his receivers in front of some 56,000 crazed Iowans and the Knott-Klein defense following a rare FG miss at the end of regulation. Even with the maimed resume, some thought, if the Pokes could dismantle Oklahoma in front of a national audience, there could still be a chance. In my personal opinion, I think another two touchdowns may have done the trick, but that’s unfair to say as we’ll honestly never know. But Gundy for the most part did keep the foot on the accelerator, as the regular season cap ended up in a 44-10 onslaught over in-state rivals Oklahoma. Although it probably didn’t heal the Cyclone wound, I’m sure it went a long way. Regardless of the future, the Pokes did claim the outright conference title and were assured a BCS bowl berth. And that it did, matching up and beating Stanford 41-38 in another thrilling performance out in Glendale Arizona.

Needless to say, it’s easy as K-state fans to parallel these two seasons to 1997 and 1998 (albeit bowl appearances were flip-flopped). Akin to K-state in 1999, it will be tough to continue the bell curve Northward. One has to wonder if this was the peak to Oklahoma State football. Of course only time will tell, but truth be told the rumors of starting a true-freshman qb likely presents inherent issues with a second year offensive coordinator who doesn’t have the luxury of more than a few holdovers from the Holgerson era. Face it, Weeden and the guys taught the coordinator the offense, not the other way around. So moving forward I think we’ll flush out what real influence Todd Monken really has. I personally would expect Joseph Randle to get more carries, as the Offensive line in Red dirt country shows no sign of struggles to get quality players. I would find it hard to believe this program can sustain the 23-3 (88% winning percentage) moving forward in 2012-13. That’s not to say they’re short on talent to pull out a 9 win regular season, or that after a year off they can’t be back to this level. But I don’t see them chasing another conference title in 2012-13.

Men's Basketball:

2010-11: 20-14, (6-10) NIT Second Round.

Since his arrival in the 2008-09 season, Coach Travis Ford first missed the NCAA tournament in the 2010-11 season. Despite the likes of Marshall Moses, and "don't judge a book by its cover" Keaton Page, the Pokes were unable to surface to the top in the conference season. In fact their crowning moment likely came at the front end of the Conference schedule knocking off the most-hyped up K-state basketball team in ages on the Wildcats' home court right out of the gates of conference. Some suggest that win came at a discount rate from Dillards.

2011-12: 15-18, (7-11) No post-season

Hoping to bounce back from the struggles in 10-11, Travis Ford brought in top shelf recruit Le'Bryan Nash to help the cause. Turns out the recipe Ford brewed up wasn't sufficient to feed the hunger of the Oklahoma State fanbase. Nash ended up being a shade on the inconsistent side all season long, but when you saw they good games you understood why he was highly recruited. Suffice it to say, 2011-12 was so bad that the season highlight might have been a technical and a player ejection.

After 4 seasons, and a quantifiable regression since year one each and every year, one has to think Travis Ford's folding chair on the sideline is relatively hot. If this coaching staff cannot get back to post-season play behind a sophomore Le'Bryan Nash, and the addition of 5-star Marcus Smart let's hope T.Boone offers $1B salary to Coach Self. Ok sure it's a pipe dream, but point is, there's not a whole lot of reason to bet the House on Travis Ford returning in 2013-14 short of at least a second round appearance in the Big dance. Look for Oklahoma State to claw its way to at least 20 regular season wins. I would expect Ford to put the administration in an awkward "should he stay or should he go" scenario.

Women's Basketball:

2010-11 17-15 (4-12)

The Cowgirls started off conference play with 3 game losing streak, won a game, then a 4 game losing streak, won a game, and then a 5 game losing streak. Despite such struggles, still a WNIT invite.

2011-12 22-12, (8-10) – WNIT Champions, Plane Crash

If you’ve made it this far in the write up, I ask you to take a second and remember the four lives lost in a plane crash associated with the Women’s basketball program on 11.17.11. Of them were head coach and native Kansan Kurt Budke, assistant coach Miranda Serna and boosters Olin and Paula Branstetter. There’s no way around the tragedy that surrounded the 2011-12 season. And for an institution that had previously dealt with such a familiar situation, the wrenching of hearts was certainly familiar. But moreso, please remember the families of those involved.

Despite such adversity, the women’s basketball team was forced to move on, as I would expect Coach Budke would have liked them to. As the season would play out freshman Liz Donohoe helped the Cowgirls far exceed performance levels set in the season before with her All-American campaign. While a 4 game losing streak still found its way through the conference gauntlet, this year’s team was able to sandwich in much more than single victories between losses. After the early bounce in the Conference tournament to Mizzou, the Cowgirls whipped up 6 wins thereafter to take home the WNIT championship.

The team left off on quite a building block for 2012-13, but I would assume there's some momentum to at least get them to a similar spot record wise in the conference. I would expect this team to at the worst, end up in a similar spot overall record wise as they were in 2011-12.


I personally won't re-cap 2011 and 2012 season for The Cowboys as moving into 2013 they will be under new leadership. I am by no means well equipped to know what the hire of Josh Holiday and Rob Walton means, but I think it's safe to say the Cowboy fans are excited. Will it be enough to compete with the Baylors, UTs, TCUs and OUs of the world? I don't know, but this conference is shaping up to be quite salty if this OSU club elevates themselves. The jury will be out on the squad, as new coaching staffs always make matters unpredictable. I would suspect year three to be when the consensus knows what these hires equate to. Also who knows if both will be around in three years. You might think one would get sick of the other and pursue a career elsewhere. There's one thing for sure in coaching, egos struggle to co-exist.

Volleyball: see also Women's Soccer

Oklahoma State does not have a volleyball team, so the Poke faithful asked me to validate their fajillion national titles between Men's Golf (10) and Wrestling (34).

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