I was sitting in my living room watching the final seconds of the OU-OSU game run off the clock when it happened. Orange-clad Oklahoma State students collectively hung with one leg over the wall, ready to storm the field. They knew what was about to happen. The first win against OU in the facebook age was in sight. First football conference championship in school history was moments away. And maybe, if tomorrow’s voting swings in their favor, OSU would get a chance to play for the national championship too.
This weird feeling came across my mind as I watched the orange mob spill onto the field. As ugly as the game was, and as disappointing as the entire season has been for the Sooners, there’s a part of me (a small part) that might have actually been happy for the Cowboy faithful. Naturally, I hate it for the OU players, who I know wanted so badly to do something special this season. But maybe, just maybe, I still think OSU deserves to be in the title game.
What? Pull for OSU? Seriously? Yeah. I think so.
Wait. Don’t turn on me yet. I’m not jumping permanently on the Cowboy bandwagon. My ties run too deep. I grew up in a family that was obsessed with OU football. Keep in mind that this was during the 90’s, a time when OU was at an all-time low. My grandmother was a donor and season ticket holder for almost 40 years. When Bud Wilkinson, yes that Bud Wilkinson, ran for local political office after he retired from coaching, my grandfather was his campaign manager. Throw a degree from OU into the mix, and clearly I’m not just the guy who bought a t-shirt at the Owasso Wal-Mart.
So why wouldn’t I hate OSU, especially on a night when they embarrassed the Sooners? Well, because I happen to like some of the folks who call OSU home.
One of my best friends married an OSU girl. She’s fantastic. Another great friend leads a campus ministry in Stillwater. He’s the real deal. My other grandfather went to school in Stillwater so long ago that he referred to it as Oklahoma A&M his entire life. My sister-in-law earned two degrees there and is slowly brainwashing my beautiful niece. There is a church in Stillwater that I have a strong affection for. And if OSU’s Spears School of Business turns out quality people like the alumnus that works in my office, then it can’t be that bad of a place.
Bonus points: I’m not much of a country music guy, but I think we can all agree that OSU's Garth Brooks trumps OU’s Toby Keith any day.
Additionally, I’ve also been impressed by the people I don’t know. From an outsider’s perspective, there seems to be a spirit of long-suffering and endurance in Stillwater that goes beyond just supporting a historically bad football team. People at Oklahoma State remind me constantly that there is always more to life than football. Twice I have watched that community handle extremely tragic airplane accidents with grace and humility. There is unity amongst their alumni that is admirable. They act like family. They don’t lose their ability to think logically if their team loses a game, something that some people in Norman are unable to do. Biased OU fans can call them the “little brother” all they want, but the truth is, OSU fans set the example in a lot of areas.
I’d love for these people to have the joy of watching their Cowboys play in the national championship game.
Will they? I don’t know. It all depends on which school of thought you fall into. Hate the thought of a rematch? Or believe a resume should be based on quality wins? Want an entertaining game? OSU is in. Going with the one loss team that has the best loss? Logic suggests that Alabama would get the nod over Oklahoma State (so would Stanford). Cowboy fans would hate it, and rightfully so. But championship teams don’t lose to 6-6 Iowa State. It’s a cruel system. The BCS gives and the BCS takes away. But if OSU gets in, they will have my support.
I’ll even go as far as to say that an OSU national championship would actually benefit OU. Strong rivals make teams better. Nebraska is gone. Texas, with TCU joining the Big 12 next year, is all of a sudden the third best team in Texas. Like Batman and the Joker, OU and OSU need each other. Look at LSU. They don’t win the SEC every year but the strong competition they face each week has the Tigers playing for their third BCS championship next month.
With that in mind, go Pokes!
Don't get carried away. I still won't wear orange. My allegiance won’t last for long. I still believe Pistol Pete is an ugly mascot. “Orange Power”, the OSU chant, feels more like a line from the Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers than a phrase that should be yelled by 50,000 people. And truth be told, I hope OSU gets embarrassed in Norman next year like the Sooners did tonight. None of my feelings change long-term. But for a few hours in January, I’ll gladly root for OSU.
If you are an OU fan, you should join me.