Cowboy Down: Oklahoma State Is College Football’s Redheaded Stepchild

“I went to Norman and had a BB gun with Oklahoma State. When I went with Miami I had a .357 magnum.”

In two crude, to-the-point sentences, Jimmy Johnson perfectly described the Oklahoma State Football program.

While the Cowboys would like you to believe they are a powerhouse program equipped with the arsenal of the game’s great programs, the truth is Oklahoma State is a Ponzi scheme. A program giving off the illusion of a blue-chipper will providing results of a much lesser outfit.

The school in Stillwater, formerly known as the Oklahoma A&M Aggies, has been around since 1900. They won one national championship* in 1945.

Why did Oklahoma State go on twitter to mention a national championship presumably won 72 years earlier?

Glad you asked.

It seems as though the American Football Coaches of America did not award a national champion from 1922-1949. So the association got together a bunch of old “football guys” to retroactively award national champions. For the most part the “veteran” committee’s picks coincided with the Associated Press’ national champions. Too spice things up, the group decided to allow any university to state their case as to why they should be awarded a national championship pre-World War II.


I’m sure the committee looked at the Cowboys case and responded with, “I guess.”

In 1945 Army beat 5 ranked opponents including #2 Notre Dame 48-0 in week 7 and then #2 Navy 33-12 in week 9. In the final AP poll, Army received 115 of 116 1st place votes.

Army had just defeated Hitler and Germany and still had enough cadets to absolutely romp though the American football landscape and Oklahoma State wants to try and steal that honor. Pretty clear the Cowboys hate the troops.

Putting OSU’s pettiness aside, the Cowboys haven’t had a lot of high-caliber players make it to the next level. What they lack in quantity, they make up for in quality.

Dez Bryant, Thurman Thomas and Barry Sanders all spent some time down in Stillwater. Thomas and Sanders–two hall-of-fame running backs–were in the backfield at the same time. Can someone explain how in 1986 and 1987 you had both Thomas and Sanders and the best you could do was 6-5 and 10-2. Possibly because Sanders and Thomas rarely if ever were in the backfield at the same time. Both Thomas and Sanders never beat Nebraska or Oklahoma.

The statistics on Oklahoma State and its rivals is pretty harrowing.

As the above tweet would indicate, against its biggest “rival” Oklahoma, the Cowboys are 18-86-7. Losers of 12 of the last 14 Bedlam matchups. This isn’t a rivalry as much as it is a tune-up for whoever the Sooners will play in a conference championship or a bowl game. That could explain why OK-State took up a rivalry with Tulsa (not sure if that’s another retroactive decision).

In any event, Oklahoma State does have a few coaches who have made a name for themselves–not entirely while at OSU. Jimmy Johnson coached the team from 1979-1983, compiling a 29-25-3 record, which could be considered successful. Of course he went on to win a national championship at Miami and two Super Bowls with Dallas.

Dirk Koetter was the head coach for a few hours. After accepting the job, Koetter reneged on his offer in order to coach at Arizona State.

Les Miles launched his coaching career in Stillwater before winning a national championship at LSU.

It seems now though Oklahoma State has found stability in a man in his 40s.

Mike Gundy was the quarterback during the underachieving years with Thomas and Sanders and has brought that same middling success to Stillwater.

Gundy has led Oklahoma State achingly close to a breakthrough. In 2011 the team owned its own destiny at 10-0 only to falter to 5-4 Iowa State and miss out on the national championship game.

Since then, the Cowboys have made a name for themselves for putting up points and…well that’s about it. The team seems to love their coach and what’s not to like? Gundy is mullet-wearing, gun-slinging, fast-talking, swaggy-G, who is not afraid to take his shirt off with his quarterback in some sort of Stillwater ritual.

If you’re unsure of who’s who, Gundy is the one with the guns. Unfortunately for the football team and its supporters, it’s about all the weaponry the team has or will ever have.

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