STILLWATER, Okla.--Hope you all enjoyed our look at some of college football's revived rivalries on Friday. We looked at How 2011's Bedlam changed the Big 12 here on the blog, but there was plenty that didn't make the cut in the story.
I heard from a lot of you over the weekend about the piece, and it's important to note that by "changed," we don't mean "flipped the balance of power." But OSU certainly showed the new Big 12 could/would be less top-heavy than the old one. This wasn't a one-year wonder like Orange Bowl champion Kansas in 2007, which also benefited from a weak schedule.
OSU was building to 2011's title for the last 4-5 years, and finally got over the hump.
The one thing everyone from Oklahoma seemed to agree on? How OSU climbed the ladder.
"They’re getting good players," Sooners quarterback Landry Jones said.
Co-offensive coordinator Jay Norvell said the same, but also came away impressed with the side of the ball that got less attention.
"I don’t think there's any question that the quarterback and Blackmon have helped elevate them, and they’ve played very well as a team," he said. "Very opportunistic in what they did defensively last year -- that was the difference in the championship, and our inability to take care of the ball was the difference in us not winning the championship."
Oklahoma State OC Todd Monken knows his role in this rivalry. He left OSU for LSU in 2005 and saw joining the Cowboys in 2011 as an opportunity to rejoin a program that looked much different. He credits Gundy and his staff for building it to this point, but knows last year was special. "I was just on for the ride. This was a good deal. There’s nothing like, and I mean this sincerely, there’s nothing like being part of the first time. No one that’s now currently at OU, and this is no dig, this is anywhere, when they win a national championship, it’s not the first. When Texas wins a championship, it’s not the first. A conference championship? Not the first. So, I’ll always remember that game, because it’s a first. To be part of something," he said. "A conference championship at OU may not be considered special. A conference championship at Texas may not be considered special. For them, national championships are special. Here, (last year's title is) one. That’s special. I’ll always remember that."
Like Isaiah Anderson in the story, OU receiver Kenny Stills said he couldn't help but admit he sees a whole lot more orange around Oklahoma these days. "They played well and they really beat us, so they deserve it," he said.
Coach Mike Gundy on how last year's Bedlam game changed what people thought of the league: "The North and South is gone, but there hadn’t been anybody winning from the North. The last time was when Snyder beat them up in the ice and snow. You’re talking about 10 years," Gundy said. "I don’t think anybody in the country was really even considering anybody outside the South. That’s just a fact. You can say what you want.Then people from here, we’re the northernmost team in the South, didn’t consider anybody but Oklahoma and Texas. And why would they? Nobody else had won it in 10 years."
OSU offensive lineman Jonathan Rush couldn't stop smiling when he thought back on 2011's Bedlam. "We got that taste of gold. We’ve got that Big 12 Championship and it's like a drug. You’re like a fiend afterward. You don't want to lose that feeling," he said. "Being here since 07, we had never beat OU. Me personally, it meant something. We had never beaten them. The classes I was with before that, they had never beaten them. It was kind of like the whipped dog. The guys just came out and just played. That for me, was probably the biggest statement. We’d won games before, but we’d never beaten them."
Monken on OU making OSU its "big game": "It’s only a big game when it’s frickin’ competitive. When it’s not competitive it’s only one-sided. For OSU, it was a big game, but for Oklahoma, Texas was theirs. So, it’s only big when you create it to be big. "
Rush says last year's game should affect the rivalry off the field from the folks outside the program, too. "I guess I could say Sooner fans are pretty stuck in their ways. This a chance for them to say, 'OK, I gotta give ‘em respect now. They beat us. And not by a little bit. Not a fluke.'" Rush said. "I think it gave us a lot of legitimacy. It capped off the season. Every win we had the whole last season should have given us legitimacy. If you can’t see it then, I don’t know what you’re looking at."
Monken on how the Bedlam win changed the OSU fan's mindset: "I promise you, the fans that have been here a long time. If it’s a close game, they’re loud, but they’re not sure we’re going to win that game. You get beat up enough times, your belief is that we’re not going to find a way to win," he said. "I just think that the reality was it put an exclamation point on our season and got us feeling good about ourselves again, as opposed to how we felt 10 days previous."