Thursday, March 28, 2013
Oklahoma State: The people's champion?
By David Ubben
Man, oh man. Mike Gundy was right. When I asked for your vote, I told you about Gundy saying winning the Big 12 title changed the league's perception of his orange-loving program.
The people watched Oklahoma State win the Big 12 title back in 2011, and with a solid team coming back after an eight-win 2012, Big 12 fans don't find it hard at all to envision the Pokes winning a second Big 12 title in three years.
By an emphatic margin, blog readers voted Oklahoma State a Big 12 title contender. Sixty-seven percent of you voted for the Pokes, while just 33 percent say Oklahoma State is a title "pretender." That's the highest percentage any team has received since we opened these polls.
OSU is a solid team, and this poll won't do much for OSU in the standings come fall, but I do think it points directly to what Gundy was talking about. OSU has had teams that might have boasted more talent than the 2013 team. The 2009 squad with Zac Robinson, Dez Bryant, Russell Okung and Kendall Hunter immediately springs to mind, but it never seemed like that team inspired this kind of true belief in its title chance. Texas and Oklahoma being considerably down compared to the 2009 preseason is a factor, sure, but the Pokes have significantly altered the way they're viewed throughout the league.
What will that change on the field? Football isn't best played by folks scared of a reputation, so if anything, it might make the road a little harder with a bunch of teams gunning to beat a team everybody says is great. I don't believe beating Oklahoma State provides the kind of satisfaction Big 12 teams earn from beating national powers like Oklahoma or Texas (even when they're down), but the Pokes are moving up the ladder.
We'll see if the fans are right come fall. But for folks around Stillwater, that kind of respect from around the league has to feel good.