Big 12: Bob Fenimore
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
Oklahoma State doesn't have as much football history as some Big 12 schools, but the Cowboys still have several worthy candidates who belong on the school's version of Mount Rushmore for Cowboy football greats.
And I didn't consider T. Boone Pickens, despite his megabuck support for the school over the years, limiting inclusion to players and coaches.
Here are my four picks:
- Barry Sanders -- A starter for only the 1988 season, but what a season it was. Sanders averaged 7.6 yards per carry and rushed for a then-college football record 2,628 rushing yards and 37 touchdowns, capping the season with the Heisman Trophy.
- Thurman Thomas -- A two-time All-American tailback who left school with a record 4,595 rushing yards.
- Bob Fenimore -- The legendary "Blonde Bomber" was Oklahoma State's first two-time All-American. He led the nation in rushing with 1,048 yards in 1945, finishing third in Heisman balloting.
- Mike Gundy -- Four-season starter at quarterback from 1986-89 who became the career passing leader in Oklahoma State and Big 12 history when he left school. And his coaching has been noteworthy -- even with the controversy -- after three straight bowl trips and a chance for perhaps the school's most notable season in 2009.
There could have been a space on Oklahoma State's Mount Rushmore for Terry Miller, Dez Bryant, Tatum Bell, Jon Kolb or Leslie O'Neal. But in the end, I could pick only four.
And the four selected, I think, best represent the school.
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
Life has gotten a lot better for Bob Stoops over the last week.
|J. Meric/Getty Images|
|Sooners quarterback Sam Bradford announced Wednesday he will be returning to Oklahoma for another season.|
Bradford clearly is the biggest catch, although the returns to school of tackle Trent Williams, tight end Jermaine Gresham and defensive tackle Gerald McCoy all should bolster the Sooners' bid to continue their recent dynasty of three-straight Big 12 championships.
In a way, I'm a little surprised that Bradford will be coming back to college. He was projected to be a first-round selection in the NFL draft and among the first two or three quarterbacks selected.
But he made it clear Wednesday that he's having too much fun to give up on his college career yet.
The Oklahoma announcements suddenly will transform the Sooners into a viable contender for the Big 12 South title. Texas still will be the favorite heading into the season, but Oklahoma will be able to contest the Longhorns.
The Red River Rivalry, already bitter after the Sooners jumped the Longhorns for the Big 12 South championship game berth this season, has just gotten even more interesting.
It should be another exciting season in the Big 12 with eight of the conference's starting quarterbacks returning after the most explosive offensive season in the conference's brief history. Only Kansas State's Josh Freeman, Missouri's Chase Daniel, Nebraska's Joe Ganz and Texas Tech's Graham Harrell will depart among the Big 12's starting quarterbacks.
Bradford will be operating behind a retooled offensive line that will feature four new starters. But he said he relishes the challenge of returning to school for another season.
I've also got to think that Bradford realizes the potential of a third-straight matchup with Colt McCoy in the Red River Rivalry game in October might be a reason to come back. He also will attempt to become the first player since Archie Griffin to claim back-to-back Heismans.
And his chances will only improve with the return of Gresham, who played like the nation's best tight end down the stretch.
Gresham was the Sooners' top receiver late in the season, producing two touchdown grabs against Florida in the BCS National Championship Game among his 14 touchdown receptions for the season. That total led all of the nation's tight ends and tied for sixth nationally.
Bradford's return also should heighten anticipation for next season. The top three finishers in the Heisman Trophy balloting from this season -- Bradford, McCoy and Florida's Tim Tebow -- all will return to college next season. It will mark only the second time in history and the first time since 1946 that all top three Heisman finishers will return to college for another season.
In 1945, Army's Doc Blanchard won the trophy with his teammate Glenn Davis finishing second and Oklahoma A&M's Bob Fenimore third.
All came back the following season. Davis won the trophy with Blanchard finishing fourth and Fenimore not placing among the top five because of injuries.
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
Here are a few factoids about Oklahoma State's bowl history heading into the Cowboys' game tonight in the Pacific Life Holiday Bowl against Oregon.
Bowl record: 12-6
Current bowl streak: Won 2.
Most memorable bowl victory: Then known as Oklahoma A&M, the Cowboys blitzed St. Mary's (Calif.) in the 1946 Sugar Bowl with a 33-13 victory that capped a 9-0 season. All-American tailback Bob "The Blonde Bomber" Fenimore ran for two scores and passed for another score as the Cowboys finished No. 5 in the final AP poll after the victory -- the best ranking in school history.
Worst bowl loss: Les Miles was negotiating with LSU officials as his team prepared for the 2004 Alamo Bowl and it showed. Ohio State played without starting quarterback Troy Smith, but didn't miss him in the Buckeyes' 33-7 triumph. Backup Justin Zwick passed for 189 yards and a touchdown despite struggling with a hamstring pull to lead Ohio State's victory. Leading Oklahoma State rusher Vernand Morency was limited to 24 yards as the Cowboys didn't score until late in the game.
Best individual/team performance: Oklahoma State rolled up 698 yards after being paced by three highlight efforts in their 62-14 victory over Wyoming in the 1988 Holiday Bowl. Barry Sanders set Holiday Bowl records with 222 rushing yards and five touchdowns to pace an offensive attack that also included a 315-yard passing effort by quarterback Mike Gundy and a 10-catch, 163-yard outing by wide receiver Hart Lee Dykes.
Record against Oregon: The teams have never played.
Common 2008 opponents: Washington State. The Cowboys defeated Washington State on Aug. 30 at Seattle, 39-13. Oregon won on Sept. 27 at Washington State, 63-14.
The number: 9. That is how many Big 12 teams have won at least 10 games in a season since Oklahoma State last achieved the feat in 1988. The only Big 12 teams not to win 10 games in a season since then are Baylor and Iowa State.