The double oughts (00’s) can be separated by the tenures of, arguably, two of the best coaches Oklahoma State has ever seen, Les Miles* (the * denotes my spitting on the floor anytime I have to type that man’s name.) and current coach, Mike Gundy.
Before patrolling the LSU sidelines, Miles coached at Oklahoma State.
Miles* took the reins in 2001 from Coach Bob Simmons and was instantly welcomed with open arms. As nice a guy as Simmons was, he just wasn’t the answer. So when Miles* came in, it was a relief. Even after the 2001 season where OSU went 4-7, it was an improvement.
The program improved each season until Miles* final year in 2004 when the Cowboys went 7-5 and dropped four of its final five games. He even led the Cowboys to back-to-back wins over a top four ranked Oklahoma, a first in the Bedlam series. But just when the program seemed to be firing on all cylinders Miles* left for LSU and well, let’s just say there have been no parties for him in Stillwater since.
Bring on Mike Gundy, at the time a peculiar hire. I wasn’t sure about having an ex-quarterback coaching OSU, not with the success they had enjoyed. Yes, he was the offensive coordinator under Miles*, but the decision was so quick it left many fans wondering if Oklahoma State had made the right move. After the first season and the Cowboys went 4-7 and Gundy had tossed 11 players from the team. Chaos after a first season does not usually end well for a head coach, but when you have the backing of Boone Pickens, you can do just about anything in Stillwater.
From the opening season to now, the Cowboys have been in a bowl game every season and will be challenging for the first outright Big 12 title in school history and a possible BCS Bowl game, something that would also a first.
Blackmon is a handful.
Best Season: 2010 saw the first 11 win season in school history. A strong 65-17 opening against Washington State was just the beginning to what would be a constant barrage of offense that most teams could only hope to contain. The Cowboys never scored less than 24 points all season and scored 41 in each of its two losses. The 47-41 loss to Oklahoma was a gut wrenching loss. It was a classic game that saw four touchdowns in the final 4:06 and 40 points in the fourth quarter alone. While many teams would allow a heartbreaking loss like that to carry over to the bowl game, the Cowboys instead put a beat down on Arizona in the Alamo Bowl 36-10. The Cowboys were showered with awards. Gundy won the Big 12 Coach of the Year, Offensive Coordinator Dana Holgorson was Rivals.com OC of the year, wide receiver Justin Blackmon won the Biletnikoff winner as the nation’s top wide receiver, kicker Dan Bailey won the Lou Groza award as the nation’s top kicker, and running back Kendall Hunter was a first team All-American from four different outlets.
Worst Season: 2005 was Gundy’s first year as a head coach. And while statistically it was the decade’s worst season, it set the groundwork for everything that has come since. Gundy set up a program with discipline, and in expelling 11 players in the season, he traded a season of games for a program with promise.
Best Season: 2010, see a trend yet? The Cowboys went undefeated in non-conference play. OSU opened the season by plowing through Washington State. I was at the game and started to feel bad for WSU after awhile. Gundy was playing kids that would not see another snap all season, and they were still scoring. Troy was another story, after fumbling the snap in the victory formation the Trojans had a shot at beating the Cowboys for the second time in three years. Yeah you read that right, we fumbled on a kneel down. Defense stepped up, as they often did, and ended the game the offense should have ended. Tulsa never had a chance against the Cowboys, and after trailing Louisiana-Lafayette 21-17 at halftime, the Cowboys outscored ULL 37-7 in the second half to complete the regular season non-conference schedule. After hopes for a BCS bowl were doused by Oklahoma, OSU had to settle for a meeting with Arizona in the Alamo Bowl. Poor Wildcats, they had no idea what they were in for. Even with punter Quinn Sharp academically ineligible, the Cowboys had its way, taming the ‘cats 36-10.
Worst Season: 2002, 2007, 2009. The Cowboys went 3-2 in each of those seasons. The 2009 season stands out the most. After beating a highly ranked Georgia team to open the season, the Cowboy faithful had high hopes for the season. One week later those hopes were dashed. Houston came into Stillwater and controlled the game from start to finish, beating the Cowboys 45-35. The other non-conference loss from that season was a 21-7 loss to Ole Miss in the Cotton Bowl. Dexter McCluster ran wild on the Cowboys, racking up 182 yards and two touchdowns.
Best Season: 2009, 2010. Oklahoma State went 6-2 in each of those seasons, but it’s hard to argue against the 2010 season being the better of the two. The 2009 season featured blowout losses to Texas and Oklahoma, been there done that. The 2010 losses to Nebraska and Oklahoma were killers, and I mean that in a good way. OSU was in both ballgames until the end. One could point to plays in each game and say, “If not for that, we win.” For that reason, 2010 was the better year.
Worst Season: 2005, easily 2005. 1-7 in conference play with the only win coming in a close 24-17 win versus #13 Texas Tech. It was easily the highlight of an otherwise gloomy season.
The Cowboy defense befuddled poor Arizona in the Alamo Bowl.
Best win: 2010 Alamo Bowl. It was a mismatch from the beginning, and showed many that Oklahoma State should not have been matched up against a far less talented Arizona team. The Wildcats had lost its final four regular season games to limp in with a 7-5 record and were matched against a 10-2 Oklahoma State squad licking its wounds from the Oklahoma game. Oklahoma State won by 26 and was never really challenged.
Worst loss: 2004 Alamo Bowl. In what would be Miles* final game at Oklahoma State, the Cowboys faced Ohio State, OSU vs. OSU. The Cowboys came out flat and were handled 33-7. Don’t have much else to say about that.
Overall the Cowboys are riding high. What started out a promising decade turned into a good one. Eight bowl games and where a good season was a winning record, now anything less than a 10-win season will be a disappointment. It’s a good time to be a Cowboy.
Editor’s note: Anytime we can keep our journalistic integrity and add in the best video in college football post game press conference history, we will do so. Thus…
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