I didn’t see the botched extra point that let Oklahoma State escape Texas Tech Saturday night.
Despite being there inside Boone Pickens Stadium I missed it because I had turned my back to talk to the people I’ve shared a section with years. As the PAT sailed wide I was asking “why do I even like football? All it does is make me mad!”
A few minutes later I was hugging the lady in front of me as Chris Carson trucked a defender right in front of our seats, just to kneel a step later, not scoring on purpose so the Cowboys could run the clock out and guarantee the one point victory.
I was in love with football again, and it was exhausting.
Such a quick swing of emotions during a game is commonplace for Cowboy fans. Just the week before I was pumping my fist in my brother’s living room while Carson dragged a Kansas State defender the final 10 yards to the end zone for the go ahead score just to be watching through my fingers a few minutes later as the Wildcats threw into the other end zone trying to win as time expired.
If you’re smart you don’t leave an OSU game early, you don’t change the channel even for a second, because you’ll miss it. What is “it” you might be asking, and if you are you obviously are a fan of a different team.
The thing with OSU football is it’s utterly unpredictable. We orange clad fans are used to having to hold our breath because “it” will happen almost every game. There always seems to be something that makes the Pokes’ games both infuriating and fascinating.
You want to see an All American kicker miss a field that costs a team an undefeated season and a chance to play for the National Championship? They have you covered. Are you a fan of referee errors? Well how about an extra, untimed down after the game is over that results in a Hail Mary hook and lateral that results in a loss? Done it.
And the bizarreness isn’t limited to the Cowboys, it effects their opponents as well. Ever see a coach accept a penalty on a punt so he can kick it again, resulting in a 92 yard punt return touchdown that forces overtime and an eventual loss? The normally level-headed Bob Stoops did just that.
Those are very prominent and recent examples but any OSU fan could go on for hours about impossible turns of events, plays that break the laws of physics, coaching decisions that baffle the mind, and outcomes that defy the laws of probability. Clock mismanagement. Strange bounces. Comebacks for the ages. You name it, they’ve probably seen it. Sometimes in the Cowboys’ favor, sometimes not. I still have nightmares about a Vince Young pump fake turned 80 yard touchdown scramble to open the floodgates for Texas.
Which brings me to my point: being an Oklahoma State football fan is an amazing experience!
Every week brings an almost sinister roller coaster of feelings. OSU regularly beat teams they shouldn’t. Teams they’re supposed to beat, well they get beat by them often. If OSU plays a team that is evenly matched with them….. woo boy! You’d better watch that game because it’s probably going to be crazy.
I honestly feel sorry for fans of teams like Alabama, Ohio State, and Oklahoma. That’s the truth. Most of their games are forgone conclusions. They almost always have better talent than their opponents. Their coaches are some of the best in the business. They win 10, 11, 12 games a year, every year, with few hiccups. They are always the conference favorites, they have rosters full of the next NFL stars, and they rarely disappoint the fans.
But that has to get boring, right? Sure, a decent team will always have a puncher’s chance against one of these blue bloods but the reality is the fans of these caliber of teams go into every game expecting to win, and win big. Anything else is unacceptable.
Is that really that fun for Crimson Tide fans watching the team grind everyone under their heel? Do Buckeye fans even get nervous anymore after they won the National Championship easily with a 3rd string quarterback? Sooner fans have had it more rough than usual the last few years with Baylor becoming briefly relevant (that’s over), but after the fall of Texas they really haven’t had a challenger in the Big 12, winning the league almost every year even when the Longhorns were still rolling. Things don’t always go as planned for these teams, but they usually do. Fans of these teams don’t watch the games to cheer their team on to victory, they watch the games to see their team WIN. It’s a subtle difference yes, but I feel like it would dull the fun a bit.
That’s what separates Oklahoma State fandom from theirs: the Cowboy faithful don’t have the expectation of victory. They want to win, they long for it, and they cheer for their team trying to will it to happen. They empty themselves of all they have hoping for just one more first down, or that turnover they need, or for the defense to just tackle anyone because every game hangs in that close of a balance. Being a State fan is like walking the edge of a knife: they live and die with every play, not just the with the end result of the game.
I know because I live it, and it’s spectacular.
No, in my mind those expectations of victory some fan bases have leads to complacency, and complacency is boring. I don’t go to Stillwater on Saturdays expecting to win, in fact I’m usually scared to death regardless who the Cowboys are playing. I pace the floor of wherever I’m watching away games from. I’m the guy that wrings my hands, gets sick to my stomach, and decides that every bad play that happens just cost us the game. “Don’t speak to me, the game is on.”
But I’m also the guy that jumps up and down when James Washington somehow gets behind the secondary for an 82 yard touchdown pass to take the lead (two games in a row, folks. Two games in a row!). I’m the guy that hugs and high-fives and fist bumps everyone I can get to when they score. Do I know you? Doesn’t matter. You are getting hugged. I’m the guy that makes the same lame “never a doubt” joke when I get back to the tailgate after another thrilling win I was lucky enough to witness in person.
I enjoy walking the line every week. I enjoy football more because of the constant fear of the irrational happening. I like going into work on Monday and discussing whatever insanity happened in the game instead of just talking about another win. I pity the people that don’t get to experience the elation that is only magnified by the threat of constant disappointment. Can you truly appreciate the highs without ever really experiencing the lows?
No, I don’t think you can. Being an Oklahoma State fan is more fun than being a fan of any other college football team, and you’ll never convince me otherwise.
Plus Mike Gundy has a mullet. That’s just the icing on the cake.