LUBBOCK, Texas — Scott Verplank was on the sidelines, standing right next to coach Pat Jones, when OSU's Brent Parker dropped what would have been a game-winning pass in the 1988 Bedlam game.
Verplank was on the sidelines at Colorado in 1994, when the Cowboys lost and Jones coached out the string of his final season.
Verplank is not a bandwagon fan. Which means this 2011 ride – the second-ranked Cowboys are 10-0 for the first time ever, after routing Texas Tech 66-6 Saturday – is especially sweet for Verplank. And any long-suffering Cowboy fan.
“I'm just excited we're doing things the right way,” said the 25-year PGA Tour golfer, standing on the Jones Stadium ramp Saturday. “All the behind-the-scenes stuff, all the attitude stuff, getting the right kind of kids is starting to pay off.
“So it's very cool that we're actually in this position.”
And Verplank says he never doubted this day could come.
“I always thought it could happen,” Verplank said. “Anything's possible. I play on the PGA Tour. Anything's possible.”
Verplank figures he would have been a football player himself, had he reached 6-foot-3, 220 pounds. Instead, Verplank stopped growing at 5-foot-9 and became one of the America's greatest amateur golfers before turning pro, where he's won five times on tour.
But Verplank stayed with Cowboy football. As a freshman golfer, Verplank met Jones, then an assistant coach. Jones would jog around the intramural fields, where Verplank hit golf balls.
“I've always been around ‘em,” Verplank said. He didn't waver during OSU's dark days. “Since I've been lucky enough to play on the PGA Tour, I appreciate people who stay with you through good and bad,” Verplank said. “I understand what it means.”
Verplank doesn't make every game. He missed the Kansas State classic a week ago because he had promised to take his daughter to the Breeder's Cup in Louisville. He spent that night pacing in front of his hotel room television.
But Verplank makes the games he can. Even skips some golf if the occasion warrants. That 1988 Bedlam game? Verplank missed the Tucson Open that week, even though he was ranked 30th on the PGA money list at the time and risked falling out of the upcoming Tour Championship.
“He's been with us through thick and thin,” said OSU associate athletic director Marty Sargent.
Verplank has been friends with OSU coach Mike Gundy since both were Cowboy athletes.
“Scott's been with us from Day One,” Gundy said. “He's been loyal.
“Very mild-mannered. Very behind the scenes. He's been good friends to me, talking about how to handle things mentally.
“You have a lot of guys who want to be clingers. He's not that way.”