OSU has some wiggle room in the Sports Illustrated-reported scandal that landed on our laptops Tuesday morning.
Who knows what's coming in the next three days, but the scathing allegations on paying players offered no examples since 2007.
And Sports Illustrated itself gave OSU an opening by including Oklahoman Thayer Evans as a main man on the investigative team. Evans has a track record of OSU-bashing – “Chokie State,” he called the Cowboys 23 months ago. SI dented its own credibility with that decision.
But as this dark OSU week continues, the Cowboy brass shouldn't be in the wiggling business.
OSU should stand up tall. Stand up tall and admit that something was rotten in Stillwater, even if the Cowboys don't know for sure just what. Stand up and be summarily shamed.
Shame is not such a bad thing. We need more shame in America. We need more assuming of responsibility.
OSU needs more action like it displayed Monday and less action like it displayed Tuesday.
Monday, Mike Holder stood up and said exactly the right thing to his constituents: “You're not going to be real proud about what's being said about you, but we hope to make you proud about the way we dealt with it and how we stood up, didn't make any excuses, we're not going to try to cover anything up.”
But Tuesday, buoyed by the support of dozens of former players who said they never saw anyone receive cash and an indictment of Thayer Evans by even some of his former colleagues, the script had changed. OSU grew a little more defiant.
Holder clarified his Monday apology to fans and the Big 12, saying he was apologizing for the bad PR and was not admitting wrongdoing by OSU.
OK. But then Boone Pickens called the Sports Illustrated report “disappointing,” because SI didn't focus on what OSU had done in recent years to change its culture.
Decent point. And finally, OSU established a website, response.okstate.edu, “to keep the media, alumni, fans and general public updated on Oklahoma State's official responses and the university's plans for moving forward to investigate and address the alleged misconduct.” It seems to be serving as a virtual pep rally to keep Cowboy Nation fired up.
I understand. It's human nature. But such defiance is counterproductive. Don't forget the shame.
Sure, there are holes in SI's report. But not that many holes. This is a long-trusted American source of sports. Sports Illustrated is not a scandal sheet. It's not in the business of lazy journalism.
Even if only half the allegations are true, the remaining half is an imposing number.
Even if you throw out the testimony of all the players, there's self-incriminating information in the report.
Joe DeForest admitting he employed players privately to work at his house. Are you kidding me? That's reckless in and of itself. No way OSU should have allowed that to go on, no matter how long it did.
DeForest had a loose cannon reputation in his 11 years in Stillwater. Can anyone truthfully say they're shocked at the claims that DeForest paid players for performance?
And Sports Illustrated is not even to the academic, drug culture and sex portions of the report.
This is no time for OSU to get feisty and fight back. That's a no-win gameplan. Not against Sports Illustrated. Not in the court of public opinion.
Defiance doesn't play well with the NCAA. Defiance draws flies. Contrition draws mercy.
A stiff upper lip and a vow to get to the bottom of the allegations is a better move. The Cowboys always have the out that Pickens espouses — things have changed.
No reason to play that card now. Shame, with a vow to do better, is the way to go.
Berry Tramel: Berry can be reached at (405) 760-8080 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. He can be heard Monday through Friday from 4:40-5:20 p.m. on The Sports Animal radio network, including FM-98.1. You can also view his personality page at newsok.com/berrytramel.