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Oklahoma State football: Sports Illustrated series was about perception more than truth

COMMENTARY — Where SI saw a program that was part of the ‘Dirty Game,' OSU can claim, based on the series' evidence, that it has changed the culture.
by Berry Tramel Published: September 17, 2013

The OSU/Sports Illustrated saga has reached a merciful end, which thrills at least three parties.

OSU. SI. Me.

Probably you, too, but I don't claim to speak for anyone else.

But now that all five installments have been posted for posterity's sake, with black eyes abundant on both sides, we can start to figure out the exact fallout.

Sports Illustrated, which seemed to have less and less stomach for its own series the longer it lasted, retreated and declared victory.

Now it's time for OSU to do the same. And the Cowboys have some ammunition to do just that.

The SI project was not so much about truth as it was perception. Looking at a long list of allegations and deciding what to make of the mess.

Sports Illustrated looked and saw “Dirty Game.” Saw a corrupt culture.

OSU can look and see a transformation. Saw a changed culture.

And that's using Sports Illustrated's own evidence. The vast majority of SI's allegations occurred during the Les Miles years, 2001-04. And the majority of the Mike Gundy-era allegations, both NCAA violations and general morality situations, occurred during the early Gundy years.

Counting just the last five years, 2008 and since, here are the specific accusations:

* Tailback Dexter Pratt says marijuana ruined his life and OSU didn't provide adequate counseling;

* Spiritual adviser/drug counselor Joel Tudman, hired in 2006, was not credentialed to help with substance abuse and falsified his résumé;

* Assistant coach Joe DeForest, who left for West Virginia in 2012, paid players for performance, though no examples were given since 2007;

* Gundy allowed receiver Bo Bowling back on the team after a drug conviction;

* Tutors did academic work for star receiver Dez Bryant;

* LeRon Furr said recruits had sex with Orange Pride hostesses;

* Gerron Anthony said players in 2012 sold drugs;

* Herschel Sims said 15-20 players on the Fiesta Bowl team in 2011 would have failed a drug test.

That's it. Few allegations, all vague. No specific names. No specific incidents. Just generalizations. Go back 10 years, and you get way more than generalizations. Dozens of specific examples of players saying they got paid a certain amount by a certain person, or were helped by specific tutors for specific classes.

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by Berry Tramel
Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The Oklahoman,...
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