Berry Tramel

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Oklahoma State football: Recruiting helped by Sports Illustrated?

by Berry Tramel Modified: November 18, 2013 at 4:15 pm •  Published: November 18, 2013
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OSU head coach Mike Gundy grabs James Thomas (22) late in the fourth quarter after Thomas intercepted a pass to end Texas A&M's final drive during a college football game between the Oklahoma State Cowboys and the Texas A&M Aggies at Kyle Field in College Station, Texas, Saturday, Sept. 24, 2011. OSU won, 30-29. Photo by Nate Billings, The Oklahoman
OSU head coach Mike Gundy grabs James Thomas (22) late in the fourth quarter after Thomas intercepted a pass to end Texas A&M's final drive during a college football game between the Oklahoma State Cowboys and the Texas A&M Aggies at Kyle Field in College Station, Texas, Saturday, Sept. 24, 2011. OSU won, 30-29. Photo by Nate Billings, The Oklahoman

Remember in the days after Sports Illustrated’s September report on improper activity within the OSU football program?

The Onion, a satirical web site, reported that in the wake of SI’s allegations of rampant sex, drugs, cash payments and academic assistance to Cowboy football players, “every single one of the nation’s top 300 high school football recruits had committed to OSU.”

Mike Gundy didn’t go that far Monday in talking about the impact of the Sports Illustrated report. But two months after a trying week of negative publicity, Gundy said the Cowboys had weathered the storm.

“It’s interesting,” Gundy said. “I think we had 19 commitments prior to it. I think we have 22 now. I think it helped us in recruiting. It benefited our program.”

Gundy said “four or five” players who had shown little interest in OSU before SI’s report called, expressing interest after the report.

Gundy didn’t say exactly how SI’s report helped entice recruits. Let’s assume The Onion’s satire was exactly that. And frankly, just because a program has 22 commitments now compared to 19 two months ago is no great sign of thriving.

But new interest in the school is interesting. And there don’t appear to be any immediate ramifications.

“For the most part, until somebody brings it up, it’s almost like it faded,” Gundy said.

Why? “The report and the way we responded, I think it helped us,” Gundy said.

OSU’s public relations campaign helped neutralize much of the SI fallout. Many of the SI sources renounced their statements, which frankly is not out of the ordinary, but some others were debunked. Which helped OSU’s cause.

“I know people think, ‘he’s lost it again,’” Gundy said. But Gundy said he’s serious. Recruiting has been enhanced since September.

Maybe any publicity is good publicity.

“I wonder if people may have thought, ‘we’ll check them out.’”

 

 

by Berry Tramel
Columnist
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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