STILLWATER — Brandon Weeden remembers a conversation with former Oklahoma State teammate Cole Reynolds while the Cowboys were in Arizona to play in the 2007 Insight Bowl.
“Man, this bowl is unbelievable,” Weeden told Reynolds. “Can you imagine playing in a BCS Bowl? The Fiesta Bowl? It'd be sweet to someday get a chance to come out here and play and be in the big one.
“It's crazy what five years will do.”
The OSU quarterback was redshirting back then, yet taking in his first bowl experience. And in a couple weeks, Weeden will get his wish, capping his record-setting Cowboy career with a return trip to the Phoenix area to face No. 4 Stanford in the Fiesta Bowl.
“It's kind of the icing on the cake to an unbelievable career at Oklahoma State,” Weeden said. “I think I speak for all the guys I came in with in that '07 class.”
Weeden, of course, did not play in OSU's 49-33 Insight Bowl win against Indiana. Neither did the other nine players on the current OSU roster who were redshirting that season. But they still got all the perks — the swag, the fancy hotel room, the week in the Valley of the Sun.
Yet that year, the Cowboys shared the desert with rival Oklahoma, which was preparing to take on West Virginia in the Fiesta Bowl. And in a bit of a wacky coincidence, OU will join OSU in Arizona again this year, but now it's the Sooners playing in the Insight Bowl against Iowa.
Even though the Fiesta and Insight Bowls are run by the same committee, there is little, if any, crossover between the four teams playing in the two games. Weeden does not remember seeing OU players during that week in 2007 because their hotels and practice sites were in different parts of the Phoenix area.
“I don't remember even seeing any OU fans,” Weeden said. “I may have. I wasn't really worried about it.”
That doesn't mean Weeden wasn't completely aware that the Fiesta Bowl was going on. Signs were plastered all over town. It was the main event. That helped spark the conversation between him and Reynolds, and served as motivation.
Since playing in the Insight Bowl, the Cowboys have climbed up the bowl pecking order, earning berths in the Holiday, Cotton and Alamo Bowls the next three seasons. Then came the 2011 campaign, where OSU went 11-1, won its first outright conference championship and earned an automatic spot in the BCS.
“Not to take anything away from what we were able to do in '07 to go to a bowl game,” Weeden said. “(Now) we expect to win a lot of games and we expect to go to bowl games and we expect to go to big-time bowl games.”
OSU's convincing 44-10 Bedlam victory over OU last week was also a big factor in the Sooners' tumble to the Insight Bowl. But, just like 2007, Weeden does not expect much interaction with OU players or fans while the two teams are in Phoenix.
Weeden does acknowledge, however, that the bowl role reversal this season is just another example of how far his 2007 class, and the OSU program as a whole, has come.
“It's interesting just to think where this program has kind of taken itself to,” Weeden said. “Obviously, Oklahoma's been traditionally a very good program forever. To put ourselves in that same category this season, as a player, that's pretty special.”