OSU sideline reporter
Perhaps no media member has been more strongly attached to Oklahoma State than Robert Allen.
An OSU grad, Allen currently speaks to Cowboys fans through many avenues — print, online, Stillwater talk radio and as the sideline voice of the Cowboy Radio network. He teamed with OSU coach Mike Gundy on a book chronicling the 2011 season, “More Than A Championship: The 2011 Oklahoma State Cowboys.”
Allen met his wife, Lynne, at OSU. His son Zach played football for the Cowboys, and this year his daughter Katy was one of five finalists for homecoming queen.
And when Allen calls himself an OSU homer, he says it with pride.
I had a good home, a mom and dad who were supportive. But my influence in this state were my aunt and uncle, Billie Jean Ward and Bill Ward. I used to come up and spend summers with them. That's kind of where I got that affinity for Oklahoma State.
I'd go over and just walk around Gallagher, Gallagher Hall at the time, and would hang out around the locker room and ended up meeting football players. I was just a junior high kid. And it was like I almost got to hang out with them.
I pretty much knew I wasn't going to be a professional athlete or anything like that, but was one of those guys coaches liked, because I tried hard and I liked to practice.
It was probably in high school, and college for sure, that I first started thinking about sports media. I wanted to stay in sports.
I walked on at OSU and played for one year. Tough. It's painful to find out that you aren't as good as you are in your own mind. Not even close.
I never went to Padre or on a spring break trip. My last spring break, I barnstormed Texas, walking into TV stations and corralling news directors to look at my tape.
I was there for a year and I got a call from Bob Barry to come home (to Channel 4).
Those were real happy years at Channel 4. Bob Jr. in the sports department, it was like family.
I covered OU. I covered OU basketball. Inside, Bobby and I would have monster debates. He went to OU.
I remember when I left Channel 4 to go to Remington Park, I could do whatever I wanted on my own, so I realigned and said, “OSU's my thing.”
When I got back into it, I made a conscious decision that I was going to be a homer. That term may be derogatory for a lot of people, but it's not for me. When I came back into the business through radio, I said, “OSU doesn't have a voice out there.” And there were plenty of OU guys.
I went to WWLS. They wanted to do some OSU stuff. I liked it, I learned that I liked radio. I had fun with it. And because I was one of the few OSU people, I had callers, because OSU people were starving for someone willing to listen to them.
When the station sold, I got left high and dry. That was a good time in my life, in that I said, “I'm going to fight.” I went to Stillwater and got on radio and have been there ever since.
I would say I have a lot of listeners who I know only through the radio relationship. Would I call them friends? Absolutely. I have some I've never seen in person that I would call friends, because I enjoy talking to them.
There's a guy named T-Town who calls. He knows how to push my buttons and I know how to push his. I've never seen him, but if I did, we're friends.
Sometimes, I have people in my own family, believe it or not, say, “You're awful quiet.” I say, “I've been talking on the radio.”
It meant so much for my two kids to go to OSU.
When Zach was being recruited, SMU and Iowa State were some schools he was looking at. He came in one night and said, “You know, I think SMU is too far away.” I looked at my wife and said, “OK, that answers that.”
I said this last week, because Katy was one of the five finalists for homecoming queen, “As much as OSU's done for me, and as much as I've enjoyed all the things that have happened and been involved with at Oklahoma State, by far, what Oklahoma State has done for my kids is something I could never repay.” And it's something I could never thank the people involved enough.
Words can't describe the joy that Oklahoma State has given our family. Period.
Every Saturday, I feel like I'm part of, if not the best team in the stadium, one of the best teams in the stadium with Dave Hunziker and John Holcomb on the radio broadcasts. Dave is a great friend, as is John.
The sideline gig is a blast. It's not the thing I do that makes the most money, but it's the best thing I do. I love being on that team with Dave and John. They do a great job. I hope I carry my weight. I love being around the kids.
We hear the fans on the front rows. When things are good, it's great. When things are bad, they're yelling. They're mad. But if they knew what these kids do on a daily basis. If they knew the injuries these kids fight through, I don't think they'd ever get mad at these kids.
We have to be critical on the broadcasts at times. A guy drops a pass, a guy fumbles a ball, misses a tackle … we'll call it. But I never call it in anger. I call it as in, “Hey, they're human.” I know what these guys go through. I know the sacrifices they make. They're not in Afghanistan.
These kids put their heart and soul into it and sometimes their bodies. I respect what goes on. I could never be mad at these kids.
The most fun is being around the game and being around those kids. I love to walk up and down the sideline during a game and see their faces. To be around them, I'm 52, my body gives out, but when I'm on those sidelines, I'm 19, 20, 21 years old. Because that's what I'm around.
I think there's a lot of people who'd like to be out there at the coin toss.
Two of the things I love about the coin toss, I look around and get a panoramic view, because you get a sense of how magnificent that setting is; and both sides, I always make sure I make eye contact with at least one captain on both teams. I want to see what's in their eyes. I want to see that excitement. These are all kids who play, so these guys are about to get into this.
I make sure I'm real nice to all those referees. And they're all pretty good.
We're always looking for ways to bring the radio audience into the stadium. One time I just said, “I'm thinking about going out for the coin toss. I can get out there, and if they'll let us, I'll put the mike in the captain's face.”
I've met resistance in the Pac-12. And last year at the BCS, they don't allow it. And that's OK, I understood.
I've only been rolled up on the sidelines once, at Kansas.
There's one place in particular I get yelled at quite a bit. But I expect it. It didn't come as a surprise. I have a lot of friends in Norman. They all tell me I'm No. 1.
I'm a homer, but I consider myself a realistic homer. When it's not good, I can tell you it's not good and it doesn't hurt my feelings. I want it to be good, because I think that's really what a homer is. A homer wants the team he's covering or around to do good. But it doesn't mean he can't sit there and realistically say, “Well, that's good.”
It's been a heck of a ride. I wouldn't trade it for anything. Not everything on the ride has been good. There have been some really frustrating times and there have some sad times. But in the end, the scrapbook of what I've done is pretty cool. Good stuff.