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Oklahoma State basketball: Travis Ford under fire from Cowboy fans

Longtime OSU supporter Donnie Stafford is discouraged about the state of basketball. The losses. The dismissals. The transfers. The Marcus Smart incident. He has stopped using his tickets that he's had for three decades because he can no longer watch what he calls the train wreck — Travis Ford.
by Jenni Carlson Published: February 14, 2014

Donnie Stafford has two tickets to Bedlam and zero intentions of using them.

The longtime Cowboy fan is discouraged about the state of State basketball. The losses. The dismissals. The transfers. The Marcus Smart incident.

But he has stopped using tickets that he's had for three decades because he can no longer watch what he calls the train wreck — Travis Ford.

“It's not a personal deal toward Travis Ford,” Stafford said. “I'm sure he's a nice guy.”

Still, Stafford can't stomach seeing his team continually struggle with what he considers to be fundamentals. Out-of-bounds plays. Clock management. Issues that should be handled by the coach.

He wants a coaching change — and he hopes to send that message with his empty seats in Section 327.

Stafford isn't the only Cowboy fan who's reached a tipping point. In the days leading up to Bedlam, The Oklahoman asked the OSU fans to tell us how they're feeling. We received email from 48 of them, and only five could be classified as positive. Amid the disappointment and despair of the other 43, a whopping 34 lamented about Ford.

To clarify, we didn't ask Cowboy fans for their opinions of the coach. We asked how they felt about OSU basketball, and in answering that, nearly three out of four expressed some level of frustration with Ford.

A sampling:

James Erkin, McAlester: “If I had a heart attack and die watching an OSU basketball game, they need to file murder charges on Travis Ford because watching his teams is killing me.”

Justin Phillips, Broken Arrow: “I don't believe that Coach Ford instills the discipline or toughness that is necessary in his players, and it has become blatantly obvious with our performance on the court and numerous issues off the court.”

Blake Follis, Tulsa: “The excuses for Travis Ford have been made. They all begin with a wait-and-see approach. I have waited, and I have seen. In fact, I have seen enough.”

To be fair, there were a couple fans who stuck up for Ford.

“Why is there talk of his job being in jeopardy?” said Gary DeShazer, an OSU grad living in Charlotte, N.C. “He is not the one on the court. The players are not making their shots. We can't seem to make a free throw either.

“I feel sorry for Ford and support him a hundred percent.”

Coaches, of course, come under fire all the time. It wasn't so long ago that some Oklahoma fans wanted Bob Stoops run out of Norman on the first train to anywhere. Then the Sooners won Bedlam and beat Alabama, and what do you know, those calls for Stoops' head stopped.

Yet, it sure seems like Cowboy fans smell blood, a $10 million-plus buyout be damned.

The relationship between Ford and fans has never been spectacular. There is a faction of the Cowboy faithful that refused to embrace him because he wasn't a branch from the Iba-Sutton coaching tree. That's their prerogative. But by in large, most Cowboy fans gave him a chance. They wanted to welcome him. They wanted to love him.

Continue reading this story on the...

by Jenni Carlson
Jenni Carlson, a sports columnist at The Oklahoman since 1999, came by her love of sports honestly. She grew up in a sports-loving family in Kansas. Her dad coached baseball and did color commentary on the radio for the high school football...
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