STILLWATER — A Missouri decal now has a spot on the Bassett family car, sharing the back window with an Oklahoma State sticker that's already been in place for years.
Small victories, Cooper Bassett says.
Less than a year ago, it would have been difficult to fathom Bassett trying to convince anyone to buy anything black and gold. He was the most loyal and true of all Cowboys, coming from a Tuttle family that bleeds orange and serving as one of OSU's biggest spokesmen while evolving into a steady starter on the defensive line.
But now Bassett is trying to break into coaching, starting his journey at Missouri as a recruiting graduate assistant. And wouldn't you know it? His first season includes a Cotton Bowl matchup against his alma mater.
Then add this: Bassett's younger brother, Dawson, is currently redshirting as a Cowboy linebacker.
“I can't be more grateful for all the time and people and experiences I had at Oklahoma State, but that's the nature of this business,” Cooper said. “I enjoyed all that as a player, and now I'm a Mizzou Tiger.
“In preparation for the bowl game, there's absolutely no confliction in my heart. I'm a black-and-gold Mizzou Tiger.”
How's Mom reacting to this family that was bonded by a love of the Cowboys for so long but is now suddenly divided for the Cotton Bowl?
Vicki Bassett will sit in the OSU section at AT&T Stadium with her husband, John. That neither Cooper nor Dawson will actually take the field makes it all a bit easier.
“I'm gonna be happy. I'm gonna enjoy it all,” Vicki said. “I guess that's helping me a little bit not to be quite as emotionally invested.”
The Bassetts, after all, have had respect for Mizzou for years because of offensive coordinator Josh Henson, a Tuttle product and former OSU player and assistant coach. He recruited Cooper while on Les Miles' staff at LSU, then Dawson while at Missouri.
So when Cooper starting looking for his next venture following his playing career, heading to Columbia, Mo., to work in Henson's program was a natural fit.
Cooper's job duties include cutting film of recruits, organizing visits and serving as the “first line” when evaluating prospects. He's hoping this gig will help him transition into an on-field graduate assistant job, but he's enjoyed learning about the logistics and office work required to make a college football program run.