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Oklahoma State football has lost a step or two in positive public relations

OSU football is not the renegade program that Sports Illustrated tried to portray. But off-season scandals are a sign that the Cowboys could get to such status quickly if coaches are not more careful on who they bring in.
by Berry Tramel Published: June 22, 2014

photo - Mike Gundy. Photo from The Oklahman
Mike Gundy. Photo from The Oklahman

Thomas was an early enrollee. The alleged crime occurred May 27. If Thomas had not come to Stillwater in January, he would be labeled an OSU recruit, not an OSU tailback. That’s part of the PR game.

OSU has not removed Thomas from the squad, at least not publicly, but I assume that’s a formality. The Cowboy brass is lying low on Thomas — both Gundy and OSU President Burns Hargis declined to comment on the offseason problems — but I know what they were thinking on Thomas.

I don’t know what the explanation is on the academic progress rating. The Cowboys blamed part of it on players who remained on scholarship but prepared for the NFL Draft instead of going to class in spring semesters. But that’s a problem that afflicts every program with talent.

OSU has taken too many risks. Academic risks. Behavior risks. Attitude risks. Lack of retention is about the only way a football program can fall below the NCAA’s APR standards. With virtually mandatory summer workouts, summer school is a staple for almost every player. Impressive academic support programs exist at most programs on the Big 12 level and certainly that includes OSU. Players have to work hard not to be in good academic standing.

The NCAA’s entrance requirements are so low, almost every prospect can get into school. But that doesn’t mean schools should take all qualifiers. Take too many risks, and you pay for it.

That’s what OSU did. While recruiting better and better talent, the Cowboys were not so focused on prospects’ other characteristics. And now State football is giving back some of the hard-earned PR points from last September.

Berry Tramel: Berry can be reached at (405) 760-8080 or at He can be heard Monday through Friday from 4:40-5:20 p.m. on The Sports Animal radio network, including FM-98.1. You can also view his personality page at

by Berry Tramel
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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