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Oklahoma State football: Why OSU is better off expressing shame than blame

COMMENTARY — The tone of Oklahoma State's official response to a Sports Illustrated investigation has changed, from contrite to defiant — and from better to worse.
by Berry Tramel Published: September 10, 2013

OSU has some wiggle room in the Sports Illustrated-reported scandal that landed on our laptops Tuesday morning.

Who knows what's coming in the next three days, but the scathing allegations on paying players offered no examples since 2007.

And Sports Illustrated itself gave OSU an opening by including Oklahoman Thayer Evans as a main man on the investigative team. Evans has a track record of OSU-bashing – “Chokie State,” he called the Cowboys 23 months ago. SI dented its own credibility with that decision.

But as this dark OSU week continues, the Cowboy brass shouldn't be in the wiggling business.

OSU should stand up tall. Stand up tall and admit that something was rotten in Stillwater, even if the Cowboys don't know for sure just what. Stand up and be summarily shamed.

Shame is not such a bad thing. We need more shame in America. We need more assuming of responsibility.

OSU needs more action like it displayed Monday and less action like it displayed Tuesday.

Monday, Mike Holder stood up and said exactly the right thing to his constituents: “You're not going to be real proud about what's being said about you, but we hope to make you proud about the way we dealt with it and how we stood up, didn't make any excuses, we're not going to try to cover anything up.”

But Tuesday, buoyed by the support of dozens of former players who said they never saw anyone receive cash and an indictment of Thayer Evans by even some of his former colleagues, the script had changed. OSU grew a little more defiant.

Holder clarified his Monday apology to fans and the Big 12, saying he was apologizing for the bad PR and was not admitting wrongdoing by OSU.

OK. But then Boone Pickens called the Sports Illustrated report “disappointing,” because SI didn't focus on what OSU had done in recent years to change its culture.

Decent point. And finally, OSU established a website,, “to keep the media, alumni, fans and general public updated on Oklahoma State's official responses and the university's plans for moving forward to investigate and address the alleged misconduct.” It seems to be serving as a virtual pep rally to keep Cowboy Nation fired up.

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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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