STILLWATER — There were times last spring when Oklahoma State's offense stood ready, often impatiently, waiting for the football to be spotted, so they could quickly snap it in an ongoing effort to play fast.
“If you thought we played fast,” said Cowboys receiver Josh Stewart, raising both eyebrows, “wait until you see us now.”
Actually, the Cowboys prefer no waiting. And the Big 12 is poised to help.
The conference is adding an official to its game crews for the 2013 season — an “alternative referee” — whose primary responsibility is to quickly spot the ball for play.
Eventually, it might even become known as the OSU Rule.
The Cowboys plan to pick up the pace this season; yes, playing even faster than they have under Dana Holgorsen and Todd Monken, with new offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich employing an upper-tempo pace in the spring.
So as far as OSU is concerned, the faster the ball is set, the better.
“I love that the Big 12 has taken the lead on that and putting it into practice and into games,” said Cowboys running backs coach Jemal Singleton. “I think it does help. If the ball is getting spotted faster, we're going to snap it faster.
“I'm not sure how the defensive coordinators feel about it …”
In its no-huddle, hurry-up offense of recent seasons, OSU has produced record numbers for yards and points, doing so with scoring drives that barely dent the game clock. The Cowboys' consistent success has drawn the envy of Texas coach Mack Brown to the point that he's ditching a one-year emphasis on power football to seek similar fast-paced production with his Longhorns.
The Pokes, however, don't seem satisfied. They're almost like America's old test pilots, forever seeking new speed barriers to break.
During spring scrimmages, there were reports that the average time that elapsed from the time when one play was whistled dead and the next play was snapped averaged fewer than 10 seconds.
Yurcich said the Big 12's added official should aid in OSU's aim to push the pedal to the max.
“I hope so,” he said. “In the spring game, they had the extra guy there and it seemed like it sped things up quite a bit. That will be fun to watch, fun to see.”
With hurry-up offenses now becoming the Big 12's personality, it only seems fitting that the league would adjust to a demand to keep up.
“The majority of the teams are playing up-tempo, and the game changes over time,” said Cowboys coach Mike Gundy. “Well, now a number of teams are up-tempo. And this allows the officials to get the ball set where an offense can play and a defense can play, and they can still officiate the game.
“What that does, it allows one person to get the ball and get it set and get out of the way, instead of a person trying to do that and also look at what he's supposed to be looking at to officiate the game.”
And it paves the way for the Cowboys to play fast. Faster. Fastest.