STILLWATER — Bob Koenig's eyes quickly fixed on the bright orange envelope seemingly glowing among the dozen or so white ones piled on his kitchen countertop in Cape Coral, Fla., home.
“I walked in and I looked at it and I turned to my wife and I said, ‘Who would go to Stillwater, Oklahoma? That's a long way,'” Koenig said of the football recruiting letter intended for his son.
“I ate those words, didn't I?”
Over and over, although the aftertaste has proved quite pleasant.
With his youngest son Daniel expected to start at right tackle in Saturday's season opener against Savannah State, Bob Koenig and his wife Cindy will have now provided the Cowboys with three offensive line starters dating back to the Bob Simmons era.
It started with Doug, the recipient of that first orange-colored correspondence, recruited then by Rob Ryan on Simmons' staff. Then came David, a four-year letterman who finished at OSU in 2007.
And now it's Daniel, believed by many to be the best of the Koenig boys, a sophomore who contributed a year ago and now projects as a long-term fixture along the Cowboys line.
“I had no idea what I was starting, absolutely not,” said Doug, who now works with David in Tampa at Ferguson Waterworks, a supplier of plumbing and building products to contractors.
Dad clearly didn't know, based on his initial reaction. Yet he and Cindy kept entrusting their sons to OSU, one after the other, connecting with a university and a football team some 1,400 miles from home on the southwest coast of Florida.
“I've used all my money and all my vacation going to Stillwater, for a long time,” Bob said. “And we've met a lot of good people and we enjoy it immensely when we're there.
“It's a good place to take some young boys and turn them into men. And the school has done a very good job with that.”
Doug scouted out Stillwater first, making an official visit to campus in 1999 and not knowing exactly what he'd find.
He was ranked as a top-80 prospect in talent-rich Florida and had interest from Miami, Central Florida, South Florida, Auburn, Mississippi and Tulane.
“I went there with an open mind,” he said. “Being from Florida, I knew it was going to be different. It was a lot better than I thought it was going to be.
“My first reaction was how overwhelmingly nice the people were.”
That impression has never changed. Doug embraced his time at OSU, met his wife – former Cowgirls tennis player Erin Pauchnik – at OSU and made many more lasting relationships at OSU.
“There's so much more to offer there than just going to play football,” Doug said. “The Midwest values are exceptional compared to other parts of the country. The people there and the guidance you get, it's more exceptional than any of the other places I've ever been, and not just in terms of the school, but the type of people who are there.”