Oklahoma State fans flooded the interwebs on Sunday night the way they flooded the Boone Pickens Stadium turf on Saturday night.
When the final numbers had been crunched and the last votes had been counted and the Cowboys had been left out of the BCS national championship game, social media sites and message boards filled with disappointed fans.
“If it's not the BCS title,” one tweeted, “then it's BS!!”
“Boycott the BCS,” another wrote. “Turn the invite down, tell (them) ‘no, thanks, the system is broke' and play in the Cotton.”
No doubt this was a downer.
OSU finished third in the BCS standings, a mere .009 points behind Alabama and a shot at LSU in the national championship game.
So close, yet so far.
But here's the thing, Cowboy fans. What happened Sunday night — a flawed system showing its faults once again — does not diminish what happened Saturday night. Shellacking Oklahoma. Winning the Big 12 outright. Proving that OSU football belongs.
The glory of all of that remains as bright as ever.
Cowboy fan Roger Cox reveled in it as he drove back to Amarillo on Sunday. Or maybe he floated.
He'd been in Stillwater for the game, after all.
“I think there is a huge feeling of vindication,” he said. “A lot of joy but also vindication now that the rest of the world is seeing what Cowboy fans and OSU supporters had started to realize some time back.”
He realized a couple years ago how many strides the football program was taking, and more than a year ago, he made a bet with his law partner that the Cowboys would win the conference title this season. The other attorney, a Texas grad, not only raised the bet to a steak dinner but also sent an office-wide email indicating that Cox had lost his mind.
“To him, that notion was incomprehensible and just plain funny,” Cox said. “He was not laughing with me but at me.”
Now, Cowboy fans are the ones laughing.
The joy from Saturday night spilled over into Sunday.
Brent Colbert graduated from OSU last spring, but he was in the student section for Bedlam. He sat with his buddies, then stormed the field with them.
“I got a half chest bump, half high five from Todd Monken,” he said.
Colbert is no newbie to storming an athletic venue. He was among the first folks on the Gallagher-Iba Arena court when OSU beat top-ranked Kansas in basketball a few years back.
“And this was a hundred times better,” he said. “The mix of young and old (Saturday) night was amazing.”
It's true — there were students and adults alike on the field. I spied a thirty-something running around like a human airplane, arms out wide. I watched a pair of twenty-somethings in the end zone making snow angels, never mind that there was no snow.
It was an amazing scene.
Jill Bowman was a part of it. Said she felt like she'd just won the lottery.
“The O-State family has been dealt some pretty bad cards over the years and even more so these past few months,” said Bowman, a 2010 graduate. “I felt that we needed that win. We are a strong family, but without some reinforcement, even the strongest struggle.”
The Cowboy Nation has endured more than its share of tragedy and turmoil in the past decade. The men's basketball plane crash. The Eddie Sutton saga. The power struggle that followed. The women's basketball plane crash.
Along the way, OSU football was growing into the contender that it's become, with a massive overhaul of facilities and a dramatic improvement of talent, but there were lots of fits and starts along the way. A blown 28-point, first-half lead at Texas in 2004. A Friday night loss at Troy in 2007. An early season home loss to Houston in 2009. A near-miss in Bedlam last season.
A breakthrough always seemed so close, but Cowboy fans, you know there was always that lingering doubt.
Will it really happen?
Saturday night, it did.
Robyn Matthews, an OSU senior, started crying as she watched her fellow students rush the field at the end of the game.
“I've been a fan since I was a baby,” she said, “but it's all different when you're a student. And for my senior year to be the year that OSU beats OU, we win our first Big 12 championship, we're going to a BCS game ... I have never had so much pride in my school.”
Not getting into the national championship game stinks. No two ways around that.
But none of that changes what Cowboy fans experienced the other night. The euphoria. The excitement. The exhilaration. Those feelings will remain forever.
The disappointment of Sunday night did nothing to diminish the delirium of Saturday night.