STILLWATER – In the span of one August to the next, Jamie Blatnick has gone from leading the news – in a bad way – to a prominent role in leading the Cowboys.
Good thing Blatnick never cracked last summer, with Oklahoma State strength and conditioning coach Rob Glass testing and stressing him severely on orders from coach Mike Gundy; all the result of the aftermath of a barroom scuffle that saw Blatnick accused of striking former teammate Steve Denning in the face with a beer bottle and resulting in a deferred sentence for pleading guilty to misdemeanor assault and battery.
Only Blatnick's history of exemplary behavior spared him from being shown the exit by Gundy.
“He had the terrible incident a year ago that just really scarred him,” Gundy said. “Before that, he hadn't really had any issues. None.
“He's a 3-something (grade point) student. Going to graduate on time. We just hadn't had anything happen with him. And that happens and it becomes very public. It was just a brutal incident, for the most part.”
After his day in court, Blatnick's place on the team came down to a jury of one: Gundy.
And it came with conditions, starting with a rugged regimen of discipline, requiring Blatnick to trudge to the top of the virtual Empire State Building, via StairMaster daily.
Five-hundred floors per practice. At 14 steps per floor. Roughly the equivalent of five trips to the top of New York City's famous 102-story landmark.
Always one way… up. Every day.
That's what Blatnick did, in the heat on the sideline, while the rest of the Cowboys practiced within full. He also sat suspended from the team's season opener against Washington State.
Bad medicine. For a bad act.
“And what he's done is he's accepted all his punishments and said, ‘Yes, sir.' And we made it hard on him,” Gundy said. “It was really hard. Never said a word. Never balked.
“He's been under certain restrictions that other kids haven't been under. And he never teetered or got close to breaking any of them.”
Now a starter at defensive end, the senior from Celina, Texas, was only recently released by Gundy to talk to the media. Blatnick discussed, hesitantly, having nearly allowed that one ugly incident to wreck his football career, his good name and possibly his life.