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OSU's Travis Ford coaches through his burdens

OSU BASKETBALL — With a thin roster and a long-term contract hanging over his head, Ford is proving that running the Cowboy program is not an easy job.
by Berry Tramel Published: February 25, 2012

Of course, that was before the hodgepodge lineups that have marked OSU hoops the last two months, including Saturday, when Philip Jurick played 26 minutes, Cezar Guerrero 18 and Marek Soucek 14.

“One of the craziest seasons I've ever been a part of, as far as not having the same team every night,” said redshirt freshman Brian Williams. “We just try to make the most of the five we put on the court at one time.”

Ford coaches a thin roster. He does not walk thin ice. That 10-year contract is such a hot-button issue because it indeed protects the coach. Ford has superb security; OSU couldn't prudently fire him, even if it wanted to. Too much of a financial hit.

And the truth is, two years below the institutional standard, which at OSU is the NCAA Tournament, is not firing grounds. Maybe three years, but not two.

There is plenty of reason for hope in OSU's future. All these young players. Markel Brown, Nash (if he doesn't bolt for the NBA), Michael Cobbins, Williams. Lauded recruits coming in.

“We've done a lot of laying the foundation,” Ford said.

Ford says his family — including children 12, 10 and almost 8 — loves Stillwater. “The fans have gotten to know me outside basketball,” he said, though some claim Ford hasn't ingratiated himself into the community, a charge that seemed to lose oomph when Ford embraced the women's basketball team in the wake of the Kurt Budke tragedy.

“I enjoy living here, enjoy coaching here. I love being here. Love my players.”

Can't dispute that, if you ever hear Ford talk about Keiton Page.

“Every job is demanding,” Ford said. “There's so many things that go with it. I was telling the team the other day, coaching is so rewarding. I don't know if fun's the right word. It's very rewarding.”

Days like Saturday make it even more so. Seasons like this, not so much.

Berry Tramel: Berry can be reached at (405) 760-8080 or at btramel@opubco.com. He can be heard Monday through Friday from 4:40-5:20 p.m. on The Sports Animal radio network, including AM-640 and FM-98.1. You can also view his personality page at newsok.com/berrytramel.

by Berry Tramel
Columnist
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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