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Oklahoma State’s rapid ascent up the college football ladder

Something’s not adding up between what SI said it wanted to find out and what it actually found.



Photo Attribution: USATSI

Photo Attribution: USATSI

In the precursor to the 5-part investigative series, executive editor Jon Wertheim said this about what was about to come out:

“We wanted to take a comprehensive look at a big-time program, particularly one that made a rapid ascent.

There’s obviously a steady drumbeat of scandal in college sports – improper benefits here; a recruiting violation there – and plenty of rumor and hearsay about the unseemly underbelly. For this piece, we were more about venturing inside the factory and seeing how the sausage is made.”

The following was also said in another piece:

How does a Division I program make such a large leap in such a short time? SI dispatched senior writers George Dohrmann and Thayer Evans to begin searching for the answer.

My problem with that is the “rapid ascent” and “searching for the answer” parts.

Why put them in there? What’s the point of noting that you wanted to try and play “gotcha” with a program on the rise unless that’s your motive? This doesn’t mean that nothing happened but I can’t logically understand why a national publication would come out and say “we were trying to catch people” instead of “here’s a great story.”

I mean, correct me if i’m wrong, but It kind of infers that you weren’t out looking for a great story, you were just looking to take a program down.

This fact is true if Sports Illustrated had chosen Clemson, Boise St., or Stanford. It doesn’t matter that it’s OSU beyond the fact that it’s on this blog.

Also, has this really been a rapid ascent??

Here’s a look at Stanford[1. How about Stanford! Go after them! Just kidding, I know all Stanford students get 4.0s and save kittens in trees in their downtime. ANDREWLUCK4EVER.] and Oklahoma State’s win totals from 2000 (far left) to 2012 (far right):

Screen shot 2013-09-11 at 5.11.00 PM   Screen shot 2013-09-11 at 5.09.06 PM

Sure, Oklahoma State has been better but “rapid ascent” doesn’t much describe it. Stanford had 1 win in 2006, by the way. THAT is what a rapid ascent looks like.

Also notable: 46 teams made BCS bowls before OSU made its first.

My point in all this is not to say that SI should have gone after a Stanford or a Bama (go look at its chart!) or whatever but that I find it a bit silly for SI to say “we wanted to find out what in the heck this school was doing to get so dang great!”

You completely ignore the fact that between 2000 and 2012 Oklahoma State upgraded its facilities from “passable 3A Texas school” to “top five in the nation.”

You basically completely dismiss what Gundy has done with the program (and we’re not even going to get into Dana and Monk!) and imply that “Oklahoma State is only good because these things we’re going to write about happened.”

THEN you tell me a bunch of backups got paid and people did drugs and got passing grades and THAT’S why OSU got good?

Curiously I’ve seen no mention of the walk-on QB or the 3-star WR that led OSU to it’s only two 11+ win seasons in forever. There seems to be a bit of a disconnect from what Sports Illustrated said it was trying to find and what it actually found.

I find the whole thing to be quite illogical.

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