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OSU Wrestling: Could There Be a John Smith Statue?

‘We reserve that for the greatest of greats’



[Devin Wilber/PFB]

Oklahoma State athletic director Chad Weiberg reminded that the university reserves statues on campus for only the greatest of greats. But John Smith is the GOAT after all.

Smith announced on Thursday his retirement as the head coach of Cowboy Wrestling after 33 years. He ended his coaching career as OSU’s leader in dual wins with 490, plus five NCAA titles and 23 conference championships. Smith also has more wins than any wrestler in OSU history with 152. He won two individual NCAA titles as a Cowboy before starting his international career, where he won six straight world championships, including a pair of Olympic gold medals.

Currently, there are five statues on OSU’s campus honoring individuals. Heisman Trophy running back Barry Sanders is the only former athlete with a statue. He didn’t get his statue until 2021, 33 years after his Cowboy career ended, though. Mega donor T. Boone Pickens also has a statue because of his financial contributions to the athletic department. OSU’s football stadium, Boone Pickens Stadium, was also renamed in Pickens’ honor after he helped fund major renovations.

OSU hosted Smith’s retirement news conference on Monday with Smith and Weiberg at the podium. With Smith’s accolades during nearly four decades representing OSU, the question of a statue, asked by O Wrestle’s Seth Duckworth, was obviously prompted. And Weiberg sounded like a John Smith statue on the OSU campus was definitely possible.

“We’ve been pretty judicious with our selection of statues around here,” Weiberg said. “There are some schools that put up statues for all kinds of different things. We reserve that for the greatest of greats. Without committing to anything, I think that [Smith] certainly falls into that category. I’m sure we’ll be talking about that at some point. I’ll have to fight him over it, if we do. And you know how that’s going to turn out.”

A statue in Stillwater wouldn’t be the first monument honoring Smith. His hometown of Del City named its high school gymnasium the “John Smith Fieldhouse” in honor of Smith in 1992. Del City did that when Smith was only 26 after he won his second gold medal at the Barcelona Olympic Games.

“At 26 years old, I come back from the Olympics, and they are naming the high school gymnasium after me,” Smith said. “And I’m thinking, ‘Oh, hell, I can never get in trouble now.’ I worried my whole life with my name on that gymnasium, but it has been an honor to have.”

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