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Seven Thoughts on Dave Hudson’s 2023 OSU Fan Survey

On optimism, the most important Bedlam and more.



[Devin Wilber/PFB]

Dave Hudson has captured the pulse of the OSU fanbase for a 16th year.

OKC Dave’s OSU Fan Survey results are here just in time for the 2023 football season to begin. You can (and should) check out the full results here, but here are seven takeaways I had from the survey. We’ll start with all things football before looking elsewhere.

1. Cautiously Optimistic

Oklahoma State fans aren’t supremely confident on a game-by-game basis this year, but they are cautiously optimistic entering the 2023 season.

OSU fans project the Cowboys to win 7.8 games this season. That’s the lowest full season (aka not 2020) number since 2014, which is not ideal, but the fanbase is backing the Pokes by at least 51% confidence in 10 games (10!). It’s just that a lot of those games fall in what Dave calls the “cautious optimism” range between 50% and 65%.

It makes sense with how much turnover is involved in college football these days with the transfer portal that it’s sort of hard to take a big stand on a team full of players that haven’t played together before. Like, I think the Alan Bowman-to-De’Zhaun Stribling connection is going to be fruitful, but I have no solid evidence to back that up here on Aug. 29.

That shakes out for what should be an entertaining (or high blood pressure-inducing) season if OSU really is that close in so many games.

2. Yearning for Bedlam Glory

I don’t know whether I’m ready for the emotions I’ll have the week leading up to Bedlam in 2023.

I’ve been in the camp of wanting Bedlam to continue. I get why people are over it and see how getting out of the Sooners’ shadow could be a great thing for Oklahoma State, but I just think it’s sad that kids are going to grow up in these oddly shaped borders without a Bedlam game.

I’m getting off topic.

On the prompt of “If I could pick one game for OSU to win this year, it would be,” 92% of fans voted Bedlam — the highest percentage in 16 years of this survey.

As Dave rightly points out in his notes, some of this probably has to do with Texas not being on the schedule this year to take votes away from OU. Texas had been the second-place team on that prompt for nine seasons. But this Bedlam could mean more than any Bedlam ever played because it could be a long time before the two state schools tango again. If OSU can win here, all the overall record shots could be answered with “Oh yeah, well what about the last time they played?”

3. Texas Tech the Clear Favorite for OSU’s New Rival

Some parts of blossoming rivalries have to happen organically, but there is a lot that points to Texas Tech being the Cowboys’ rival after the Sooners head to the SEC.

There’s all the Xerox U stuff that gets tossed out about one school copying the other, but if there needs to be any more fuel to the potential rivalry fire, how about how OSU fans think the Red Raiders are a little overrated this year? Tech was picked fourth in the Preseason Big 12 Poll, but OSU fans pinned the Red Raiders sixth.

I also like the idea of a friendly K-State rivalry. I discussed the Texas Tech-Oklahoma State-Kansas State spectrum I’m developing in early June. But a K-State rivalry would be a different type of rivalry than a Tech one, which is made more evident by the fact that OSU fans voted Chris Klieman as the No. 1 coach in the Big 12 and the coach OSU fans would most want their son to play for aside from Mike Gundy.

When I started talking new rivals earlier in the summer, the newest wave of conference realignment hadn’t taken place, but I also like the idea of a Colorado rivalry. There is some history there with the Buffaloes’ previous stint in the Big 12, and CU is another Big 12 school alone in its state.

4. OSU Fans Love Brennan Presley and Oklahomans in General

For the third straight year, Brennan Presley is the OSU fanbase’s favorite offensive player. He becomes just the second OSU player to three-peat, joining Mason Rudolph.

With all the roster turnover, it was probably going to be tough for anyone to dethrone Presley going into this season.

Something else that stands out about these lists is how much OSU fans value their Okies.

In the last three seasons, there have been five Oklahomans of a possible nine in the Top 3 of offensive players and eight of a possible nine for defensive players. And on top of that, the highest all-time percentage of fan favorites are both Oklahomans in 2018 Justice Hill (67%) and 2018 Calvin Bundage (61%).

5. O’Neal the Clear Favorite Defender to Join Cowboys’ Ring of Honor

Terry Miller will be the Cowboys fourth induction into the Ring of Honor this year — joining Thurman Thomas, Barry Sanders and Bob Fenimore. So that left Dave with the question of who the first OSU defender to be inducted should be. The overwhelming answer: Leslie O’Neal.

A three-time All-Big Eight player and the 1984 Big Eight Defensive Player of the Year, O’Neal is a shoe-in. It’s a matter of when, not if.

Malcolm Rodriguez being third on this list just sort of shows how bright his star has shined in recent years. I love Rodrigo, you love Rodrigo, everybody loves Rodrigo — but it’s probably going to be a while before he joins the Ring of Honor.

6. Boynton’s Approval Rating Drops

After having a 96% approval rating in 2021, Mike Boynton is down to 40% — his lowest since his first year.

He was dealt a tough hand with all the FBI malarky going on and the sanctions that came from it, but the fact remains the Pokes have made the tournament just once in Boynton’s tenure.

Boynton’s 40% rating is lower than Mike Gundy has ever been (68% in 2020), but Travis Ford still had three years way lower — 16% in 2012, 9% in 2014 and 7% in 2015.

Despite that low approval rating, 66% of pollsters think the Cowboys will make the NCAA Tournament this upcoming season — a relatively low number compared to season’s past but high considering how few and far between tournament appearances have been as of late.

7. Excitement for Women’s Sports

Welcome to the show, Kenny Gajewski.

Gajewski, OSU’s softball coach, was added to the survey for the first time this year, and he instantly dominated things. Gajewski was ranked No. 1 among OSU coaches and administrators at a 4.5 out of five.

His softball team was also ranked atop the list of programs the fanbase is most excited about the future for.

But Jacie Hoyt and the Cowgirl basketball team weren’t far behind there, ranking third behind softball and football. Hoyt also ranked third on the OSU coaches and administrators ranking behind Gajewski and Kayse Shrum.

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