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Slavin’s 5 Predictions for 2018: Cowgirls in Sweet 16, 5-Star Recruit, and New DC

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2017 was a fun year for me, getting the opportunity to switch to Pistols Firing Blog. I never could have seen that coming. Just like I never could have predicted a 10-3 football season, Brad Underwood bolting, or the baseball team being bad but winning the Big 12 tournament.

Now I get to do my first predictions for the year.

Let’s hope these don’t go as badly as I fear.

1. Oklahoma State Makes the Sweet Sixteen

No not the men, the women. If you haven’t been paying attention, they’re really good.

The Cowgirls are 12-3 with all three losses coming to top-10 ranked teams and two of those coming on the road. They also beat a UCLA team currently ranked in the top 15.

Most importantly, OSU has the best player in the Big 12 in Loryn Goodwin.

She’s the league’s top scorer at 22.4 ppg, and top thief with 3.93 steals per game. Plus, she’s fourth in the league in rebounds at 5.4 a game. Oh did I mention she’s top-10 nationally in those first two stats? She is.

That’s not all. Throw in freshman Braxtin Miller, who has earned the league’s Freshman of the Week honor twice this season, and the league’s best rebounder in Kaylee Jensen.

Making the Sweet Sixteen would be a big deal for the Cowgirls. They’ve only made it out of the first weekend three times in program history; 1991, 2008, and 2014.

At this point, as talented as this team is, it would almost be a disappointment if they didn’t. But the women’s tournament is harder than the men’s. This isn’t a hot take. Games are played at top-ranked teams home courts through the elite eight. But OSU is good enough to get a home court advantage (that is if they get the credit they deserve).

This team is really good. If you like basketball, go enjoy them, and enjoy what could be the best player to ever come through Oklahoma State.

2. Mike Holder Retires

I’ve gone back and forth on this a lot, especially lately, but Holder deserves a lot of credit for what he’s done at Oklahoma State.

We can lament his handling of the basketball program (though I’m liking the Boynton hire more and more) and say he’s never had the best relationship with Gundy (and it’s not crazy to believe that Chad Weiberg is already handling most of the interaction with Gundy now) but OSU’s athletic program has never looked better and brighter. Especially in all the non money-making sports.

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He also did his primary job and raised money. Holder is smart and connected, and that’s why he earned the AD position in 2005. He did his job, netting the real oil baron T. Boone Pickens, as well as the funds necessary to pay for Oklahoma State’s impressive new athletic facilities. I for one am pumped to catch a match in the new women’s soccer stadium.

But I don’t think Deputy Director of Athletics Weiberg was brought in to wait around for two to three years. Seriously, rumors are he’s already played a big role in keeping Gundy happy.

Holder’s dream project, the Athletic Park, is nearing completion. The only big thing left is to finalize the funding for a new baseball stadium. I have a feeling that’s closer to happening than not. And it’s probably the last domino to fall.

I’d be surprised if Holder was still the Athletic Director by the start of the 2018 football season.

3. Mike Gundy Gets A Commitment From a 5-Star*

This was supposed to be related to Mike Boynton recruiting, but Boone beat me to it. Then I was going to predict that Justice Hill would go pro after next season, but Porter beat me. So… I’ll go in a similar direction.

OSU has never landed a five-star commit under Gundy. Heck, I’m pretty sure I could count all the 4-star signees on two hands.

But there’s just something about this year. It felt like OSU was in play for a lot more top recruits this year than normal, and I don’t mean in the top 10. I mean in the final two or three teams.

They got some solid 4-stars in the 2017 class, and have already started 2018 strong with a 4-star tight end commit. And Grayson Boomer has been active on social media working to recruit other top players to the team.

If it happens, it’s an offensive player. A wide receiver, running back, or offensive lineman. Yes, it’s a long shot, but I feel like this is the year it finally happens.

*I said commitment, not that he signs one. I’m not insane enough to think OSU gets a 5-star to commit and then NOT watch him decommit two days before signing day and end up with Texas A&M or USC.

4. Five Cowboy names called in NFL Draft

Speaking of talent, five Cowboys will hear their names called by the end of the NFL Draft this April. There are the obvious in Mason Rudolph, James Washington, and Marcell Ateman. But I think we see a couple other names called, most likely Zachary Crabtree and DeQuinton Osbourne.

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They won’t go early, but I think both have the talent to be late round picks. The NFL is desperate for talent on the offensive line (though that has more to do with practice rules than actual talent) and Crabtree was one of the best linemen in the Big 12 this year. Osbourne was an All-Big 12 Second Team DT, has a great first step, and led OSU in both TFLs and sacks.

Again, neither will go early, but I wouldn’t be shocked to see either names called before the weekend is over.

5. Brian VanGorder Will be the new DC

The rumors are already circulating, but I have my own reasons for believing that Brian VanGorder will be OSU’s next defensive coordinator

For one thing, I always thought he was an odd person to bring in as a defensive analyst. Not because he’s not a good defensive coach, he is. He had one bad year in Notre Dame and was sacrificed to save Brian Kelly. No, it’s because he had zero connection to Oklahoma State.

At first I figured he’d hang for a year, then get another job elsewhere. Then I thought he might get the “10th coaching position” on the defense.

Now?  I think his time in Stillwater was always intended as a tryout. Now we know what for.

It just makes too much sense.