I refuse to go back to 1988 and poor Brent Parker because the Bedlam what-ifs get endless then, and I’m young enough that I’ll miss most of them. So instead I went back to the beginning of the Gundy era and compiled a still-incomplete list of some of the most mind-wandering what-ifs in the last decade and a half of futility (on both sides). Let’s jump right in with a doozy.
What if Bob doesn’t re-punt in 2014? It might be the biggest one on this list for me. Is … are we sure … Mike Gundy is still the coach at Oklahoma State if Bob doesn’t re-punt and Tyreek doesn’t find the house? I mean, I think he is, but that’s at least on the table, right?
He was only a few years into a big contract so it’s not like he was going to get fired, but everything was so sideways at that time (just watch three minutes of his pre-Bedlam presser below) that this is maybe the most mind-shifting alternate universe of them all from the last 15 years worth of alternate universes (speaking of alternate universes, what if a certain East Carolina head coach had come to a different Oklahoma school in 2015 based on whatever happened with Gundy following a rout in this game?). All the what-ifs!
What if Justin Blackmon wasn’t hurt in 2010? No. 81 had eight for 105 that night along with a TD, but he was dragging a bad wheel around Lewis Field that looked more like the object from the OSU turkey leg meme than one of the appendages of probably the most dominant player in the country. It might not have mattered in a 47-41 defeat, but boy would I like to go back and find out.
What if the Desmond Roland TD isn’t called back in 2013? A single play that could have decided a Big 12 title. I thought of this when I saw the banner inside McLane Stadium last week signifying Baylor’s first of two Big 12 titles. OU punted on four of their five first half drives on that freezing day in Stillwater and was only buoyed by a Jalen Saunders punt return TD. It was 10-10 at halftime, but it should have (could have) been bigger than that. And oh yes, we will come back to this game.
What if Zac Robinson connects in 2006? The footage here is incredible, but OSU had a real chance to upend OU in 2006 after Zac Robinson took over at QB. They had the ball on OU’s 25 with five seconds left, trailing by 6. Zac tried to find D’Juan in the back of the end zone and it narrowly got tipped. I was at that game. The entire sequence was incredible, like a movie. (Speaking of incredible, OU going 10-2 with Paul Thompson at the helm was up there).
It didn’t affect any Big 12 championships (OSU was 6-5 at the time and about to give Alabama a bowl game defeat ?), but I do wonder if the trajectory of Gundy in Bedlam games would have been altered at all by getting out of the L column early instead of waiting five more years for it to happen.
What if Baker Mayfield didn’t get an extra year of eligibility? Shouts to former intern Jacob Overton on this one because it’s fantastic. Maybe it wouldn’t have mattered. Maybe Kyler would have put up 598 yards in Stillwater last season as a 3-point dog, and OU still would have won the Big 12 title. Heck, maybe even if OSU had beaten OU in Stillwater, they still would have missed the Big 12 title game because of those Kansas State and TCU losses.
OU, OSU and TCU all would have finished 7-2 and beaten each other and it would have come down to point differential (which is impossible to do because we’re talking about a hypothetical different Bedlam outcome (OSU would have needed to win Bedlam by 9 or more). But it does seem like Baker coming back for another run certainly altered OSU’s reality at least a little bit in Mason Rudolph’s senior season.
What if Justin Gilbert had held onto the pick in 2013? Maybe the biggest one of them all. This play actually did change the course of two schools (Baylor and OSU) and maybe even three (OU went on to beat Alabama in the Sugar Bowl that season). He didn’t hang on, but he could have, and a few inches became the chasm between Mike Gundy having three wins vs. OU and two Big 12 trophies.
What if this was ruled a fumble and OSU would have started 14-0? There were even more what-ifs from last year I could have put on here (Tyron at the pylon, Mason’s end zone pick). I think in 10 years we might think of it as one of the craziest Bedlams given the stakes and the power players involved (maybe the craziest). But for now the question is, “What if taking nine steps with the ball constituted a catch and not an incompletion?”
What if Caleb Lavey hits Blake Bell in 2012? Again, this wasn’t the highest stakes, but on fourth down in regulation, Lavey busted through the line and had Bell dead to rights. He got tripped and unfortunately whiffed. Otherwise Gundy would have more Bedlam wins in Norman (2) than he does in Stillwater (1).