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The Perfect Season

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September 4, 2009

Most people I know, some I’m friends with, others acquaintances, the majority of people around me don’t really understand what this season means. Sure they get the Top 10 ranking and think it’s cool that Dez and Zac’s names are being breathed in the same proximity as the name of that famous Heisman guy who went to Georgia Tech. They understand that SEC teams don’t come to Stillwater that often and that if we win fewer than 10 games that this season will be a disappointment. They might even fathom the ramifications of this season on our Rivals ranking and Posse membership. In fact I would imagine that many of them even understand the importance of these next 13 (or 14) games in terms of our University as a whole. But what they don’t get is what it will really mean.

There have been a dozen or so Oklahoma State moments that are etched in my brain, indelible beyond repair. They’re just there, they linger, they stir me, they inspire me. I think about them often.

Some are obvious. Like the Durant/Boggan triple overtime epic or the catch TD Bryant made in Norman on 4th down before Rashaun shocked them 16-13 and ruined their Rose Bowl hopes. Country shattering the glass in Seattle before the UCLA game. The 51-49 Tech game or the 49-45 one, whichever you prefer.

Some are more subtle. Like Obi and JamesOn locking arms on the bench both kneeling on the floor in Oklahoma City praying for a Big XII tournament crown to save our miserable season in ‘07. Or Rutherford’s 45 in Lawrence his Senior year on Big Monday. Or the time my dad and I saw an unheralded lefty named Jake Benz take Cal State Fullerton deep for a grand slam that hit Duck Street to extend a magical mid-90s regional at Allie P. Reynolds Stadium.

Some are personal. Like the time I met one of my best friends playing catch at that same field where I grew up watching my favorite players. Or the 3-word phone call I got from another best friend about his Cowboy basketball career. “I made it.”

Some are forgettable. Like Boggans head-butt or XLKs entire career. Or the hit Zac took in the Holiday Bowl in ’08. The last 10 Texas football games. The Alamo Bowl against tOSU.

Some are breathtaking,. Like Prentiss’s fingertip-stretching-near-legendary grab against OU in ’04. Or Joey’s thunderous “Hey Texas we got your Big XII title right here” dunk at home to seal the conference in ’05. Gottlieb’s half-court lob to Desmond against Pepperdine in the ’00 Dance.

Some, like I said are indelible. Lucas’s shot in the Meadowlands to send us South to the Final Four in San Antonio. Rashaun going for 228 against OU in ’02 when we rolled them over in Stillwater. Desmond Mason.

I can’t shake these experiences. They go with me everywhere, they shaped my childhood, my teenage years, my advancement as an adult. Moments like the one at Christmas when I gave my dad the Big XII baseball I threw in front of Frank Anderson to walk on the team tend to change who you are. People don’t always understand things like that. Nor do I expect them to. It’s not arrogance, it’s the way life is.

All that to say, I don’t know what category this season’s moments are going to fall under, but I can’t wait to find out. For all anybody knows we’re going to get our doors blown off by Georgia, upset by Houston, drilled by Texas, and obliterated by OU and headed back to Shreveport for a date with Kentucky or somebody crappy like that. Everybody has us penciled in for the Cotton Bowl at worst…and we haven’t even taken a snap. If I’ve learned one thing from my time as an OSU fan/student/athlete/Posse member it’s that expectations are not to be trusted and should not be place-holders for our faith in the Cowboys.

But I like to dream, and that’s all I’ve been doing since the Ducks hammered us in San Diego last December. I’ve been dreaming about throttling Georgia and running roughshod through the rest of our non-conference schedule until the coveted bye week. I’ve been dreaming about torching A&M in College Station (because we owe them one there) and lighting up Missouri and Baylor. I’ve been dreaming about Texas on Halloween in what would be (unquestionably) the biggest home game in history. I’ve been dreaming about big Ws against ISU and Tech as Dez starts his final lap for the Heisman a tick behind Tebow and Bradford. I’ve been dreaming about a blackout against Colorado as the nation tunes in. And that would leave us with this:

The biggest event in the history of the state of Oklahoma (until Tulsa gets the Olympics anyway). Two 11-0 teams in Norman on Thanksgiving, one goes to the Fiesta Bowl to get beat by Boise. One goes to Dallas to play Kansas for the right to challenge Florida or USC or Ohio St. for all the marbles. That’s what I’m dreaming about.

But that’s a long time from now, and we have 660 minutes worth of memories to make between now and then. And undoubtedly Zac and Dez will be prominently involved in hundreds of those memories. Zac and Dez are, and have been, unfathomably good for this school. The swagger and poise they’ve shown over the last 2 seasons has been utterly intoxicating. I can’t imagine being as good as they are at something so difficult and making it look like they’re playing against little children. They’ve taken our team on runs we’ve never experienced before and made us believe in things we never thought we’d believe in. Their lore will linger for many many years after they leave Stillwater and continue on life’s journey. But for as phenomenal as they’ve been, and as great a story as they’ve woven, they have a chance over the next 13 weeks to own the nation, to make grown men weak in the knees and women weak in the heart. They have a chance this season at Oklahoma State to become legendary.

So I don’t really know what to expect at Boone’s stadium tomorrow.

It’s quiet here in Stillwater right now. Eerily quiet. It’s just another Friday in this tired little Midwestern city. Except that in 24 hours it will almost be time for the most relevant opening football game our team has ever played. The implications of the outcome could be felt for years to come by people who won’t even watch. You can call me obsessed or delusional (and I’m probably both) or crazy or enamored with inadequate, unimportant events. But to me football games are the physical representation of how important Oklahoma State has been to me, how much it’s meant to my life. The ways in which it’s brought me and my dad so close and the best friends I’ve been given. There seems to be an invisible dome over this little town of 50,000 and everything that happens inside it is unquestionably magical. So call me trivial if you want but I won’t care, I’ll be too busy thinking about the years of friendship and brotherhood that have been built and will once again convene and descend upon this place tomorrow and how we will drink all of it in thirstily for who knows when any of it will ever take place again…

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