Spoiler. By definition the word me, “a person or thing that spoils something.” That’s the role that Oklahoma State plays in Big 12 football. That’s the role they’ve always taken. It’s who they are.
The Cowboys are not a program of dominance. They’re not a program of championships (at least without petitioning them). They’re a program of almost. For the last three years they’ve almost reached the pinnacle of the Big 12 Conference, but it was arch-rival Oklahoma who stood in their way. In 2011 the actually won the Big 12 and almost made a their first ever BCS championship game appearance. A Friday night trip to Ames, Iowa ruined that for them, and thus the spoiler got spoiled.
That’s what it is to be Oklahoma State, and that’s what it is to play Oklahoma State. The lows are always lower than the highs but when the highs come around they send the orange and black fanbase into a frenzy.
You only need to go back two weeks ago to the Texas game for a great example of this. Unranked OSU downed the Horns 38-35 at Boone Pickens Stadium and then subsequently rushed the field. That was the high-point of the season, sandwiched between the lows of losses to Kansas State and Baylor. But man, that one moment, was spectacular. Taylor Cornelius was the quarterback fans had been begging him to be and Mike Gundy was a genius again.
That was all gone a week later as a last-second touchdown doomed the Pokes in Waco. Mike Gundy had lost some luster, Taylor Cornelius needed to be benched and, after a one-week hiatus, the program was once again back in shambles.
This is Oklahoma State football. This is who they are and, for the most part, the fans embrace and accept it. With a 119-57 record, Mike Gundy is the winningest coach in program history. He’s 8-4 in bowl games and has a knack for using gimmicks like coffee mugs, wrestling singlets, and mullets to continually provide relevance to the program.
Gundy is four losses away from surpassing Pat Jones as the all-time losingest coach in Oklahoma State football history. That’s just fine though. Fans still love the colorful Jones who was the winningest and losingest coach in program history at the same time. At some point in the next year that distinction will pass on to Gundy as just another reminder that the more things change in Stillwater, the more they stay the same.
It’s as good as it has ever been for Oklahoma State. They’re going to contend for the conference title a handful of times in any given decade and then they’re going to play the role of the spoiler the rest of the time.
That’s just who they are and it’s what they’ve embraced. Don’t believe me? Look back one more time on that Texas upset. As the clock ticked to zeroes fans flooded the field in celebration. Championship programs don’t storm the field, especially against teams they’ve beaten four years in a row, but spoilers do.