However, what many fans seem to forget or forgo are the similarities in success that OSU coach Les Miles shares with his predecessor, Bob Simmons. The similarities, while not completely tell-tale of the future, do provide a reality check to those who may believe that the Pokes have nowhere to go but up.
> In only his third year as the Pokes head honcho, Simmons launched his 1997 squad to an 8-4 record and a trip to the Alamo Bowl.
> In 2002, Miles coached the Cowboys to an 8-5 record and a trip to a bowl of their own – the Houston Bowl.
> Simmons enjoyed much success against the Oklahoma Sooners for most of his career, including two-straight victories against the cross-state rivals.
> Miles, albeit against a much more talented Sooner team, has beaten OU two years in a row in his first two years coaching.
> After the '97 season completed, Simmons was named Big 12 Coach of the Year.
> Miles received the same honor after the 2002 season.
> Much like Miles, Simmons received immense praise after his winning season and was credited with the resurrection of a long-dead program. Fans believed Simmons would usher a slough of winning seasons and bowl births into
> Miles and company will begin the 2003 season ranked 25th in the nation, while Simmons' ‘98 crew was also ranked in the 20s of the preseason Top 25.
The ‘98 season proved the start of a
quick downfall for Simmons as his team collapsed to a 5-6 record. The Cowboys
had near misses against quality teams along the way including two heartbreaking
From there Simmons repeated his 5-6 record in 1999, and was fired after a 3-8 2000 season.
While these parallels in no way guarantee failure for Miles and the Cowboys in the upcoming football season, they do bring to light an important point.
Before anyone can become the savior of a dying or dead sports program, they have to prove themselves, not only with one good season, but a series of solid seasons. The 2003 season is crucial for Miles and the program because a losing season could turn the Pokes back down the rocky cliff to the valley of the Big 12.
OU coach Bob Stoops can easily call himself the messiah of Sooner football because he has proven it over several winning seasons, including a national championship.
However, after Simmons' temporary revival of the OSU program and subsequent praise, he imploded with losing seasons proving optimistic fans to be false prophets.
With the lack of a traditionally strong football program, all Simmons needed was another winning season, and the optimism would have held. Four winning seasons in five years should have kept Simmons on the sidelines for possibly a decade.
The same holds true for Miles entering this season. He has the opportunity to put the Cowboys in a bowl two years in a row – a feat that has only been produced three times in school history.
If that dream becomes reality, OSU football will have new recruiting power to go along with obvious coaching talent.
This would give Miles the opportunity for many more winning seasons, legitimizing him as the Cowboys' next great football coach and OSU as a national football power.