A valuable tool for investigative journalism is persistence to get the full story, and also seeking documentation and proof as to what happened. The Sports Illustrated team of Pulitzer Prize winner George Dohrmann and Thayer Evans seemed to miss out on some of those lessons as the series has lacked a lot of that.
In starting the "Drugs" portion of the series with Bowling they actually began the article with one of the bigger success stories for Gundy at Oklahoma State. They couldn't tell that story because they never spoke with Bowling. All the story reported was that Bowling was back on the team in 2010, a fact they perceived as a potential slam on Gundy and the program.
"I had an idea that it could be in there because I knew they were going to have a story on drugs," said Bowling, who told us he is now retired after playing two seasons in the Canadian Football League. "Did not speak to them at all. Never heard from them."
That gives us a chance here to in the words of the great radio broadcaster Paul Harvey to tell "the rest of the story." Bowling doesn't mind with us telling his story. He just wanted somebody to talk to him.
"I don't even think what they (Sports Illustrated) wrote is their story," said Bowling. "It was something that was in The Daily Oklahoman when it happened and they just copied that and put that as their first paragraph.
"This was about Oklahoma State and what they demanded of me day-to-day in order to get back on the team. I wasn't just let back on the team. They don't know all the steps I had to go through."
Gundy and athletic director Mike Holder allowed Bowling a regimented opportunity to get back on the team after he was stripped of his scholarship. Before Bowling, the process had saved Jeremy Nethon as he even worked in a shoe store between classes and football to pay for his education. Damian Davis, another ex-Cowboy, was not able to handle the prescription to be a Cowboy again.
"I think he knew what kind of person I was before and then going through the whole process, drug testing every week, meeting with Coach Holder, and showing them the grades that they demanded for me to stay in school and have a chance to play again, and everything else," said Bowling. "The fact that he challenged me like that and gave me a chance shows his character."
There was a lot of physical work as well to prove his determination and desire to be back playing football again. When he did earn his way back on the team he was still a walk-on, paying his own way.
Bowling went on to play some pro football in Canada and said he will still work toward the NFL. But he said that process of working his way back changed his life.
"It's everything," said Bowling. "There's no telling where my life would be if I hadn't had the chance to work back. After that happened it woke me up and if caused me not to let my ego and other things in my life help make my decisions. It's all me, not Oklahoma State. The ones who make it wanted it more than others were able to overcome and stay on the team."
This isn't a massive story and it doesn't prove Oklahoma State is always right and does everything perfect. However, what it does prove is Sports Illustrated was out to tell the story of OSU football the way they wanted to and the writers weren't going to let a (feel) good story or something good coming out of something bad get in the way.
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