But the second half of the season spiraled out of control as the Cowboys won only five of their last 15 games, including a seven-game losing streak (the program's longest in 42 years) and suspension of point guard Marcus Smart for pushing a fan. OSU lost its first game in the NCAA Tournament for the second year in a row, and the Cowboys are now 1-4 under Ford in the tourney.
Ford said Wednesday that he's aware of the criticism although he doesn't necessary hear or read it.
"Oh, you're aware of it. I don't read anything. I hear about it all. I hear everything," the 44-year-old head coach said. "You know it's out there, not necessarily because I'm hearing it, but things weren't going the way I wanted it to go. If I'm not happy…
"It doesn't affect how I work every day. I've always been very, very driven, and probably overly competitive. You know it's out there. I don't pay attention to it as far as how it affects my work. Do you wish it weren't there? Yeah, you wish it weren't there, because you know what's driving it is wins and losses. You want to win.
"I've been around sports my whole entire life. I get it. It's not like I don't get it."
Ford said that no one is more disappointed or upset when the Cowboys lose than the coaching staff and players. He understands why fans are upset with a 21-13 record and 8-10 finish in the Big 12 (eighth place) after the preseason expectations.
"I get that. We always want to do more. You want to win games. You want to go further in the NCAA Tournament. There is no doubt about that. There is no question. And that's what makes fans great. You want passionate fans," he said.
"With that said, our kids are working hard every single day. They played hard every single game. They fought through a lot of adversity this year to do some good things. We won 21 games after going through a tough stretch. We've gone to the NCAA Tournament four out of six years. Those are good things. We've won a lot of big games. There are some things that are very positive.
"Do we want more? Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. That's the goal. I promise you, I live and breathe it and eat and sleep it. That's my plan. That's what I'm focused on. You always need a couple breaks here and there, I don't care who you are or where it's at. Nothing's guaranteed in this game, I don't care how much talent you've got. You always have the human element.
"We've done a lot of good things here. Do we want more? Absolutely. I understand the negative is going to be brought up more. Do we want to win? Absolutely. I get that end of it. I get it."