Oklahoma State fans have 56 NCAA national championships to celebrate, the fourth most of any school in NCAA Division I, but the fans of the Cowboys have always longed for a national championship in football. The current football program is as strong as it has been in close to 70 years, and has shown it has a chance to compete at that level with a close call in 2011, a near win over defending college football national champion Florida State in 2014, and a 10-win start to the 2015 season.
However, now the American Football Coaches Association has gone back in time and delivered Oklahoma State its first college football national championship to the school's only unbeaten team in the 1945 Oklahoma A&M Aggies. It was a team that finished 9-0 including the Sugar Bowl win over St. Mary's of California.
The stars of the team included the late Bob Fenimore, recently deceased Neill Armstrong, and J.C Colhouer. The coach was Jim Lookabaugh.
Below is the release of the AFCA on bestowing Oklahoma State the title:
Oklahoma State has been retroactively named as football national champions of 1945 by the American Football Coaches Association, it was announced today.
At the request of multiple schools, the AFCA established a Blue Ribbon Commission of coaches to retroactively select Coaches’ Trophy winners from 1922 (when the AFCA was founded) up to 1949 (the year before the Coaches’ Poll was first published). That panel of coaches took information submitted by schools who felt they were worthy of consideration and used that data in the research and selection process
“After gathering all the pertinent information and doing our due diligence, it is the pleasure of our Blue Ribbon Commission of coaches to officially recognize Oklahoma State’s 1945 championship season with the AFCA Coaches’ Trophy,” said AFCA executive director Todd Berry.
The Oklahoma State squad of 1945 (then-referred to as Oklahoma A&M) had an average margin of victory of 23.2 points and still hold numerous school records, including fewest points allowed, lowest average points allowed, fewest first downs allowed, fewest rushing yards allowed and fewest yards allowed per game. The 1945 squad also ranks in the top 10 in several more offensive and defensive categories, all of which is remarkable considering that season was played 70 years ago.
Coached by Jim Lookabaugh, the 1945 Oklahoma A&M roster included seven veterans of World War II. Bob Fenimore was a consensus All-American who led the nation in both rushing and total offense and also ranked in the top 15 nationally in rushing yards, passing yards, scoring and punting. Teammate Neill Armstrong also earned All-America status that year by the Associated Press. In addition to Fenimore and Armstrong, J.C. Colhouer earned All-Missouri Valley Conference recognition.
The Aggies capped their championship season with a resounding 33-13 win over St. Mary’s in the Sugar Bowl.
“We may have been the best team in the country that year,” Armstrong said in December of 2015. “We had a couple of All-Americans and a group of veterans who kept us in check. In practice, we scrimmaged every day. As hard as those scrimmages were, it’s a wonder that we had anything left for the games, but those scrimmages toughened us and made us better. We had a lot of older guys who had fought in the war and understood that you don’t win anything unless you do it as a team.”
By virtue of this announcement from the AFCA, Oklahoma State now becomes first school to be recognized as national champions by a national organization or body in both football and men’s basketball in the same academic year. Coach Henry Iba’s hoops squad won the second of its back-to-back NCAA titles that same season.
Including this newly-awarded title from the AFCA, Oklahoma State’s athletic department now boasts team national championships in seven different sports – wrestling (34 national titles), men’s golf (10 national titles), men’s cross country (four national titles), men’s basketball (two national titles), football, baseball and equestrian (one national title apiece). OSU’s 56 team national championships rank as the fourth-most among all Division I schools, trailing only UCLA, USC and Stanford.