Two Opinions For The Price Of One

Oklahoma State basketball and Ole Miss football are two hot topics.

Today on the radio show that I share with the listeners in Stillwater on Triple Play Sports Radio, I spent nearly one hour on one topic – the Ole Miss additional allegations, the absolute cheating by the Rebels, their head coach Hugh Freeze, and the football staff; and the silly video that the Ole Miss athletic department put out on YouTube defending themselves on the two major counts of "failure of the head coach to monitor his staff and promote an atmosphere of compliance" and "lack of institutional control on the part of the university."

The seven new charges that range from "cash payments arranged by a staff member going from two boosters to a recruit that totaled $13,000-$15,600" to a "booster providing free food and drinks to a recruit at the booster restaurant totaling between $200 and $600."

There were hunting rights, lodging, transportation, merchandise, improper contact, and a staff member lying to school and NCAA investigators. It runs the gamut of illegal activities, reading like an "old school" like at SMU or (this really hurts) circa 1987-88 at Oklahoma State University. None of the new allegations have anything to do with the gas mask dope smoking and hand out offensive tackle that played for the Rebels then and was involved in plenty of the earlier allegations in Laremy Tunsil. Now, there's a beaut for you in Tunsil.

I have no sympathy or reason to encourage the NCAA Committee on Infractions to exercise any kind of grace to Ole Miss. I know that Oklahoma State fans were already soured after end of the regular season losses to Baylor and Oklahoma, but going to New Orleans and being back in the Sugar Bowl was special as the school returned for the first time since Bob Fenimore and Neill Armstrong and the 1945 season.

To be beaten by a team that was getting paid, that cheated in recruiting to the point that they went from middle of the pack in the SEC to one of the top recruiting schools in the nation, and then for their coach to repeatedly deny it on ESPN on signing day coverage and look straight into the camera and imply they were outworking other schools really makes me bad. 

I know I should be more upset at Baylor. What they were doing were actually violating the rights of innocent women and then trying to cover up the crimes. However, I really feel that Oklahoma State, the players, the coaches and the fans that paid good money to see their team play in what was supposed to be a fair game were cheated. I want to see Ole Miss kicked hard in the gut. I want to see their football program brought down to barely being able to field a team. 

I've seen that kind of penalty before with my own two eyes in Stillwater, so did Mike Gundy right after his playing days as he launched his coaching career working on Pat Jones' staff. He saw that his mentor and his college head coach couldn't pull the program back up out of that probation. He saw how hopeless it became and that at Oklahoma State cheating may get you up but it will also bring the program down to depths it can't recover from.

To this day, athletic director Mike Holder may have his disagreements with Mike Gundy but he absolutely knows Gundy won't break NCAA rules. Gundy speaks with each member of his staff and preaches staying within the rules or they won't be working there. He knows Oklahoma State in football is blue collar and not blue blood, meaning the program can't recover from penalties like Ole Miss needs to get. 

I'm cheering for the NCAA on this one, that they get it right and punish Ole Miss as hard as they can possibly be punished short of the death penalty.

Now, my other main topic on radio today is good news. Oklahoma State defeated Kansas State in hoops on Wednesday night 80-68. They did it with a whopping two points from Phil Forte, Jawun Evans scored only one basket the first half and was 4-of-16 from the field, the team was just 4-of-16 from 3-point range, Jeffrey Carroll was in foul trouble, Mitch Solomon only played 12 minutes and had three points. Had you told me that on Wednesday afternoon, I would have said that the Pokes had a rough night in the "Octagon of Doom." 

They didn't, as Davon Dillard came in with OSU down 14 points in the first half and contributed all nine of his points in the first half, Leyton Hammonds had 18 points and 10 rebounds for a double-double. In the second half, Evans had the bulk of his nine assists and was 11-of-12 from the free-throw line for 21 points. Brandon Averette gave great play off the bench with 13 points on 6-of-6 from the field.

Brad Underwood has coached this team into having layers, like a great dessert. If you don't like one layer then work your way down to the next. You will find what you want, chocolate, vanilla, Italian creme, strawberry, whatever at some point. The Cowboys work their way through the layers, find something that works and go with it.

Wednesday night it was speeding up the pace, looking to get down and score before Kansas State could set up a half-court defense. By the way, speaking of defense, the Cowboys may have played their best as they held K-State to 37 percent shooting from the field. I do think K-State had something to do with it too.

Either way, this stretch since the 0-6 star in Big 12 is truly something special. The Cowboys are now 8-7 in the conference, 19-9 overall, and the last home game with Kansas is sold out and Saturday with Texas Tech is closing in  on a sellout. They have won nine of their last 10 games, and five Big 12 road games in a row.

I asked Underwood today where this team and the turnaround rank in accomplishments in his coaching career, either as an assistant or a head coach, whether it is player development or team development. I asked him where it ranks and I told him not to answer until the season is over. He told me the answer would come in June.

"It will take me that long to process all that has gone on this season," said the head coach.

Fair enough, I can't wait for the answer and to see how the rest of the season goes and how it ends.

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