Cowboys As Close As You Can Get At 6-6

The scene was interesting in the Oklahoma State locker room. There was the disappointment of coming so close to another major win. It is a feeling the Oklahoma State players and coaches have dealt with too often this season. There wasn't the gut wrenching despair such as the scenes following losses to Kansas State 31-27, Texas A&M 34-33, or Texas Tech 30-24.

This game wasn't blown like those others, instead the Cowboys ran into a very good Oklahoma team and just didn't do quite enough to win.

There were a few tears and a couple of slams of pads into the lockers, but there was also a feeling that this team had laid it all on the line and just needed another play, another player, another tackle, another reception, or another long run. One other something might have been enough. It was that close.

In the locker room were several recruits including already committed All-American defensive end Richetti Jones wearing an Oklahoma State game jersey No. 99 that he purchased and put his full name on the back of. There was 6-7, 290-pound offensive tackle Mickey Okafor of Houston Westbury, wide receiver/defensive back Ryan Broyles of Norman, and All-American safety Christian Scott of Dallas Skyline. Those recruits were talking with coaches, players like Adarius Bowman, OSU President David Schmidly, and athletic director Mike Holder. The message was clear and the game effectively delivered it -- Cowboy football is close and a player or two can make the difference now.

There was a day and time when the Cowboys needed an army of players, but now this program is close. The close results are part of the story. Then there is the fact that next Saturday in Kansas City two teams -- Oklahoma and Nebraska -- will play for the Big 12 Championship. Oklahoma State hammered one team playing for the Big 12 title, Nebraska, and played the other, Oklahoma, to the wire.

"We don't make excuses," said Cowboy head coach Mike Gundy. "I'm telling you the guys played with great effort and this is the best football team that we've played. There is no question defensively they are one of the best in the country. They are a top 10 defense in my opinion. Our football team played extremely hard. They fought from the start to the finish. I have never been involved with a season that had this many close games. This will build character and it is difficult for them to swallow because they have worked so hard.

"I want to make it clear that I don't accept losing," Gundy continued. "I have to look at things in proportion and understand where we've come, what direction we are going, and who we are. We just came up a little short."

That is the message that the Cowboy coaches will carry with them on the road in recruiting. It is the message the current players will take with them to the bowl game, the upcoming off season, spring football, summer workouts and next season.

"We have just got to get better, and we will," said linebacker Rodrick Johnson, who played on one leg most of the game after suffering a calf injury in the first quarter. "We are a young team and playing in a bowl will help us with the young players and extra practice. We can see ourselves that we are getting better every day. Today we were just a little short of what we needed."

"I tell my guys to keep their heads up," said wide receiver Adarius Bowman. "Now that we're at the end of the season I know it didn't turn out the way we wanted it but we hit a lot of our goals this season in terms of coming back together for next year. We got better as a team. Our players and coaches relationships got so much better. Just as a program OSU got a lot better this year."

Make no mistake, Oklahoma was the better team on Saturday. The Sooners, with a strong running game and a stout defense, deserved to win but the improvement made from last year to this year is impressive. The improvement that can be made from this season to next is exciting.

"We're a very young football team that has done a lot of maturing and I respect them for that," Gundy said leading one to believe that with the players in that locker room and maybe a few of the visitors added to the roster the Cowboys time to go to a Big 12 Championship game may not be that far off.

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