Eight years. A lot has changed in the past eight years.
Travis Ford’s Oklahoma State career spans conference realignment; he’s the third-longest tenured coach in the Big 12 besides Kansas’ Bill Self and Baylor’s Scott Drew. Texas Tech has gone through four coaches and Iowa State is on its third since Ford’s hiring. Out of original Big 12 members remaining in the conference, only the Red Raiders have a worse overall record than the Cowboys under Ford. Even so, only Kansas and Texas have more NCAA Tournament berths than Ford’s OSU teams in that span.
2008-09 – (23-12, 9-7)
Ford inherits an experienced team including upperclassmen Byron Eaton, Terrel Harris and Obi Muonelo. Sophomore center Ibrahima Thomas quit after seven games leaving the Cowboys playing small ball with 6-foot-6 Marshall Moses as the primary post player. OSU beat Iowa State and No. 6 Oklahoma in the Big 12 Tournament before losing in the semifinals to No. 14 Missouri. An 8-seed in the NCAA Tourney, the Cowboys beat 9-seed Tennessee in the first round before falling to one-seed Pitt in the second round. The Tennessee win was Ford’s only victory in the Big Dance.
2009-10 – (22-11, 9-7)
Ford hauls in a good recruiting class over the offseason including ESPN100 point guard Ray Penn and forward Roger Franklin, centers Torin Walker and Jarred Shaw and combo guards Reger Dowell and Fred Gulley. In part due to a successful first season and the recruiting class, Ford is offered a lucrative contract extension that would last until 2019. The Cowboys beat OU in the first round and then lost in the Big 12 quarterfinals to Kansas State. Junior James Anderson averaged 22.3 points per game and was named Big 12 Player of the Year and consensus All-American. After receiving a 7-seed in the NCAA Tournament, OSU lost a close one to 10-seed Georgia Tech in the first round. Anderson announced his decision to go pro and forgo his senior year. Ford lost centers Teeng Akol (mid-year) and Torin Walker (after the season) to transfer.
2010-11 – (20-14, 6-10)
Again, Ford signs several promising recruits: ESPN100 forward Michael Cobbins, Louisiana products Markel Brown and Brian Williams and Juco transfers Jean-Paul Olukemi and Darrell Williams. The Cowboys also unveiled a jaw-dropping $4 million locker room and showed it off MTV Cribs style. OSU is led by senior Marshall Moses (14.1 ppg) and junior Keiton Page (13.2 ppg) with Olukemi and Darrell Williams making an immediate impact as well. Williams was suspended in February after allegations of sexual assault and would never play again in a Cowboy uniform. They would beat Nebraska in the first round of the conference tournament and then lose to No. 2 Kansas in the quarters 63-62. Not selected for the NCAA Tourney, Ford and Co. beat Harvard in the first round of the NIT and then lost to Klay Thompson’s Washington State Cougars in the second round. In addition to losing Darrell Williams, former four-stars Roger Franklin and Ray Penn decided to transfer, as did center Jarred Shaw.
2011-12 – (15-18, 7-11)
Ford outdoes himself by bringing in the highest-rated recruit in Oklahoma State history - five star forward Le’Bryan Nash. Senior Keiton Page led the team in scoring with 17.1 points per game and Nash averaged 13.3 in an up-and-down debut. The problems began when point guards Fred Gulley and Reger Dowell both left the program a few weeks into the season leaving the Cowboys with freshman Cezar Guerrero as their only point guard. Then OSU took a blow when athletic swingman J.P. Olukemi was injured and shelved for the season after 13 games. The Cowboys would beat Texas Tech in the first round of the conference tournament before bowing out at the hands of fifth-ranked Missouri. At 15-18, OSU did not participate in a postseason tourney.
2012-13 – (24-9, 13-5)
After finishing the prior season with Markel Brown as the most effective point guard, OSU lost another when California-native Cezar Guerrero asked to transfer to be closer to his ailing mother before the season began. No matter, Cowboy fans were in for a treat when Ford brought in another five-star recruit in Flower Mound’s Marcus Smart. For all Nash’s positive qualities, Smart was everything Nash wasn’t. Gritty and relentlessly tenacious on both sides of the ball. Smart’s presence at point guard really allowed Markel Brown to flourish off the ball and Nash to become a much more efficient scorer. Back for his redshirt senior season, J.P. Olukemi played in just two games before another devastating injury ended his career. The Cowboys again won their first contest in the Big 12 tournament before losing in the semis to No. 12 Kansas State. Smart was named Big 12 Player of the Year and was a consensus All-American but the fifth-seeded Cowboys were upset in the first round of the NCAA Tournament by 12-seed Oregon. OSU’s ‘Big 3’ of Smart, Nash and Brown held a joint press conference in the Student Union to announce they were all returning for another run at the title.
2013-14 – (21-13, 8-10)
The most anticipated season in nearly a decade got off to a bang when Smart put on a show in front of Kevin Durant and Thunder coach Scott Brooks scoring 39 points as the seventh-ranked Cowboys trounced No. 11 Memphis 101-80. Ford brought in local four-star product Stevie Clark to be Smart’s understudy at point guard but that project didn’t last long as Clark was dismissed following a pair of arrests. Athletic forward Michael Cobbins played in 13 games before another injury sidelined him for the season. Then came a seven-game losing streak in conference play, during which Smart was ejected and suspended for an altercation with a Texas Tech fan in Lubbock. The Cowboys rebounded by winning four out of their last five games including a win against No. 5 Kansas, again attended by Thunder royalty Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and Scott Brooks. The Jayhawks got revenge in the Big 12 tournament winning 77-70 in overtime. OSU got a 9-seed in the NCAA Tournament but lost to 8-seed Gonzaga in the first round. Smart and Brown were drafted but Nash decided to return for his senior season. Forwards Kamari Murphy and Brian Williams transferred out.
2014-15 – (18-14, 8-10)
For the sixth time in six years, a Ford-recruited center transferred when Gary Gaskins left in August. Ford brought back former Sutton assistant James Dickey and added LSU point guard transfer Anthony Hickey to replace Smart. Nash had a career year and finished second in the Big 12 in scoring at 17.2 per game while junior Phil Forte upped his scoring average to 15.0 but regressed in efficiency without Smart. The Cowboys went one-and-done in the Big 12 Tourney losing to No. 15 Oklahoma and snuck into the Big Dance as a 9-seed where they lost to 8-seed Oregon in the first round.
2015-16 – (12-20, 3-15)
Ford proved his recruiting prowess again by bringing in another high-profile recruit, Jawun Evans. Pairing Evans with Forte, the Cowboys’ backcourt looked impressive while their frontcourt was again underwhelming. Just three games in, Forte injured his arm and OSU lost its leading scorer. Evans played timid at first but as the season progressed he became more and more aggressive. He dropped 42 on second-ranked OU in a near-upset and helped the Pokes smash No. 3 Kansas two games later. Then came Evans’ injury and he missed the latter half of conference play. The Cowboys won just once in their final 10 games and finished with their worst record in 30 years. This season also marked the first time in Big 12 history that OSU has missed the quarterfinals of the conference tournament.
Since OSU hired Travis Ford:
Kansas: 237-50 (115-23 Big 12)
Baylor: 194-90 (74-64)
Kansas State: 174-95 (77-61)
Texas: 175-98 (77-61)
Iowa State: 166-100 (67-71)
Oklahoma: 163-97 (74-64)
Oklahoma State: 155-110 (63-75)
Texas Tech: 111-145 (34-104)