How ‘bout ‘dem Cowboys!
No, not Jimmy Johnson letting that perfectly coifed hair hang down as he enjoyed the locker room spoils of another championship for his Dallas Cowboys win. Not the orange-painted rowdies at Gallagher-Iba after an Eddie Sutton-inspired Cowboy win over their hated rival or Texas. Not the overzealous boosters so obsessed they'd show up early if allowed to watch players getting ankles taped.
No. This time there's a considerable amount of How ‘bout ‘dem Cowboys noise coming from 2005 OSU football fans, many of whom had been in the wait-and-see mode during the first three years of the Mike Gundy era.
Twas the Doubting Thomas mode exactly one year ago. More than a few were evaluating Gundy with the same skepticism Democrats evaluate George W.-maybe that's a stretch. Three games into '04, Gundy's Pokes had stumbled out of the gate going 1-2 and looking you-jee-ell-wye ugly, ugly in that nationally televised loss to Troy.
I'm not one hundred percent sure it's Jimmy Johnson's How ‘bout ‘dem Cowboys time! However, things are going swimmingly...exactly where I'd expected, winning a critical game to open the season at a woebegone Washington State; Beating Houston at home; and breezing through a JV game against woe-be-going-going-gone 1-Double AA Missouri State (OSU's version of OU's season-opening JV scrimmage with 1-AA Chattanooga).
For the record, my preseason prediction had OSU 5-0, beating A/M at home, then dropping from the Top 25 after taking it on the chin at Missouri 4 October.
So at the end of the day, whether you are a How ‘bout ‘dem Cowboys exclamation point (!) fan, or a How ‘bout ‘dem Cowboys question mark (?) fair-weather fan, it clearly gets down to this. Expectations.
Do you grade Gundy's bunch based on records of the past? Should he and his team be evaluated on the apparent upgraded talent, better recruiting and spiffy new stadium? Or do you grade based upon competing year in year out with the Big Boys of the Big 12?
The history books tell us this:
Excluding the 2000's, two winning decades. Three losing decades. Mediocrity in the 70's, great 80's, ugly 90's and 2 games over .500 to begin this century.
These days, using a program's history as the barometer usually results in the coach looking for work. Except for the Baylors, Iowa States and Temples, teams that sell their programs to recruits as "playing for championships" should be graded against their competition that sells its recruits on "playing for championships."
I believe I'm with the majority of fans in saying the bar should be set high. People I trust tell me the team owner sees it the same. Eight wins. Hedging bets on the future is currently not en vogue with T-Boone-and some of his hedge partners in the inner sanctum. With Hedge Funds tumbling, all signs point to an 8-game yield....very attainable.
The planned development of OSU's athletic building programs isn't exclusively dependent upon winning eight games. But you can bet that Boone's Farm wouldn't mind a 9 or 10...or competing for the league title.
Gundy is now 21-19 through three and a thirds innings. My Jethro Bodean math says by the end of the regular season the Gundy Era will stand at 26-23. So fans, "How ‘bout ‘dem Cowboys?! No hedging allowed!
Don't bank on it (as if you would) but here's my stab:
OSU 45 Troy 24
OSU 45 Texas A/M 24
OSU 24 Missouri 48
OU 31 TCU 21
OU 45 Baylor 28
OU-Texas...only prediction is OU favored by eight, which seems to be the number of the hour.