I'm sitting in a hotel room in Cushing, Oklahoma, about a half an hour away from Oklahoma State University. Before I began typing this, I let out a sigh and ran my hand through my hair, not quite sure of what to say.
I made the trip to Stillwater with my roommate (a lurker) and the wonderful Matthew Tennant, a new friend I'm glad to have spent time with. On Friday, we made our signs, packed our bags, and began the trek. The drive was something awful. We got caught in rush hour traffic in Fort Worth and the roads were icy and conditions miserable for the rest of the drive. At one point, we ran into road construction in rural Oklahoma and spent twenty minutes driving along a
sketchy dirt road highway of death straight out of a horror movie. It was, in effect, the quintessential college road trip. The following anecdotes are the good, the bad, and the ugly aspects of my time in Stillwater:
I got the Our Daily Bears sign on GameDay, and from what I understood it got a decent amount of air time. This makes C-Rex happy.
The Oklahoma State alumni base was incredibly welcoming. Everyone over age thirty we encountered was friendly, courteous, and generous with their words and their foodstuffs. I had a ten minute conversation with a man of about forty about the restoration of the campus since T. Boone declared himself sugar-daddy-in-chief, and we all shared in the delight of watching the Money Badger be ground into oblivion by LSU.
Oklahoma State is a quality institution. Their facilities are top-notch, and while the beauty of their campus cannot compare to Baylor or many other schools, it is extremely well-organized, navigable, and polished. I'd like to see it on a regular class day in the spring. We spent some time in the student union, and enjoyed every minute of it. Props to Okie Lite alums and administration for being excellent and receptive hosts.
You all saw it on TV. However, the atmosphere of Boone Pickens Stadium is overhyped in a big way. The crowd was flat for most of the game, and only really got hyped up when OSU scored. The stadium is both larger and of a more acoustically potent design than Floyd Casey, but BPS rarely compared in terms of crowd noise.
The paddle people are a scam. The pure football fan in me wanted to be impressed by the tradition we hear about so much, but they were an afterthought. Going in, I assumed the paddles would encircle the entire stadium. They barely covered a quarter of the west end zone and were less disruptive than a single cowbell. I was slightly saddened by this. The paddles are an overhyped gimmick to make Stillwater look scary in the media. The real danger lies in the proximity of the stands to the sideline. Not having any room to breathe could seriously throw off a team's ability to make adjustments on the fly.
I saw Pistol Pete up close, and it was really, really creepy. Oklahoma State should have a real cowboy. He would rival the Mountaineer in popularity. That mascot face and that giant orange cowboy hat are just ridiculous.
I mentioned that the OSU alums were excellent. The students we came in contact with were not. I had hoped the nastiness we experienced on the internet this week would be an anomaly. My time at the GameDay set shattered those hopes. The students I came into contact with were almost invariably vulgar, snarky, aggressive, and confrontational without any provocation. More than once my arms were pulled down and students actively tried to destroy my sign (these attempts were foiled by threats to call the campus police by GameDay crew). I won't go into detail about the things that were said. Your imaginations can compensate for my ambiguity, but it transcended ribbing and taunting. The conduct of these students was downright appalling, and an embarrassment to their school. Despite all the grace of the alumni, my opinion of Oklahoma State has been tarnished. At one point, the guy directly behind me graphically described how he was going to force himself on a nearby Baylor girl, and my one regret from the weekend is not turning around and rearranging his face (probably for the best, since I like not having a criminal record). The student population in other areas of campus and at the game was similar. Civil students were actually anomalies. I know there are bad eggs at every school, but I can't picture the Baylor student body being appalling enough for visitors to form and eventually confirm a generalization.
As terrible as witnessing Baylor's first and hopefully only loss of the season in person was, I will look back on this weekend in the coming years with no regrets. However, I wouldn't protest if I never set foot in Stillwater, Oklahoma again. The best of luck to OSU; they're a talented team that played (I believe) far above their potential and beat a talented, although depleted Baylor squad. Granted, I hope they somehow get crushed in Bedlam.
...It really sucks to be TCU right now.
To anyone reading this post, this is titled the good, the bad, and the ugly of my time in Stillwater. The "ugly" is just that: the extremely unimpressive and unflattering aspects of the trip that left a bad taste in my mouth. The good is given similar attention and was just as prominent in my experience. The rest is my perspective as a purist football fan who has seen games ranging from junior college to sold-out Death Valleys and Neylands. Nothing here is worth getting upset about.