Golf Photo Attribution: Zach Gray
These ten moments aren’t necessarily the best, the most riveting, or even the most enjoyable. Hopefully though, they are the ten things we remember most when we look back on 2011 and say “what happened with OSU that year, what meant something to the Oklahoma State program?”
Honorable mention: Bedlam walkoff in Tulsa…Kye Staley’s TD against Baylor…Wrestling gets its 1000th victory…OU and OSU bands playing at halftime of Bedlam…the 3 AM football game in Tulsa…the Kansas basketball game in the Big 12 Tournament…KD plays flag football.
10. Sean Einhaus hitting a 20-footer to extend the Augusta State match
It wasn’t the most talked about or most covered even that happened this year but for those who were there it might have been the gutsiest. There were the Cowboys, on their own turf (literally) tied 2-2 with the defending champs in the semifinals of the NCAA golf tournament. Peter Uihlein had just gotten drilled by Patrick Reed 8-and-7 and Einhaus needed to beat Carter Newman by one in the last two holes to advance to the finals. After they split #17 Einhaus got in a little trouble on #18 and found himself in the bunker but proceeded to chip out to 15 feet. Newman made his birdie and Einhaus would have to slide one in to extend the match with basically every golf fan in Stillwater breathing down his neck from the 18th fairway.
Cullen Carstens, a former OSU golf coach was there and he said this about the moment: “it was a 20 footer downhill left to right, it probably broke about 18 inches. We obviously ended up losing Sean’s match and the semifinal match as well, but the moment when he made that putt in front of those fans was the loudest roar I’ve ever heard on a golf course. When Sean hit the putt everyone was dead silent and they all just erupted when it went in. It just showed how much people in Stillwater love their OSU golf.”
9. The baseball series against Texas
After an incredible 15-inning 1-0 loss in which Chris Marlowe notched 12 strikeouts in 6 innings of relief, OSU came back to win the final two games of the series 3-1 and 10-3. It was the first time OSU had taken a series from Texas since 2008 and just the 6th and 7th losses of the season for #4 Texas. Brad Propst received Big 12 Pitcher of the Week honors for his 7-hit 1-run effort in the Saturday game and OSU would go on to win 10 of its next 13 games.
8. The Masters
OSU sent Hunter Mahan, Rickie Fowler, Bo Van Pelt, and Peter Uihlein to the Masters this year in what has become a glorified annual alumni reunion in the deep south. Only Van Pelt was in it on Sunday (finishing T-8) but it was a blast to see former Cowboys infiltrating golf’s most illustrious major and should only be a precursor for what’s to come over the next decade or so (if somebody gives you anything above 10-1 odds that a former OSU golfer will win the Masters in the next 10 years, empty your checking account). In fact Augusta National was teeming with as many Oklahoma State participants as there were from the countries of Spain, England, and South Korea. I had a blast following those guys around and even got to write about it a little bit for Yahoo.
7. The thriller over Kansas State
It was, in retrospect, a game OSU had to have to win the Big 12 (who would have thought OSU and K-State would play a November tilt for the Big 12 title back in August?). It was also a game that served as the dividing line between BCS bowls and bowls nobody watches for the entire conference. You could even make the argument that Joseph Randle’s game-winning TD was a multi-million dollar score (difference between Cotton Bowl payout + exposure and Fiesta Bowl payout + exposure). As much as the A&M game set the table for the entire year, this game was simply foreshadowing for OSU’s first Big 12 championship. Oh yeah, and that lob to Blackmon over the middle was mighty nice too.
6. Jordan Oliver goes 29-0
One of my friends, a friend that used to wrestle and spends more time at flowwrestling.org than I do at pistolsfiringblog.com and grantland.com combined, said the other day that Oliver might be the most dominant wrestler in Oklahoma State history. 2011 makes it pretty hard to disagree as he took home his first national championship notching 10 wins by fall or technical fall in the first period and 90 (!!!) takedowns in 18 duals. He went Fall | Fall | 10-2 | 5-2 | 8-4 at the NCAAs finishing off Boise State’s #2-ranked Andrew Hochstrasser in the finals. And Oliver hasn’t let off the gas with eight straight victories to start the 2011-2012 season which means he’s 69-4 in his three years in Stillwater. Pretty strong for a 133-pounder.
5. 10 year anniversary of Remember the Ten
It would be but a sobering prelude to the events of November 17th. What was supposed to be a decade-old nightmare that we continued to honor and remember turned into the template we used for the tragedy that struck once again. This year was like the other nine except that we like round numbers so we turn 10-year anniversaries and 100-year dates into something other than what they are. There were so many good things that came from the crash so it’s good when we remember those and people tell their stories. Desmond came back for the game, Eddie and Gottlieb too, they spoke, people cried. It was my favorite part of the entire week-long remembrance: the dudes who helped build GIA into what it is (was?) coming back to thank the people who handed them the bricks, coming back to tell them that they loved them and they missed them and that they’d always be there. OSU in a nutshell if you ask me.
4. Weeden and Blackmon coming back
Without this one about half this list is gone. And the way Weeden did it was awesome too. Yes, January 12, 2011 was a great, great day.
3. The comeback in College Station
In the first 30 minutes at A&M all the hope we had in this season, all the scoffing we did at the 8.5 over/under win total was circling the drain until Brandon Weeden jammed his thumb into the pipe and held on for dear life until the plumber (Blackmon) and the carpenter (Brodrick Brown) could get there to fix things. The plumber did have a massive gaffe that almost led to a burst pipe, but again Weeden was there to rescue him. Okay, enough with the construction metaphors.
This was the biggest win for OSU’s football team in the last five years. Bigger than at Texas last year and bigger than Bedlam this year because OSU was in a hole, a very deep, very SEC-like hole on the road with pretty much everything on the line early in the season and they came out gunning in the second half like their Big 12 lives depended on it (which they kind of did). I think Weeden’s celebration tells you all you need to know about how big this W was.
2. The (other) plane crash
It’s impossible for people who didn’t live through the first one to understand the second one. That’s not a derogatory statement, just a fact about tragedies and mourning and how we all heal. That the crash was intertwined with the only loss for OSU this football season was such a powerful metaphor for the generational ties that bind us all to Stillwater and the university that resides there. It will be impossible in ten years to think of 2011 and not think about Coach Budke and the rest of the OSU family members who lost their lives just as now, ten years after the original crash, it is impossible to think of 2001 and not think of them.
Pretty much just this: