“Remember Red, hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies.”
Andy Dufresne, Shawshank Redemption
Andy Dufresne never met college football.
If he had, he would understand that hope dies every year, often before the season’s opening kickoff and usually in the most agonizing fashion possible.
August is upon us and that means college football, like the Sirens beckoning Ulysses, pleads for us to come back in, to open our hearts once again to the lost dreams of seasons past, to yearn for that thing that our beloved program has never achieved, or hasn’t achieved in a long time.
These achievements can be as simple as one game. Beat the hated rival. But most of us can look forward to:
- Maybe a winning record...then a bowl game.
- Maybe national rankings, slip into the top 10.
- Maybe play for a conference chamionship...maybe win.
- Maybe get into the college football playoff conversation.
- Maybe make the college football playoff...and so on.
All Division 1 programs start each season with a shot at the rival and a winning record, unless you’re Kansas, then you’re hopes and dreams revolve around whether or not to redecorate the basement of the Big 12 and who’s going to choose the decor.
If you’re lucky, you root for a program that has goals past rivalry victories and winning records. Conference titles and bowl games are within legitimate reach on a seasonal basis.
As Oklahoma State fans, we are fortunate enough to be living in a time where football success is not defined solely by the occasional upset of the Sooners. Ten win seasons are not abnormal. An “off” season rarely happens and it involves a winning record and a bowl game. We can all remember winning a conference championship! Woo hoo!
We have the luxury of not being fans of “blue blood” programs, like Bama, OU, etc, where expectations have forgotten about the simple pleasures. Titles are the norm, whether conference or national. Beating a rival is still valued, but can be quickly dismissed as long as that blemish doesn’t derail the greater goal.
So here we are, just getting started down the road with all the potholes we can’t see, and live football is still four weeks away.
We’ve managed to already dodge some bullets. No major defections or key players not reporting to fall camp. At this point we wait by the spigot in the media desert for our daily drips and drabs of coach speak about what’s happening at fall camp. Is Taylor Cornelius “Clint Chelf 2.0?” Is Jim Knowles’ defensive scheme the equivalent of a Chinese finger trap? Will Chuba Hubbard talk Lincoln Riley into punting twice? Our collective breath is held each time we are fed the pablum hoping everyone stays healthy. If all goes well, right before kickoff on August 30, 2018, even the most reasonable among us will venture across the line of unreasonable expectations.
Hope will do that to almost anyone. Squinky lives for it.
We will overreact to the first game. Happens every year, even if the opponent is unworthy. The second game is a trap, waiting to fan or smash expectations too early.
Boise State will bring a large dose of reality that could result in a soul-crushing event.
The Cowboys are in a position starting this season that I much prefer, flying a bit under the radar after saying goodbye to a fair amount of NFL talent at the skill positions. A winning record and bowl game should be in hand, and if we get lucky maybe a shot at a Big 12 title, which would also likely mean beating OU.
But these things can come crashing down at any moment. Injuries, off the field issues, officiating (see CMU), shitting down our pant leg, or just a bad bounce can send us into Twitter meltdown mode.
For OSU fans, I think we are in the best position to glean pleasure from a variety of sources. A win is a win, and we enjoy each one. Most of us can remember wandering in OSU football wilderness. Depending on your perspective, beating the Sooners might surpass anything else the team achieves. Guaranteeing a winning record and a bowl game is always good and Gundy has the Cowboys on an unprecedented run in that regard. Being in the hunt in November for a Big 12 championship is exhilarating. Anything else is gravy, and GRAVY, Andy Dufresne, is the best of things.
So let hope spring eternal once again as we all climb on the bandwagon towards college football’s land of broken dreams, and say a prayer of thanks that we are not Kansas fans.