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Column: 5 months later? OSU sports took a wild ride

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The Oklahoma State's senior day ceremony held before the Oklahoma State vs. OU football game on Saturday, Nov. 30, 2019, at Boone Pickens Stadium.

I still remember the week it all went down.

March 9 finally arrived — the first day of Oklahoma State football spring practice. Tylan Wallace and Chuba Hubbard were returning to OSU, the team had sky-high expectations and the narratives around this team were so captivating.

The O’Colly was ready. We were going to put a football magazine together for the 2020 season. And it was going to be really good.

The first day of spring practice arrived, and there was excitement in the air. But it was also cold...and windy. So cold we were actually indoors in a cramped room.

Ah, a cramped room — imagine that.

Now, five months later, shaking hands seems like you’re committing a crime. But it’s not just our life that’s been turned upside down, OSU sports has taken twists and turns like no one could have imagined.

It started with the unruly Level I sanctions levied on the OSU men’s basketball program, which included a postseason ban.

It was a devastating hit that virtually every analyst and expert said was an unjustified punishment. And it was equally devastating considering coach Mike Boynton put together a top-five recruiting class. This was a year everything was supposed to come together.

There was speculation many of the players would transfer and leave Stillwater, but in the end, only two left, and one of them was out of the rotation by the end of the last season.

But at the crux of it at all, the grand prize was No. 1 recruit Cade Cunningham, who kept the media and fans guessing for weeks with his decision. In the end, he, and the entire recruiting class, stayed firm with their decision to go to OSU.

Then there was the OAN T-shirt debacle with Mike Gundy. In the height of the Black Lives Matter movement, a piece of clothing sparked a fierce and polarizing debate over the future of OSU’s most successful head coach.

OSU sports were in national news much more than they typically are — and not for good reasons.

But the crazy summer seems to only fit the bill considering the trajectory this pandemic has taken.

The coronavirus “era” continues to claw out of nowhere, as it did with the Big Ten’s — almost sudden — cancellation of fall college sports.

As the summer was winding down, it felt like sports were ready to start up — cautiously, of course. But, seemingly out of nowhere, the Big Ten cut its sports and left the rest of the country in limbo.

I won’t lie, I was freaking out.

What was the Big 12 going to do? Was there going to be sports? What was I going to do as the sports editor?

I repeat, sports.

I could make a strong argument in my head for why we should have sports, but I could also put together equally strong reasoning as to why we shouldn’t.

It left me anxious for a few days. But at least sports are back — for now.

OSU sports are in a prime position across the board, but basketball and football are obviously the headliners.

Boynton’s aforementioned top-5 recruiting class joins a promising roster. With Cunningham, this team could be a dangerous, fun team to watch.

Then on the turf, with an underrated, stacked defense that’s returning 11 of 12 starters, a reloaded, talented offense and impressive coordinators, there’s so much to love about this football team.

But again, what does it all mean? If OSU football does “win it all,” what does it win?

Seriously, is there a National Championship in a year where a number many conferences have opted out of playing? If it happens, is there an asterisk next to it? Are things going to be skewed with teams potentially suffering through COVID-19 cases?

There are just so many questions. But honestly, if there weren’t, it wouldn’t feel like 2020.

sports.ed@ocolly.com