By JASON ELMQUIST
STILLWATER — Loved ones are distant. Former coaches can’t be reached.
It must mean one thing — it’s Bedlam week in Oklahoma.
No matter which side of the Orange-Crimson line you stand, you likely know somebody standing firmly on the other side. For Oklahoma State football players, there’s plenty of OU fans among family and friends that find this week incredibly hard to take.
“It’s a big rivalry, with in-state bragging rights on the line,” said OSU senior fullback Kye Staley, a graduate of Guthrie High School. “A lot of families won’t talk this week, I know I won’t talk to my uncle (who is an OU fan) the rest of this week. It’s just a big, big rivalry game.”
Staley even said his former high school coach, a Sooner fan, suddenly goes off grid during this week, as well.
“When he found out I had an offer from (Oklahoma), he was ecstatic, but my mom didn’t care as long as I was happy where I went,” Staley said. “I’ve talked to him probably four or five times during the season, but once this game rolls around, all communication shuts off.”
For some Oklahoma State players from in-state high schools, this game has significant meaning. Some of the players may not have received offers from Oklahoma — and feeling slighted — while others joined the Cowboy program to help build it up to a Big 12 title contender.
“My uncle really wanted me to go to OU, but he still supports me no matter what. But especially around this time, the talking gets limited,” Staley said.”... I decided to come here because they had some much going for them back when I came here. They were coming up and I wanted to be a part of that success that we’re part of right now.”
This week is extra special with extra meaning for players such as Staley and other seniors from Oklahoma. Not only do the Cowboys have a Big 12 title in their sights against their hated rivals, but Saturday will also be Senior Day — with a large contingent of seniors from Oklahoma, such as quarterback Clint Chelf of Enid and receiver Tracy Moore of Tulsa, to be recognized before the game.
“This will the last time playing at Boone Pickens Stadium. And for me, it’s been a long journey,” Staley said. “We are going to try to enjoy the day with my teammates, play hard like we have these past few games, and hopefully come out with a victory.
“It’s going to be very emotional. I feel like two years ago, we had that all on the line and came out with a lot of passion and a lot of intensity and were ready to play and we just dominated. I’m not saying we’re going to have the same success as we did that year, but if we play the way we’re capable of playing, I don’t see why we shouldn’t.”
And as if the significance of the momentum wasn’t enough for players to step up for this game, some players still have the memory of last year’s heartbreaking loss in overtime on the Norman campus lingering on their minds.
“I actually have a picture of Coach Stoops celebrating, while I’m in the background walking off the field. I’ve been using that as motivation,” Staley said. “I printed that off and hung it on my mirror. It’s been up there since two days after Bedlam last year. I keep it up there just for that reason.
“I felt that last year we had a few losses and teams we wanted to get back at. We’ve done that so far this year, we’ve gotten some redemption. We just have one more game to complete that.”
Jason Elmquist is sports editor of The Stillwater NewsPress.