Tahlequah Daily Press


September 10, 2013

Boosters are besmirching college game

Bob Simmons' tenure at Oklahoma State was quite forgettable. Sure, there was the 1997 Alamo Bowl, but that was more quarterback Tony Lindsay and a lot of unforeseen victories along the way.

Perhaps Simmons — Oklahoma State's head coach from 1995 to 2000 — should best be remembered for his debacle at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Mo. With no timeouts in his back pocket, Simmons elected to run the ball near the goal line against second-ranked Nebraska with five seconds left. Perhaps a short, quick pass would have allowed for two plays.

Yet, no one will ever know.

Simmons elected to give the ball to his son, running back Nathan Simmons, who was stopped at the 1-yard line. There would be no shocking upset by the lowly Cowboys on Oct. 3, 1998.

But hey, maybe all it took was more than a decade to finally paint a better picture of Bob Simmons.

According to a scathing report from Sports Illustrated that was released on its website, Oklahoma State's football program was transformed into a questionable culture that advocated cash payouts to players who performed well during games.

It didn't happen with Bob Simmons in charge. No, instead the sleaziness ran rampant once Les Miles put on the head-coaching headset.

In SI's report, it says that boosters were allowed into the locker room, where they would exchange "$500 handshakes," former OSU player Fath' Carter said, referring to OSU's colossal 16-13 upset of Oklahoma in Norman in 2001. Boosters were also permitted on team flights and bus trips.

That never happened on Simmon's watch, SI said.

That's a good thing.

Because of boosters, we're at where we're at in college athletics now. It has turned into a shameless world where those with money think they've earned the right to hang out with 18-, 19-, 20-, 21- and 22-year olds. (See Nevin Shapiro in Miami, Fla.).

After all, the boosters have money and any public university is not going to turn away a booster with a loose wallet.

That's what makes Simmons look so admirable. Sure, OSU went 30-38 on his watch and only made one appearance in a bowl game. But at least he kept a sizable buffer zone between players and boosters.

Miles took over and OSU became a wild frat party.

SI reported that most of the monetary payments were overseen by former OSU special teams coordinator Joe DeForest, who is now at West Virginia with former OSU offensive coordinator Dana Holgorsen. So perhaps the football program has cleaned up its act with DeForest no longer around.

The only hope is that current head coach Mike Gundy makes his players walk a fine line between wrong and right.

Also on the bright side, OSU mega booster T. Boone Pickens' name was mentioned, but only briefly since he reportedly was not involved in any of the cash payouts. All of his money has gone to providing some of the best facilities in college athletics, and if any of the other despicable boosters would follow suit, the world of college athletics would be able to escape the stench of improprieties.

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