Mike Gundy is the face of the program’s past, present and future. Barry Sanders is the standard by which all Oklahoma State running backs are judged. And Hart Lee Dykes? The third member of that great OSU triplets offense of the late 1980s feels his university has forgotten him.
“I think I laid a lot of sweat and tears for OSU,” Dykes told the Tulsa World’s Matt Baker, “and for it to be overshadowed and covered up, I don’t agree with that.”
Before Justin Blackmon, before Dez Bryant, before Rashaun Woods there was Dykes, who left Stillwater as the Big Eight’s career receptions and receiving yards leader. He also left the program in shambles.
NCAA investigators found Dykes accepted a $5,000 payment from an OSU assistant for signing with the Cowboys and received cash payments and a sports car during his career.
OSU received a three-year postseason ban, but all four schools involved in the so-called “bidding” war for Dykes — Oklahoma, Texas A&M and Illinois were the others — were punished by the NCAA.
“Hey, man, I was a kid,” Dykes told the World, adding that he shouldn’t have accepted the benefits but he thinks most players would have done the same thing he did.
“Any 18-year-old kid, you offer him money, you offer him incentives, they’re going to take it. The only people that want to act like I was a villain are people that don’t want to accept it and don’t want to look in the mirror at what life is.”
Dykes, now 44, thinks the scandal is the reason OSU hasn’t honored him as it has teammates Gundy, Sanders and Thurman Thomas.
“It’s like it overshadows my performance on the field,” Dykes told the World. “I don’t think that’s right. I think I should be judged as a football player, a student-athlete. My performance on the field spoke for itself.”
Dykes will be honored with Thomas, former OSU coach Pat Jones and ex-OSU quarterback Rusty Hilger May 1 in Tulsa at a Legends in Sports Dinner to benefit Tulsa Sports Charities.
But what do you think? Should Oklahoma State forgive, forget, celebrate and honor Hart Lee Dykes? If so, what’s the right way to do it? If not, why not?
A parting thought: Aside from the NCAA violations, Dykes case might also be weakened by the fact that he’s comparing himself to two players who are in the Pro Football Hall of Fame (Sanders and Thomas) and another (Gundy) who is Oklahoma State football.
There’s still room for the Thunder to open the NBA Playoffs on Sunday, which would be a great thing for anyone wishing to attend the Oklahoma or Oklahoma State spring games Saturday and avoid missing Oklahoma City’s playoff opener.
In fact, it’s sure looks like Oklahoma City will play at 8:30 p.m. Saturday or Sunday.
The NBA just released the Eastern Conference openers schedule and national television/radio plans for Eastern Conference openers:
Indiana at Chicago, 11 a.m., ESPN
Philadelphia at Miami, 2:30 p.m., ABC
Atlanta at Orlando, 6 p.m., ESPN
New York at Boston, 6 p.m. Sunday, TNT
The Western Conference schedule is expected to be finalized by 11 p.m. Wednesday CDT, after the Dallas, the Thunder, New Orleans and Memphis break their ties. If the Thunder wins and Dallas loses, the Thunder get the No. 3 seed and would face Portland in the first round. If Dallas wins , the Thunder is finishes fourth and opens against Denver.
Although the Sunday time slots could shift a bit, the Eastern Conference scheduling leaves these as the likely available time slots (ranked as in order of importance to the NBA and its TV partners):
– early afternoon Sunday
– mid-afternoon Sunday
– 8:30 p.m. Sunday
– 8:30 p.m. Saturday (Networks blow off Saturday night programing, figuring people have more important things to do that watch TV).
And here’s who still needs to be slotted (ranked in order of attraction to the NBA and its TV partners):
– Los Angeles vs. New Orleans or Memphis: The Lakers are the two-time defending champs, the league’s marquee attraction, and therefore will be slotted into the best slot.
– Dallas vs. Denver or Portland: OKC vs. Denver-Portland could have easily gone here. The Thunder are hot, hot, hot. But I went with Dallas because it has way more TV sets.
– Thunder vs. Denver or Portland: See above.
– San Antonio vs. New Orleans or Memphis: The Spurs are the No. 1 seeds and will probably end up winning the whole thing, but listening to ESPN talking heads argue about who they’d rather watch (Thunder or Spurs) reminded me of the Spurs’ relative low entertainment value. And a matchup with the Hornets or Grizzlies does nothing to lift their first-round Q-rating.
So, the best guess here is that it gets slotted like this:
– San Antonio vs. New Orleans or Memphis, 8:30 p.m. Saturday
– Dallas vs. Denver or Portland, early afternoon, Sunday
– Los Angeles vs. New Orleans or Memphis, mid-afternoon, Sunday
– Oklahoma City vs. Denver or Portland, 8:30 p.m. Sunday
As Berry Tramel put it, geography (Central Time Zone) lands the Thunder in the late slot. Kevin Durant (rising star) lands OKC on Sunday over Saturday.
An aside: Last week the March of Dimes announced that Thunder coach Scott Brooks was their 2011 Headliner of the Year and would be honored Monday, April 18, at a banquet. But if the Thunder opens the playoffs Saturday it would likely play Game 2 Monday, meaning the Headliner banquet would have to go on without its headliner. Maybe they know something the rest of us are waiting until late tonight to hear.
First a confession: I have booed at a sporting event.
I once booed Howard Cosell at a Monday Night Football game for comments he made about Baltimore. It was the late 1970s and I was 12 years old.
I probably would have booed John Elway the first time he played in Baltimore — after forcing the Colts to trade him by vowing not to play there. But I was away at college in Oklahoma, and looking back who could blame him? The coach was a maniac named Frank Kush and the owner was a drunk.
Had the opportunity arisen, I would have booed Bob (The Drunk Owner) Irsay every day and twice on Sunday for moving the Colts. And I have, on a few occasions, hooted at an official’s call.
That said, booing is for losers. And if you booed Blake Griffin at the Oklahoma City Arena on Wednesday night, check yourself.
Here’s who you booed:
— An Oklahoma City kid who has done nothing to bring shame and everything to bring honor to himself, his family, his hometown and his alma mater.
— The son of school teachers, one who ranks among the finest leaders of young men in the history of high school sports in Oklahoma.
— The most exciting player in the NBA.
— The former consensus National Player of the Year at the University of Oklahoma.
— A McDonald’s High School All-American who could have gone to Duke and instead joined his brother at OU.
— A player any sane OKC fan laid awake at night dreaming about, praying Blake would wind up in a Thunder uniform the year a sorry OKC squad won 23 games and lost is way into a lottery ball windfall.
You booed this guy? For what? Being the best player on the court Wednesday night? (That’s right. I said it.) For dunking on Nick Collison? For staring at him afterward? (An aside. I realize staring can be a vice. My 6-year-old daughter gave it up for lent, promising to refrain from staring at a little boy in her school “even if he’s really cute.”)
Booing opposing players is silly to start with. Booing a hometown guy is an embarrassment.
One apologist I work with claims that Blake’s the enemy now, so the boos are fair game. And if that’s your opinion you’re entitled to it. Just make sure the other side of your mouth isn’t trying to tell me Oklahoma City is home to the best fans in the NBA.
I watched Wednesday’s game on TV, heard the boos and for a minute forgot it was in OKC. Maybe that’s what happened: Fans forgot where they’re from. They wouldn’t be the first.
Lon Kruger is taking suggestions.
Saying he wants fans feedback on everything, the new Oklahoma basketball coach released his email address Thursday. It’s email@example.com.
“I want fans to know they can reach out and contact me,” Kruger said in a statement. “I want to learn what they want to see in their basketball program. As I stated on Monday, this is a shared partnership where our fans are as big a part of our success as the coaches and players. This is our team.”
Publicizing his email address is one of Kruger’s first step toward fulfilling athletic director Joe Castiglione’s pledge that everything about the men’s basketball program is under review.
“I want to get fans’ thoughts on everything: game experience, ticket pricing, game times and dates, marketing efforts, online presence and expectations for their coach,” Kruger said in a statement. “I don’t know if we can effect everything, but I guarantee you we will evaluate all of it.”
Now if he’ll only promise a weekly reading of his mailbag, we’ll really be in for a treat.