So Dez Bryant is out, maybe for the rest of the year. Maybe we’ve seen the last of Bryant with the OSU football team. As an OSU fan, I’m not really too worried about it. I’m more worried about the next horribly depressing thing that’s going to happen this season. Don’t blame me for the negative expectations. I’ve been conditioned that way over the years.
The OSU football team is the master of the figurative punch to the gut of its fans. You know what I’m talking about. Two years ago against Texas, blowing a three-touchdown, fourth quarter lead, then missing a go-ahead field goal in the closing minutes just to watch the Longhorns march down the field at will and kick a game-winner. How about the infamous and super-demoralizing loss in Austin a few years ago when the Cowboys raced out to a big lead in the first half only to allow 1,307 unanswered points? Even a stringy Mike Gundy finding an open Brent Parker in the end zone for an OU-beating touchdown in 1988, only to see the ball fall to the turf, uncaught. All great examples of the punch to the gut. Trouble is, if you were already down and battered, that punch to the gut would be a whole lot easier to absorb. That’s how OSU rolls: They give you hope first, lift you up a little, get you off guard. Then they bring the hay-maker to the midsection.
Maybe that’s the part that makes it the hardest to be an OSU fan. They always seem to find a little glimmer of hope. You’re tantalized with it. Tempted with it. And in the end, tormented with it. It comes with the territory of being an OSU fan. So maybe before this season started, we should have checked the hope meter and realized things were too good to be true. Maybe when you have games like those I mentioned above — those games where you find yourself saying, “You know, this game is like a mircocosm of my existence as an OSU fan” — you just have to sit back and realize things may never be as good as you want them.
But who wants to be that guy? That’s the old guy who’s had season tickets for like 50 years and now goes to the games with a stone-cold look of resignation on his face. I sat next to that guy in Gundy’s first year. He didn’t talk. Didn’t move. Didn’t seem to care OSU was barely beating the likes of Montana State, roundly being shut out by an average Colorado team, or somehow winning their only conference game against Texas Tech. He had seen it all. He had learned his lessons. He would not be tricked by a mere glimmer of hope.
Thing is, I was finding myself turning into that guy. I mean, how many punches to the gut do you have to take before you can’t help but turn into that guy? Then came this season. Like so many fans, I’m sure, I let my guard down. I let hope sink in. OSU beat Georgia. Hope ballooned. And then the Cowboys started swinging the giant fist of football despair. Against Houston, it connected. Kendall Hunter got hurt. The team looked average against Rice. Bryant and Perrish Cox got hurt. Jeremy Smith ran wild against Grambling, then he was out for the season. Houston lost to UTEP, which lost to Texas by like 700 points, making OSU’s loss to Houston that much harder to take. We’re not talking about just a glancing, one-time shot to the gut here, we’re talking about a punch that landed hard, brought the pain and wants to keep on giving.
OSU’s season has gone beyond anything we’re used to seeing as fans. You might argue the Houston game was one of those microcosm games I mentioned earlier, but I won’t do that. That would take attention away from the season as a whole. In fact, I think we’re smack in the middle of OSU’s first microcosm season. It’s just like those games when you thought they had a chance, only to see it squandered away in agonizing fashion. Only this one ain’t lasting just for 60 minutes. This truly could be OSU’s most devastating punch to its fanbase’s gut yet. And we’re only one third of the way through the season! What’s next? Losing to A&M and Baylor? Zac Robinson getting hurt? Boone Pickens asking for his money back?
That’s why I’m not all too worried about losing Dez Bryant. I’m fairly certain it’s not the last terrible thing that’s going to happen to OSU’s football team this season. If I start bracing for that punch to the gut now, maybe it won’t hurt as much when it lands.