By Jason Elmquist
Stillwater News Press
STILLWATER, Okla. —
Perhaps Allen Iverson was on to something in his famous rant about practice.
Saturday, the Oklahoma State football program held an open spring practice — not a game, but practice. And the Cowboy faithful showed their displeasure for practice just as Iverson did years ago.
There were as many fans in the seats at Boone Pickens Stadium as there typically is for a Cowgirl basketball game — a lackluster few thousand bodies, if that. It was a far cry from the estimated 15,000 fans who made it out to last year’s spring game.
Mike Gundy expressed earlier in the spring that one of the reasons for the switch to a practice instead of a traditional spring scrimmage was it would be a better experience for the fans.
He finally elaborated a little more after the practice that the lack of bodies in camp would have made having a spring game impossible — or at least slower, without a chance to give as many players a chance to workout.
The 90-minute practice started with 30 minutes of individual work, with the team stretched throughout the stadium — causing a sensory overload for fans instead of one focal point as a scrimmage would.
The other problem with running a practice, from a fan’s perspective, was much of the time was spent watching players running from drill-to-drill or standing around waiting for the start of a specific drill.
But once 11-on-11 drills began, fans were given a chance to see the Cowboy offense runs some plays — very similar to a scrimmage setup.
That all seemed to settle well with some fans who came out for the spring event.
“I liked it, because I like getting to see more of the aspects of the team because you get to see them play all the time,” said Travis Creasey, a native of Jones who has been to a handful of spring games over the past few years. “You get to see a little more in-depth of what they go through. The orange and black game last year, it seemed like it was really toned down to a point where you weren’t watching a game level anyway.
“It just seemed a little more intimate, like you were actually a part of it even though you weren’t. It just seemed to me like you were invited in to be a part of the program — like you were invited to practice.”
That’s exactly what OSU and Gundy were going for. Problem though, that Creasey is in the minority in that regard.
Gundy made it sound like next year’s spring finale could return to being a spring game setup — with a smaller senior class, meaning more bodies expected in camp.
If Saturday’s turnout says anything, perhaps that’s exactly what should come about. Because a turnout of a couple thousand fans doesn’t warrant opening up the program to watchful eyes for just a practice — especially if a season-altering injury were to come out of it.
At least then, it would come in a game. Not practice.
Jason Elmquist is sports editor of The Stillwater News Press. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.