Homecoming at Oklahoma State is a special event despite the moanings of some misanthropic mullets who think the festive and decorative efforts around the campus are “a complete waste of time and money.”

I suppose in these concerned times for our individual liberties this is an acceptable reaction, particularly since it isn’t against the law to make a complete fool of yourself in public.

OSU’s homecoming week is special. It’s survived a half-century of criticism by a few but the overwhelming majority, including many national journalists, applaud the university, its students, friends and alumni for keeping this traditional celebration alive.

Frankly, it’s hard to argue when 30,000 plus people take part in the Friday evening “walk around” and follow it up with the football game the next day.

This year there’s a special homecoming within the normal celebrations; The Golden Anniversary of the 1958 OSU football varsity.

While the basketball team had already been integrated into the Big Eight conference schedule, football needed a couple more years to compete before several multi-year contracts were exhausted.

The ’58 varsity posted an 8-3 record and for the first time in 13 years the Cowboys played in a post-season affair, the ill-fated Blue Grass Bowl in Louisville.

That bowl game was played during a week where the temperature in Louisville never got warmer than seven degrees above zero. In fact, the turf was frozen so solidly both OSU and Florida State wore sneakers because football cleats wouldn’t dent the frozen tundra.

Yet, even a half-century later the early returns show a bumper turnout of former players and families. They’ll start gathering in Gallagher-Iba’s O-Club room at 9:30 a.m., Saturday, and be given a tour of the new and improved athletic facilities.

Following a luncheon the former players and families will move next door for the OSU-Baylor football game.

Early acceptances include such former standouts as Larry Rundle, Jim Dobson, Ralph Bock, Gerald Benn, Tony Banfield, James Elliott, James Frazier, John Calvin, John Hayes, James Howard, Byron Jones, Walter Kaul, Fred Latham, Jorge Madamba, Dan Northcutt, Lynn Pitts, Tommy Wilson, Dick Soergel, Don Soergel, David Cross and Dan Slatle, plus probable shows by Duane Wood and Dan Wagner.

Jason Penry, OSU’s Posse Club Director, has scheduled this group to be honored between the third and fourth quarters of the football game at the east end of the playing field.

This may seem a little showy for contemporary fans but it’s also special to this writer because this was my first Cowboy football season having arrived in Stillwater the preceding Spring.

I spent the game, frozen to the bone, sitting on elevated scaffolding, serving as OSU’s spotter for the ABC-TV crew that included the late Harry Wismer and his analyst, Howard Cosell.

It was so cold when the game ended that climbing down the scaffolding, I dropped my brief-case and it split wide open when it hit the frozen turf.

It was a painfully frozen day in ‘58 but now it will be embraced with the warmth of old friends and wild tales from that cold Saturday afternoon a half-century ago.

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