Who Killed Her?

I didn’t mean to kill her. Every move I made had been well-intentioned and motivated by love. But ultimately, I found myself standing there, looking at her – lifeless after four consecutive conference losses by an average of 17.5 points. I staggered back, finding my way to a dusty chair in the corner of the room. Wiping tears from my eyes, I surveyed the scene. My countenance slowly transitioned from despair to one of intrigue and curiosity. Her wounds were inconsistent. Some were fresh, others old and scarred. I got up and approached the body. Looking closely, in addition to the fresh blood, I saw some very old bruise marks, evidence of very old, yet very serious internal injuries. What was the fatal wound? WHO KILLED OKLAHOMA STATE BASKETBALL?

The suspects:

  1. Mike Boynton – Current Head Coach (2017-Present). Likable… lovable, in fact. For a non-alum raised in far-away Brooklyn, he seems to “get it” as much as any coach on campus. But now into his 7th year, his .540 record and single NCAA tourney appearance just ain’t it. Fan interest has waned to a level not seen since… well, 2016. Alibi: Time as head coach without an NCAA cloud or penalties = 0 days.
  2. Mike Holder – Previous AD (2005-2021). Arguably the greatest Athletic Director in the history of Oklahoma State University. But also approved the 10-year albatross contract for Travis Ford, locking our financially-prudent, yet financially-constrained into a mid-2010’s tailspin. Also reportedly had a strained relationship of some sort with the Suttons. Alibi: As previously stated – arguably the greatest OSU AD ever. No motive.
  3. Brad “the Snake” Underwood – Head Coach (2016-2017). The name says it all. A one-year tease and an exit faster than a cheetah shot out of a canon from the back of a Ferrari. What did he know of the looming NCAA probation? What did he know about the shenanigans by assistant coach Lamont Evans while under his watch? Alibi: Lack of means. Can you really kill a program in a year?
  4. Mike Gundy – Head Football Coach (2006-Present). Oklahoma State was a “basketball school” from 1990-2005. Mike Gundy was hired as head football coach in 2006. Hmmmm…. Alibi: Football $$ > Basketball $…
  5. Eddie Sutton – Head Coach (1990-2006). Hall of Famer (finally). .709 winning percentage at Oklahoma State. Two Final Fours. NCAA tourney appearance expectations were met (13 of 16 years during his tenure). Sweet Sixteen or Elite Eight appearances were frequent. Basically, Eddie restored the program to glory. Or did he? Did the sad and unceremonious ending followed by the unsuccessful transition to son Sean actually kill the program? For more, see EDDIE: The cost of greatness (2020) - IMDb. Alibi: Spoken in John McEnroe voice, “You cannot be serious!” He’s not even a suspect, right? Right???
  6. Gary Sparks – Owner/CEO, Sparks Architecture (1986-2006). This article in the Greater Tulsa Reporter captures it well… By (the ‘80’s and early ‘90’s), OSU’s football and basketball facilities suffered from years of neglect. Shocked by discussions about replacing the once-famed Gallagher-Iba Arena, Sparks proposed a dramatic solution – to raise a new shell over that 6,318-seat arena to renovate and expand its structure. This, which he thought could be done while Gallagher-Iba continued operations, would increase its seating capacity to 13,611, provide all the state-of-the-art capabilities OSU desired, yet retain the arena’s historic “snake-pit” attributes fans loved. Though some naysayers wondered if Sparks could pull this off, OSU gave him the contract. Completed by Manhattan Construction in 2000, the project earned widespread praise… Did this beautiful renovation actually do more harm than good? Did “Cameron Indoor West” - as dubbed by Dick Vitale - grow so big that the “rowdy” began to echo into silence as does a shout in an empty cavern? Alibi: None needed. Who could have anticipated the Thunder coming in and stealing the hearts of orange and crimson basketball fans across the state? Who could have predicted a pandemic that would constrain attendance during Cade Cunningham’s only year?
  7. Henry Iba – Head Coach (1934-1970). Legendary namesake of the arena. Hall of famer. Two-time National Champion coach at OSU and two-time Olympic Gold Medal coach for the United States. Owner of one of the most prolific “coaching trees” in NCAA history. Unassailable credentials. Or are they? In Iba’s first 20 seasons, he had a .784 winning percentage, two national championships, two additional Final Fours, and 14 regular season conference championships. In his last 16 seasons, Iba’s winning percentage dropped to .523 with only one regular season conference championship and two NCAA tournament appearances. Did he stay on too long and kill what appeared to be an early NCAA basketball blue blood program? Did he not evolve his coaching style to more modern aspects of the game? After Iba’s last NCAA appearance in 1965, the Cowboys only made the NCAA tournament once in the next 25 years. Alibi: His name is on the building. But is that enough?
  8. The NCAA Committee on Infractions (2021). Alberto Gonzales, Joel Maturi, Gary Miller, Vince Nicastro, Larry Parkinson, Thomas Sullivan and Sankar Suryanarayan. Famously called out by name by Mike Boynton after what were widely considered excessive penalties for the reported infractions. Even national pundits with no connection to Oklahoma State were criticizing the penalties. Was there a vendetta against OSU? Was the NCAA protecting Blue Bloods while “acting tough” on programs like OSU? Alibi: They were just [THIS] doing their [ALIBI] job and they can’t [MAKES] help it that the [ME] alternate “Independent Accountability Resolution Process” levied [WANT] significantly lighter [TO] penalties on other programs [PUKE] with more severe violations.
  9. Salim Stoudamire – University of Arizona basketball guard (2002-2005). Arizona senior guard Salim Stoudamire knocked down a go-ahead jump shot with 2.8 seconds left to play, lifting the Wildcats to a 79-78 win over the Cowboys in the Sweet 16. Like a precision military sniper, could a single shot actually kill Oklahoma State basketball? Seems unlikely. But 2005 was the last time Oklahoma State was a member of the Sweet 16. Coincidence? Alibi: If it seems implausible for the Snake to kill the program in a year, it seems even less likely that an opponent could do it with a single jump shot.
  10. OSU Basketball Fans – Once famous around the country, the “Rowdy” has left the building. Years ago, the lower-section sidelines were student seating. In 2006, that changed. AD Mike Holder responded to Kyle Porter (at the time a member of the Off-Campus Student Association) and said he would like the whole bottom row of the arena to be the student section, but the athletic department cannot afford to lose the donations currently required to purchase seats there (Athletic director addresses student concerns at SGA). This removed the “Cameron Indoor West” atmosphere. Less party. Less “Loyal and True”. More “give me something to cheer for”. Sure, there are beautiful moments where the environment evokes memories of what the building used to be and how it was one of the toughest places in the country for visiting teams. But now, that’s mostly a memory. And the blame spans all levels. The donors and alumni who want their courtside seats but largely sit on their hands. The students who have chosen other forms of entertainment instead of embracing something that makes the Oklahoma State athletic experience special. And even the athletic department, who sometimes seems to live with somewhat boring traditions instead of embracing and nurturing a fresh, fun, party experience environment for the home game environment. For an example of what’s happening out there, watch this from Grand Canyon University - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xeHjnzxtoHo. That’s not completely organic. That is an intentional initiative and investment by GCU. Years ago, GCU sent someone to Duke to observe and build a plan. Now, OSU needs to send someone to GCU to learn and then do something intentional in Stillwater to truly Bring the Rowdy (Party) Back. Alibi: Tradition.

I sat back in the dusty chair again and looked up at her. I wiped my tear-filled eyes and blinked a few times. Then I saw it. A twitch. It turns out she is not dead after all! Oklahoma State Basketball is not dead. In the words of Miracle Max from The Princess Bride, she is just “mostly dead”. And “mostly dead” is still slightly alive! Count me among the number that still believes that can happen with Mike Boynton and 100% wants to see that to happen. Turnarounds can happen faster in basketball than football. The NCAA penalties are wrapping up after this season. And soon, Oklahoma State basketball will be back among the leaders in the very tough Big 12 conference and in the national discussion. We’ll build on that success and football and basketball can feed each other. Ultimately, “Mr. Iba”, “Eddie”, and “@thacoachmike” will all be respected and revered names in Oklahoma State basketball history. Let’s do it.

Note - Edited to replace Travis Ford with Mike Gundy thanks to suggestion from @colinj .


Mostly Dead


OKC Thunder, OSU Football, and all sports programming being accessible in your living room are also accessories to this murder


Yes, I should have put Mike Gundy. That is a good one. I tried to include the Thunder in the arena expansion one.

(In fact - I updated the post. Replaced Ford with Gundy.)

you have way too much time on your hands…


Madeline Kahn Face GIF




I’m going to blame Underwood because it requires the least amount of brain power by myself. And with the two brain cells I have left from watching this team, brain power is a delicate resource.


If the team keeps playing this way, you may be the only media member in the post game pressers.

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i thought Arizona is where people went to retire from writing

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This would be a good episode of dateline


I was thinking Knives Out 3.


Most depressing thread I’ve ever seen.

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Not sure if this is an unpopular opinion but a little surprised not to see Sean on the list? Obviously he was put in a really difficult situation with being the head coach in waiting and then how things ended with Eddie in '06. But the end of the season collapse in the 06-07 season to miss the tourney with a pretty talented roster was rough (Obi’s injury and thin bench really killed us, that was the Adarius Bowman year). Followed up by a disappointing 07-08 to make for 3 straight missed NCAAs.

Obviously happy for Sean for how he’s turned his life around the past decade, but I always blamed him/the transition from Eddie more than I blamed Travis.


If Eddie and Sean hadn’t exited the way they both did, maybe Holder wouldn’t have had his reasons to attempt to completely erase the Sutton legacy and hire Travis Ford in the first place.

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Yeah, I kinda combined him with Eddie.

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Holder never liked Eddie and the Suttons , only thing I think why is Eddie had abuse problems earlier with the sauce. Holder was a better than thou guy to me. A perfect man. I don’t know that he even drank. Granted he was a good AD for obvious reasons. Hell of a golf coach. He certainly didn’t get along with Gundy either. I hope Chad doesn’t leave his balls in his wife’s purse when it comes to tough decisions


I can’t even rank them. I think 7 of the 10 actually do carry some blame (I put Stoudamire, Sparks, and Gundy on there for fun). But from those 7, my top tier of the guilty might go like this:

Most Guilty:
a) NCAA. Besides cratering depth and hampering recruiting, by hammering OSU and letting KU and others like them skate, the NCAA reinforced its perceived institutionalized blue blood bias. It is almost like the NCAA was TRYING to get Cade to de-commit and go to Kentucky. And when he didn’t, they somehow ensured he got drafted by Detroit. (OK, now my conspiracy theories have gone off the rails).
b) Henry Iba. I know this is blasphemy. But the guy (whether directly or via the Committee that formally selected the team) kept Pete Maravich off the 1968 Olympic team. This is just an evidence of his lack of adaptation to changes in the game which I think killed our chance of being a true Blue Blood in basketball.
c) The Fans, My most controversial take. And this isn’t just the fans sitting in the seats. It’s the athletic department and their policies and traditions. We need to intentionally foster an environment that is not “good play will earn our attendance and support”. We need to nurture a place that is enthusiastically fun and knows that the crowd is a contributing “participant” IMPACTING EACH GAME. My Grand Canyon University links are serious and intentional.


High effort post, well done.

That GCU video makes me sad. I’ve been to maybe 3 games ever in GIA that had even close to that amount of juice. I think Underwood had us close to getting the fan interest back. Ultimately, if we’re good people are going to show up regardless of Thunder/Football/etc.

I think the admin needs to realize that the program is at ground zero again, it needs a complete overhaul. There’s some history to lean on, but it’s all been 20+ years at this point. Find a coach who can build a program, invest in student engagement, and I think this thing could be revived.

Each additional year we suck is going to set us back even farther though.


To my point.

I went to 2018 Ku game in Lawerence. UNBELIEVABLE atmosphere. The energy was unmatched, I couldn’t believe how fun a game is when the crowd is fully engaged. I hope someday we can have something like that.