OSU book looks at stellar season
BY JIMMIE TRAMEL World Sports Writer
Friday, June 22, 2012
6/22/12 at 6:18 AM
STILLWATER - Robert Allen can pinpoint exactly when he got the idea to write a book about Oklahoma State football.
It was Jan. 12, 2011. That was the day Brandon Weeden and Justin Blackmon announced they were going to return to college instead of declaring themselves eligible for the 2011 NFL draft.
"At that point, everybody understood that it was game on, that something special could happen," Allen said.
A historic season happened. The Cowboys won a school-record 12 games, captured their first Big 12 championship and made their BCS bowl debut, toppling Stanford in the Fiesta Bowl.
Allen, a sideline reporter for Cowboy Sports Network, is providing an insider's account of the season in a 304-page book ("More Than a Championship") that will be published by the Oklahoma Heritage Association. Allen said the book should be available around July 20.
Because Allen went into the season knowing he was going to write a book, he became an information packrat. He collected interviews throughout the season and, the day after games, he made note of important things that happened each week.
Allen said he had the advantage of being on the sideline and "knowing" things that didn't necessarily reach media outlets. He said OSU coaches wouldn't have been keen on some of those things being written about during the season.
"But when the season is over, you can go back and you could write about some of these things because they are no longer as sensitive - kind of like when the FBI or the CIA declassifies files," Allen said during a Thursday interview following his radio talk show on Triple Play Sports in Stillwater.
Allen wrote the book before coming up with a title. The title became obvious after a conversation with co-defensive coordinator Glenn Spencer, whose wife, Angela, died during the season.
"Glenn talked about the season and how it was about a lot more than rings and trophies because a lot of young men learned they could care more about something than themselves," Allen said, using a napkin to dab moist eyes. "I get choked up, but that's where the title came from."
Allen said the book focuses on five primary characters - Spencer, Blackmon, Weeden, head coach Mike Gundy and offensive coordinator Todd Monken. Allen said the 2011 season was about more than a championship to all of them.
For Spencer, the season was about more because he endured despite losing the love of his life. Allen said Spencer views the season as a tribute to his late wife.
For Gundy, the championship meant more because he experienced it at his alma mater. Two early chapters in the book are biographical in nature and came from interviews Allen conducted with Gundy after the season.
For Blackmon and Weeden, the season was about "more" because they bypassed a year of pro paychecks to achieve collegiate goals.
And, for Monken, the "more" factor came from him facing more pressure than any assistant coach in the nation, according to Allen.
Monken replaced Dana Holgorsen, who led the offense to record-setting numbers in 2010. Monken embraced the challenge of learning the former coach's system. If the offense had fizzled, fingers would have been pointed at Monken.
"The fans here, they were legitimately sad Dana left," Allen said. "They thought Dana left and he took offensive football with him. There was no way this offense could operate the way it did, as explosive and spectacular, without Dana, because he wrote the book on it. And Dana is a great offensive coach."
But the offense kept humming and Monken put his stamp on it during a regular season in which OSU rose to No. 2 in the national rankings.
Allen was tempted to scrap the book idea after Iowa State spoiled OSU's unbeaten season. Radio play-by-play voice Dave Hunziker urged Allen to wait and see how the rest of the season played out.
The Cowboys won a Big 12 crown and played well enough in Bedlam to put themselves back in the hunt for a spot in the BCS title game. BCS controversy ensued, and Allen became convinced he had more than enough ammo to salvage his book.
Allen wants the book to cause readers to laugh and cry. He said he will be disappointed if people can get through chapters about Spencer (and a vignette provided by Spencer) without shedding a tear.
Allen also hopes the book creates one additional response: "Chapters 11 and 12, maybe not everybody who reads the book, but if you are an OSU fan, I expect a fist-pump in there somewhere."
Jimmie Tramel 918-581-8389