Two months ago, Sports Illustrated broke a five-part investigative series entitled "The Dirty Game," which detailed and documented "widespread corruption" within the Oklahoma State football program.
At the time, people wondered aloud about how the report would affect OSU. Would there be further investigation? Sanctions from the NCAA? Crippling long-term repercussions?
Apparently, quite the opposite.
According to Berry Tramel of The Oklahoman, Cowboys head coach Mike Gundy said that the only consequence of "The Dirty Game" thus far has been an uptick in recruiting.
It’s interesting. I think we had 19 commitments prior to it. I think we have 22 now. I think it helped us in recruiting. It benefited our program. [...]
For the most part, until somebody [from the NCAA] brings [the report] up, it’s almost like it faded.
Gundy also mentioned that "four or five" players who showed little interest in Oklahoma State prior to the report expressed interest after the report.
The SI exposé had four major sections: "The Money," "The Academics," "The Drugs" and "The Sex," all of which documented the different types of alleged corruption. The breadth of the charges dated all the way back to Les Miles' days at Oklahoma State, and it appeared poised to rock college football on a national scale.
But the stories had issues that a lot of people in the media took issue with, leading many to simply gloss over and dismiss its findings. At the time, B/R's Ben Kercheval voiced his own qualms:
And that's ultimately where SI's series fell short: it wasn't interesting. Rip Thayer Evans or SI's editors for fact-checking or some super-secret agenda that may or may not exist if you must, but those criticisms still miss the point. Besides, they did the work. I'm not interested as much in questioning whether they did it correctly.
Rather, my criticism is this: "The Dirty Game" is a story that's been told before ad nauseam. It's just been packaged differently and sold over five days. (That, in our ADHD society, was an interesting choice by itself.) What readers want is something different, something they haven't heard before.
According to Tramel's piece, Oklahoma State's public relations department also did a great job tiding over the scandal—to the point where many of the sources in the story renounced their statements.
Now, it seems, the Cowboys can focus squarely on the future.
Is there actually a positive correlation between the reports about sex, drugs and money, and Oklahoma State's new recruiting class? Probably not.
The Cowboys' new recruits cannot be accused of chasing those vices; presumably, they just want to play in Stillwater for a team currently ranked in the BCS Top 10. Who could blame them for wanting that?
But there's definitely not been a negative correlation thus far, which has to be taken as great news for Cowboys fans.
No. 10 Oklahoma State will host the undefeated and fourth-ranked Baylor Bears on Saturday.