Oklahoma State defensive coordinator Bill Young’s appearance at the Cowboy Caravan at Oakwood Country Club might have been a little more special than his other trips to Enid.
Accompanying Young and OSU tennis coach Chris Young was the school’s first-ever Big 12 football championship trophy.
“It’s a dream come true,’’ said Young whose association with OSU goes as far come back as him selling cokes at the Cowboy home games in the early 1960s. “To win the championship outright, is just unbelievable.’’
Young has felt the impact of not only the conference championship, but finishing the season ranked No. 3, thanks to a 41-38 overtime thriller over Stanford and No. 1 overall NFL draft selection Andrew Luck.
“Without question, it opens up a lot of doors,’’ Young said. “Not only do we have the new facilities and new uniforms, we have a championship on top of it. It’s like ice cream on the cake.’’
No longer are the Cowboys the other team from Oklahoma.
“I was in Georgia last week and everyone knew everything about us,’’ Young said. “I’ve been in Houston, Dallas, I’ve been all over the country, everybody knows our program there.’’
The Enid stop was Young’s first alumni function since the championship. A huge crowd signifies the rewards of a title season.
“Everybody loves a winner,’’ Young said. “The thing about Oklahoma State fans — win, lose or draw, they are always there.’’
The off-season, Young said was a lot of fun, but a lot of hard work. The Cowboys did a “tremendous job’’ in the weight room.
OSU, under head coach Mike Gundy, have not been one-hit wonders either. The Cowboys have won 41 games over the last four seasons, seventh-highest in the nation.
OSU is one of only three schools from automatic-qualifying BCS conferences to have won at least nine games the last four seasons. The other two are Alabama and Oregon.
“I think everybody is going to be loaded for bear when they play us,’’ Young said. “We got to be ready ourselves.’’
For the Cowboys to be reloading, instead of rebuilding, they will need to follow the formula of 2011, Young said.
“It’s just going to take a team effort,’’ Young said. “Special teams, offense, defense, they all have to play well. That’s happen happened a year ago and that’s what has to happen again.’’
Young’s defense bent but didn’t break. The Cowboys led the nation in forcing turnovers with 44 — 24 interceptions and 20 fumble recoveries.
“Our No. 1 goal on defense is to score, but if you can’t score, it’s to get a turnover,’’ he said. “We have been doing a good job of that.’’
OSU allowed 26.8 points and 456.8 yards per game. Young points out the No. 1 goal of any defense is to win, which the Cowboys did.
Young pointed out OSU beat both the Heisman Trophy winner (Baylor’s Robert Griffin III) and the runner-up (Luck) as well as A&M’s Ryan Tannehill, the No. 8 overall choice in the NFL Draft.
The Pokes also had wins over No. 15 Kansas State and No. 16 Oklahoma, quarterbacked by Landry Jones, who was a preseason Heisman hopeful.
“When you line up against those guys, it’s not going to make your stats look very good,’’ he said. “We played against some awfully good football players.’’
The Cowboys would have liked to have played one more good team — LSU in the BCS Championship game. Gundy had politicked a little to try to get voters to vote OSU ahead of then-No. 2 Alabama after crushing OU 44-10 for the Big 12 title.
“If we had taken care of business in Ames, Iowa (37-31 overtime loss), we would have been there,’’ Young said. “I would have loved to have seen a playoff this past season. All coaches prefer going out and proving how good you are instead of having someone else vote.’’
But Young doesn't begrudge Alabama, who beat the Tigers in the title game after a 9-6 loss in the regular seaspn.
“They are a great football team,’’ he said. “You have to give them a lot of credit.’’
Young’s defense returns eight starters this season, losing only ends Richetti Jones and Jaime Blatnick and strong safety Markelle Martin.
“You always have to change, you can’t remain stagnant,’’ Young said about his 2012 defense. “We’ll do what we know how to do and try not to confuse our players. The less you have to think, the faster they can play. We’re excited about how things are looking up.’’
Defensive Ty Johnson, who was moved from middle linebacker, was the surprise of the spring. Nigel Nicholas, moving from tackle to end, excelled.
Shamiel Gary, a walkon safety, was pushing to be a starter.
Junior college transfer Calvin Barnett was as good advertised at defensive tackle.
“He’s got a chance to be an outstanding player,’’ Young said. “He gave us the flexibility to move Niguel outside.’’
The offense lost two No. 1 NFL draft picks in quarterback Brandon Weeden and wide receiver Justin Blackmon.
Will the defense, though, face more pressure with a true freshman, Wes Lunt, being listed as a starter. He’s 10 years younger than Weeden.
“Who knows, it’s going to depend on a lot of things,’’ Young said. “We have a real good offensive line and we have some excellent wide receivers. We should be much improved in a lot of areas. There’s a lot of positive things right now.’’
OSU will miss Blatnick, whose return of a Jones fumble to the OU 1 was considered to be one of the turning point in the victory over the Sooners. OSU only led 10-0 at the time.
“He was so underrated,’’ Young said.”He didn’t get enough credit for how well he played. We wouldn’t have traded him for anybody in the country. All three of those guys are going to be tough to replace.’’
The win over OU — the first since 2002 over the Sooners — “was just one of those games where everything fell into place.’’
Few could appreciate how far OSU has come than Young, who played for the Cowboys from 1965-67. The Pokes went 11-17-2 over that period, but had two wins over OU, one over Arkansas and one over No. 3 Colorado.
“We always had good teams,’’Young said. “We just played tremendous schedules. We had a good defense. We struggled on offense ... sometimes we would be punting on third down ... it’s just a wonderful feeling to be part of a outright championship.’’
Young isn’t satisfied with just one trophy.
“We always want to win every game,’’ Young said. Nothing has changed that. Our goals are the same. The pressure will always be there, but that’s what’s going to make you better.’’