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OSU football: Cowboy fans celebrate return of Chuba Hubbard & Tylan Wallace

STILLWATER – The hundreds of students dispersed and the celebration slowly ended, but Abby Smith kept dancing Tuesday. Football season is more than seven months away, but Smith had no interest in waiting until September Saturdays to again feel the vibe.

And just think, when she entered the OSU Student Union, Smith didn’t even know who Tylan Wallace was.

Smith had heard there was a jamboree to revel in Chuba Hubbard’s decision to forego the NFL for another year as the Cowboy tailback, and that was enough to pique Smith’s interest. Call it a balm for the long wait between autumns.

“I just like being in the atmosphere of Boone Pickens Stadium,” Smith said after posing for a picture with All-American receiver Tylan Wallace, who also announced he would bypass the NFL Draft and return to OSU. “Because it gets all hyped up and it’s like fun and energetic. I don’t actually understand football. I think it’s just fun.”

Smith knew Hubbard because the students always chant his name – you can have a lot of linguistic fun with the name “Chuba” – but admits she didn’t really know Wallace from any other Cowboy. Until now.

“I just made a pinkie promise with him, so now we’re friends,” Smith said. “He pinkie promised he would come eat with our small group for lunch one day.”

Wouldn’t surprise me a bit if Wallace keeps the promise. Such is the atmosphere at OSU, which has more than a collegiate feel. This is a campus with a collegial feel, where everyone either knows each other or soon will.

All of which made the Student Union at lunch time a perfect place to celebrate the decisions of Hubbard and Wallace, whose decisions have ignited lofty expectations for OSU football 2020.

“Are you ready for football season?” asked ceremony host Larry Reece, even though the Cowboy basketball season hasn’t even reached a third of the way through the Big 12 schedule.

Hubbard didn’t exactly dampen the mood when he told the crowd, “I want a national championship. So that’s what we’re going to do. We’ll be bringing a national championship to Stillwater.”

Mike Gundy, forever the realist, later pulled the reins on such over-the-top talk.

“First, we need to win the Big 12,” Gundy told reporters standing on the Student Union floor. “Somebody’s got to knock Oklahoma off. If you do that, you’ve got a chance to go to the next round.”

Caution indeed is in order. The last time such a spectacle ensued, it was March 2013, and basketball players Marcus Smart, Markel Brown and Le’Bryan Nash announced they would return for another OSU season.

Visions of a Final Four or even a national title swept through many in the Student Union that day. A year later, the ninth-seeded Cowboys lost to Gonzaga in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, capping a 21-13 season in which OSU finished 8-10 in the Big 12, good for eighth place in the 10-team conference. A Cheez-It Bowl basketball season.

So you never know. But hope is a fabulous thing, so cut OSU fans – and students who don’t know Tylan Wallace from George Wallace – a little slack.

“I’m excited,” said Jonah Abrell, an OSU student who graduated from Deer Creek High School. “Always loved the Pokes … I’m mostly excited because I’m a huge hockey fan and I have a Wayne Gretzky jersey, and I get to wear that to every game in Boone Pickens, and it just means another year to cheer on Chuba (a Canadian), because the Great One is backing him. So if I’m backing the Great One, that means I’m backing Chuba. It’s just another year of the jersey out in public.”

OSU has mostly avoided the national trend of receding student attendance at football and basketball games. The Cowboys rarely have empty seats in the Boone Pickens student section, and the students sometimes are all that’s keeping Gallagher-Iba Arena percolating. OSU has sold 11,229 student tickets for football/basketball combined, a healthy number in these days of millennials addicted to their iPhones.

“Football season is a time we get to come together as a student body and just be unified,” said student Jaydon Maehs of nearby Morrison. “The football team unifies the student body. We get to be encouraged and we get to lift them up. It’s a time we can get super excited. ‘Go Pokes. Be loyal and true all the way.’”

Good explanation of the relationship between a football team and a student body, which is becoming more and more rare, but remains alive and well on this campus, where expectations are high and student union is more than just the name of a building to host a party.

Berry Tramel: Berry can be reached at 405-760-8080 or at btramel@oklahoman.com. He can be heard Monday through Friday from 4:40-5:20 p.m. on The Sports Animal radio network, including FM-98.1. You can also view his personality page at newsok.com/berrytramel.

Related Photos
<strong>Oklahoma State wide receiver Tylan Wallace, left, takes a photo with student Cassidy Breaux, 19, of Houston, after a football pep rally Tuesday in the Student Union. [Nate Billings/The Oklahoman]</strong>

Oklahoma State wide receiver Tylan Wallace, left, takes a photo with student Cassidy Breaux, 19, of Houston, after a football pep rally Tuesday in the Student Union. [Nate Billings/The Oklahoman]

<figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-f9f5acbdb12e45d6dfa7540f76e95350.jpg" alt="Photo - Oklahoma State wide receiver Tylan Wallace, left, takes a photo with student Cassidy Breaux, 19, of Houston, after a football pep rally Tuesday in the Student Union. [Nate Billings/The Oklahoman] " title=" Oklahoma State wide receiver Tylan Wallace, left, takes a photo with student Cassidy Breaux, 19, of Houston, after a football pep rally Tuesday in the Student Union. [Nate Billings/The Oklahoman] "><figcaption> Oklahoma State wide receiver Tylan Wallace, left, takes a photo with student Cassidy Breaux, 19, of Houston, after a football pep rally Tuesday in the Student Union. [Nate Billings/The Oklahoman] </figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-fd85b735c79d752dc2043413214d8de0.jpg" alt="Photo - Oklahoma State students and fans watch from the upper floors of the OSU Student Union during a football pep rally Tuesday. [Nate Billings/The Oklahoman] " title=" Oklahoma State students and fans watch from the upper floors of the OSU Student Union during a football pep rally Tuesday. [Nate Billings/The Oklahoman] "><figcaption> Oklahoma State students and fans watch from the upper floors of the OSU Student Union during a football pep rally Tuesday. [Nate Billings/The Oklahoman] </figcaption></figure>
Berry Tramel

Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The Oklahoman,... Read more ›

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