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OSU football: Thurman Thomas hopes Ring of Honor induction bridges gap with Mike Gundy, alumni

STILLWATER — Oklahoma State legend Thurman Thomas is honored to be the inaugural inductee into the Cowboys’ Ring of Honor.

It allows him to be a bridge.

With coach Mike Gundy. With alumni. With the university.

“I still have to do my job,” Thomas said during a Zoom interview with reporters on Tuesday. “I still have to get stronger ties with the university, which I’m going to do from this point on. 

“There's been a gap between some of the alumni and some of the people at the athletics department. I want to make that gap come together.”

Thomas is being celebrated by the Cowboys’ new highest honor for a former player Saturday at halftime against West Virginia. But he’s wanting to do more than just accept an honor. He’s wanting to strengthen the program inside and out, starting with building a relationship with Gundy. 

Thomas was open over the summer, telling the Tulsa World, “I don’t know Mike Gundy,” following the turmoil that surrounded the football team. Thomas said he’s spoken to Gundy maybe once since leaving OSU.

That should change this weekend.

“This here is a start to me coming back, hopefully having a conversation with Mike Gundy, (athletic director) Mike Holder, everybody that’s been involved with this,” Thomas said.

“You still want to see some change. You still want to see what are they doing as a university to close all this. Hopefully, I will get to see Mike and talk to him for a little bit. I know it won’t be a long time, but he’ll know where I’m coming from and I’ll know where he’s coming from a little bit better.”

A Hall of Fame running back who is the Cowboys’ all-time leading rusher, Thomas’ name and jersey No. 34 will be unveiled atop the west end zone of Boone Pickens Stadium. OSU will wear white jerseys that are a replica of the 1987 Sun Bowl uniforms Thomas wore in his final college game, coincidentally against West Virginia.

He remains a huge OSU supporter — receiving the call of his induction from wrestling coach John Smith, who Thomas said drew him to love wrestling while in college. Thomas has reached out to basketball coach Mike Boynton and even watched the Cowgirls’ softball team play in Florida.

Thomas wants to be in Stillwater each year for the Ring of Honor ceremony. He wants to be there for other events.

And he wants to be there for Gundy.

“I don’t know him as well as probably I should know him,” Thomas said. “And that’s something that I’m looking forward to. I would love to sit down and have a conversation with Mike Gundy, like I have a conversation with Melvin Gilliam, like I have a conversation with Curtis Luper, Hart Lee Dykes. I have conversations with those guys, so I know them a little better. With Gundy doing his thing at Oklahoma State, that’s just not an opportunity for me to sit down all the time and talk to him. 

“I love Mike Gundy. I’m not going to lie, I love Mike Gundy. I love that he handed the ball off to me 20-25-30 times a game. I love that. He was a big part of my career, big part of Barry (Sanders’) career, big part of Hart Lee’s career. 

“I just wish that the bond could be a little bit stronger, because I get tired of seeing whatever the school down the street does all the time with their former players.”

Related Photos
Head coach Mike Gundy gives Thurman Thomas a hug before the game.   Oklahoma State University (OSU) vs University of Texas college football game in Stillwater, Okla. at Boone Pickens Stadium October 29, 2005.  Doug Hoke/The Oklahoman

Head coach Mike Gundy gives Thurman Thomas a hug before the game. Oklahoma State University (OSU) vs University of Texas college football game in Stillwater, Okla. at Boone Pickens Stadium October 29, 2005. Doug Hoke/The Oklahoman

<figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-bfa9c91113dec4254e1ac27274e4033e.jpg" alt="Photo - Head coach Mike Gundy gives Thurman Thomas a hug before the game. Oklahoma State University (OSU) vs University of Texas college football game in Stillwater, Okla. at Boone Pickens Stadium October 29, 2005. Doug Hoke/The Oklahoman" title="Head coach Mike Gundy gives Thurman Thomas a hug before the game. Oklahoma State University (OSU) vs University of Texas college football game in Stillwater, Okla. at Boone Pickens Stadium October 29, 2005. Doug Hoke/The Oklahoman"><figcaption>Head coach Mike Gundy gives Thurman Thomas a hug before the game. Oklahoma State University (OSU) vs University of Texas college football game in Stillwater, Okla. at Boone Pickens Stadium October 29, 2005. Doug Hoke/The Oklahoman</figcaption></figure>
Jacob Unruh

Jacob Unruh is a graduate of Northeastern State University. He was born in Cherokee and raised near Vera where he attended Caney Valley High School.During his tenure at NSU, Unruh wrote for The Northeastern (NSU's student newspaper), the... Read more ›

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