Oklahoma State Coach Pat Jones joked after a media day golf tournament that "one thing that's gonna be investigated around here are some of these scores."
Barry Switzer, down the road at Oklahoma, was asked about reports that a Sooner assistant had paid Hart Lee Dykes, regarded as one of the nation's top recruits, $1,000 to attend Oklahoma."My first thought was `Was that all?' " Switzer said with a laugh.
Ahh, there's nothing like football season in Oklahoma.
Particularly this year, because both schools are under investigation by the NCAA.
At Oklahoma, the NCAA said infractions ranged from alleged payments to recruits to coaches allowing athletes to borrow their cars. The allegations are said to be along the same lines at Oklahoma State, which unlike Oklahoma has not made public the NCAA's official letter of inquiry.
Much of the preseason talk at the schools dealt not with how to replace players who have graduated or the strength of each team's schedule, but how soon the NCAA will lower the boom.
"One of the problems of this process is that all the innuendos . . . the offshoot of some of those are worse than the actual results," Jones said.
"I don't think anybody's proud of this. We're not. OU's not. But the stuff I have no control over I don't worry about."
At Oklahoma State, many of the allegations reportedly involve the dealings of the team's former recruiting coordinator, Willie Anderson. Anderson was dismissed from the staff early in 1986 after the Big Eight Conference passed what was nicknamed the "Willie Anderson Rule," which expressly forbid conference coaches from slinging mud at other member schools.
That rule was passed following a recruiting season in which Oklahoma coaches, particularly Switzer, accused Anderson of trashing the Sooners during visits with recruits.
"The worst kind of cheating is where it's organized or directed in some way," said Myron Roderick, athletic director at Oklahoma State. "Whenever the NCAA comes in ... there are probably going to be some violations no matter where it's at.
"It's something you don't want, but you can't cry over spilt milk. You've got to face up to it and face the penalties and go full blast ahead.
"There's some very positive things that will come out of the investigation. The NCAA came in here and thoroughly investigated us, and we wanted the truth out. We know there was nothing organized," Roderick said.
The University of Oklahoma, pressed by media groups who wanted access to the NCAA's official letter of inquiry, released a summarized list of the allegations. Many infractions centered on recruits - an alleged $1,000 payment to one (unnamed); free T-shirts and air fare to others.
Since the summary was released, things quieted down somewhat while the university and its team of attorneys prepare a response to the NCAA.
"I don't want to minimize the importance ... but contrasting ours with others, it could be worse," said athletic director Donnie Duncan.
Do the investigations mean the schools will open the seasons with black eyes?
"How about Texas?" Switzer asked. "Is everybody looking at it like a black cloud hanging over Texas? I don't think anything about it. ... I'm not embarrassed at all about our allegations."
While the coaches and players at Oklahoma and Oklahoma State wait for the NCAA's final judgment, they also try to keep their minds focused on what challenges they'll face on the field.
Still, as Roderick said: "I could have been a better summer if it didn't happen."