In November, the Oklahoma State University family lost four souls in a plane crash. The day the news broke, the OSU football team saw their unblemished record tarnished in Ames, Iowa as the Cyclones handed the Cowboys a double-overtime loss. That day, some were upset that the perfect season was no longer attainable. But others were faced with the knowledge that life would never be the same.
Some thought that the news of the crash should be no excuse for a poor performance on the football field, with a few people downplaying the significance that a loss of two women's basketball coaches would have on not only football, but the athletic department and Stillwater community as a whole. But others knew that the tight-knit OSU family would be affected immesurably.
The imprint Kurt Budke, Miranda Serna and the Brandstetters made went far beyond the basketball court. The Budke family was present last night as OSU narrowly defeated the Stanford Cardinal in a 41-38 overtime win in the Fiesta Bowl. And the Budke family was present on the stage when Mike Gundy was presented the trophy, only to hand over the golden football to Kurt's widow, Shelley.
"I want to dedicate this win to the four victims of the plane crash," Gundy said to the sea of orange. "It meant so much to the Oklahoma State people and to our team and for their families. The players wanted to do it."
In Oklahoma, football is big. Really, really big. But sometimes life - and family - is even bigger. Remember the 4.