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An open letter to Oklahoma State’s student newspaper: CMU owes you nothing

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It’s a good thing you’re student journalists and still have time to learn from a terrible logistical fallacy.

Central Michigan v Oklahoma State Photo by J Pat Carter/Getty Images

Let’s talk about this.

I wanted to hope that this was some sort of joke. That this was some sort of letter to the editor that accidentally made it to the front cover as some sort of inside gag amongst the writers of The O’Colly.

This isn’t the case. It was actually teased on the front cover with the title “Officially Screwed,” with the not-so-indirect inference that Oklahoma State was cheated out of a win.

An editorial board filled with what I assume are around six to ten people, sat at a desk, talked about what issue they’ll next tackle for an edition of The O’Colly to raise awareness. There are plenty of topics to choose from. You know, like sexual assault on campus, or the treatment of minority students on campus, or the issue of transgender rights, or how we don’t give proper care to those with mental ailments, or heck, even something as mundane as the importance of voting.

This week, the editorial board decided to put out an editorial (on of all days, Sept. 11) to ask Central Michigan to give Oklahoma State their win back.

Cute.

From the beginning of the editorial, it is immediately clear that the editorial board of The O’Colly took the result of the game much too seriously for their own good, immediately turning it into a moral issue from the get-go:

This is the place where you go to start your argument, indirectly inferring that by not ceding to your ridiculous demand that an entire institution (and indirectly, those affiliated with the university) has no integrity?

Let’s talk about “core values” right fast.

CMU has no qualms about what they stand for. Their core values are easily accessible on the front page of their website, under the “about” tab. Even a quick Google search will reveal a little box that puts the vales in bold font for convenience.

The core values statement reads as follows: “to achieve our mission, we adhere to the core values of integrity, respect, compassion, inclusiveness, social responsibility, excellence and innovation.” There’s even a link that goes on to further define those terms on their own separate page, if you’d like to peruse that.

It gets a little harder to search for Oklahoma State’s core value. Scouring through the tabs on the home page produces nothing. A quick Google search requires further reading to find the right page, as you’re bound to click on a link sending you to OSU Housing, an OSU teaching club, an OSU engineering club, OSU-Tulsa, OSU-Oklahoma City or even OSU-Okmulgee.

I eventually found those values... on an institutional accreditation page.

There is no core values statement. Just definitions. In order, those core values are listed as: community, excellence, diversity, integrity, service, intellectual freedom and stewardship of resources.

If you’ll notice, integrity is fourth, behind community and excellence.

Let’s look at the definitions listed, shall we? According to CMU’s website integrity is “a steadfast adherence to the principles of honesty, trustworthiness, reliability, transparency, and accountability.” OSU’s definition is “we are committed to the principles of truth and honesty; we will be equitable, ethical, and professional.”

Notice something missing?

After recalling the final moments of that crazy ending, the next point the editorial board makes doubles down on the previous one:

Where are the ethics in Oklahoma State picking up the phone and threatening Central Michigan with legal action unless they give up a simple W?

Where is the professionalism and equitability in being so disappointed in the results of a sports game that you unnecessarily bring up a university’s core values to try and guilt them into doing something that will only serve to help your own self-interest?

Does being committed to the truth and honestly only matter when it applies to your school? Is that the cost of college athletics on the collegiate experience; that your sense of self-ego is attached to the fact that your school’s president just happened to be friends with the right people at the right time and allowed you to be placed into your current conference?

Let’s keep going down this line of reasoning.

Excuse me? A small school? Let’s look at those numbers.

Oklahoma State University had an enrollment of 25,962 as of 2014, while Central Michigan University had an enrollment of 26,698 as of 2015. Unless my math is wrong, CMU is actually the bigger school.

Let’s talk about exposure while we’re at this. The condescension of “free exposure” is so thick, I could drown in it. Oklahoma State and the Big XII, though they have no TV network of their own, have contracts with Fox and ESPN which grants most every team at least one, if not multiple, regional and national television appearances every year. Matter of fact, OK State’s next game is set to be on FS1 for the third week in a row. They take that for granted.

It is an extreme point of privilege (and yes, this is indeed privilege) to discredit someone for wanting access to something they not only cannot have, but are actively blocked from doing so.

Power Five conference schools have been autonomous since 2014, in the name of “helping the student-athlete.” They have only proceeded to get richer and cause chaos in voting situations over needlessly silly things. Power Five schools are gradually phasing out FCS and G5 opponents in their schedules or greatly restricting the contracts with G5 schools to their favor. Group of Five schools have been forced to re-prioritize entire budgets just to keep up with the changing climate and stay afloat— when they’re not actively being shut down entirely.

OSU’s coach Mike Gundy recently went off about only wanting Power Five officials at Power Five home games, which is another issue for another day.

This entire O’Colly editorial is akin to Marie Antionette telling the French to “eat cake” and expecting the people to not only be totally okay with that, but to also bake her cakes and tell her she's pretty.

Oh, and there’s also the tiny contradiction of being perfectly honest and saying that you wouldn’t do the same thing in that situation.

Editor-in-chief Nathan Ruiz admitted as much in a radio interview with Chip Chat, a sports talk show broadcast on student-run WMHW-FM in Mt. Pleasant.

So, the EIC actively made the decision and approved the editorial board’s jab at an institution’s integrity, fully knowing if the roles were reversed that their institution would not do the same, and then slides in with journalist talk for “y’all totally missed the joke”?

The defense of “well, everyone says ‘screw the refs’” doesn’t hold up either. The referees are mentioned once in the editorial; a line about “officials admitting a hiccup” during the explanation of the events that led to the moment.

The intention was clear, and the message was received.

If you truly felt that it was the referee’s fault, the focus should have been on why the game contract explicitly asked for MAC referees to call the game at OK State and where the line of communication broke down. You should look at Mr. Gundy’s quotes about only allowing P5 refs at P5 games and go down that route.

If you felt that it was the player’s fault, go ahead and put your pen to paper. Don’t feebly walk into a phone interview for a student-run radio station and say “well, I mean, we were outplayed and OSU did struggle” a day after the fact.

The players controlled what they could control. They were told there was an untimed down, so they played an untimed down. It’s not the referee’s fault that Oklahoma State forgot to cover the lateral, and it certainly isn’t the referee’s fault that Corey Willis ran 50 yards across the field horizontally at a faster rate than the safety that was supposed to be covering him.

Oklahoma State was an 18-point favorite according to oddsmakers. They never should have been in the position to lose the game in the first place, all told. So, don’t fall back on the scarecrow argument that “oh, it was the ref’s fault” because your favorite team lost.

It’s cliche, and frankly, as student journalists, you should know better than to use such lazy and emotion-laden jargon.

A final thing: journalists can hold grudges against fellow journalists, so don’t be surprised if someone from CMU balks at your suggestion to write a rebuttal against something that essentially calls their university classless:

We reached out to them to give them the opportunity.” To what? Talk about how CMU should take this golden goose egg and melt it into a statue of Pistol Pete to satisfy your sense of self-importance?

Nice of you to throw that gem in there casually over the radio and not give CM Life a chance to respond in kind, raking a fellow media member over the coals for kicks and then playing the victim.

Professional and community-oriented, indeed.

I lied; one more thing from that editorial:

This actually has some truth to it. The best way to show integrity is by example.

Included in CMU’s definition of integrity is accountability. The O’Colly’s editorial, whether it means to or not, does not take Mr. Gundy’s admitted accountability into effect, choosing instead to take the route I’ve documented in detail. So, I have some advice, in the spirit of OSU’s definition of integrity, which includes honesty and truth:

Take the L, cut the salt in your diet, and reconsider your priorities as editorial staff. There are much larger issues in the world than who won a silly football game.