As much as Nick Martin enjoys being pampered, there is a much deeper meaning to the OSU-Texas A&M Texas Bowl on Dec. 27 than kitchenware. “We got some great bowl gifts and got some more coming,” he said. “The best gift of all is to be able to spend time with your guys.”
STILLWATER — Those who only see opt-outs and transfers, who sense the Playoff now hogs college football’s postseason and there’s little use for pre-New Year’s Six bowls any longer, haven’t met Nick Martin.
The Oklahoma State linebacker just went shopping on the Texas Bowl’s dime.
“I got straight kitchen stuff because I moved into my house back in June,” Martin said after taking advantage of a bowl tradition still going strong – the players’ gift suite. “I got a crockpot, a dual sandwich maker and a Ninja blender set…
“I was telling the guys, ‘Dang I must be getting old.’”
With age comes perspective, and as much as Martin enjoys being pampered, there is a much deeper meaning to the OSU-Texas A&M Texas Bowl on Dec. 27 than kitchenware.
“We got some great bowl gifts and got some more coming,” he said. “The best gift of all is to be able to spend time with your guys.”
Here we should realize that those of us scoffing are outside the locker room.
“Traveling as a team, seeing a new city, being able to go out and kind of explore some stuff…” OSU quarterback Alan Bowman said. “You can’t beat that.”
Bowman needs an NCAA waiver to return for a seventh year of college football. The Texas Bowl could be it for him.
The Texas Bowl is it for several Cowboys.
“Some of these guys on the team are going to the next level to play. It’ll be the last time this team plays together,” said Ollie Gordon, the consensus All-American who was noncommittal about his future after practice Thursday. “We’ve gotta go out with a bang, gotta get that 10th win and go out on top.”
Seeking a more tangible excuse for the Cowboys to crank it up right now? The number 10 will do fine.
“Getting to 10 wins is huge,” Bowman said. “That’s what we’re kind of hanging our hats on. That’s what we’re playing for. We want to be a double-digit win team.”
Beat A&M and this team joins 10 others in OSU’s all-time double-digit stratosphere. That’s rare air.
Beat A&M and the Cowboys bring back a trophy. That, too, is quite tangible.
“We want to be a bowl champion,” Bowman asserted.
That matters beyond 2023.
“It’s a stepping stone for next year for the guys coming back,” Bowman said. “A way to say, ‘Hey we’re gonna move forward.’”
No doubt. Just understand that the portal remaining open through Jan. 2, and the uncertainty it creates both before and after the bowl, makes the present bigger than the future. The game is the thing.
The Texas Bowl is the thing for the Cowboys, even if we wonder about its prominence.
“I feel like that’s where college football is moving. It’s gonna be more of an NFL thing,” Collin Oliver said. “Not that bowl games won’t ever matter again, but people are gonna pay more attention to the big stuff… The College Football Playoff and national championship stuff, that’s huge.
“It’s really how you attack it, how your team views the bowl game. If you prepare like it’s another game and go out there with guys having fun, it’s going to be a really good thing for you and your team.”
It’s great for Oliver that he’ll have a cheering section of family at NRG Stadium.
It’s great for Gordon that Texas A&M is the opponent.
“It’s cool to play them. An SEC school against the Big 12,” he said. “It’s always a great matchup.”
Gordon is looking forward to the trip, to bonus time with his teammates.
“We can enjoy ourselves on the trip,” he said, “but we can also be there for business.”
And that brings us back to Martin, as central to OSU’s defense as Gordon is to the offense.
The skeptics should ask him about the meaning of bowl season.
“Treat every game like it’s your last, and this is our last game of the season,” he said. “If it’s not the most important, then you’re wrong…
“You’ve gotta give your all, like always, between the hashes on the field. If you’re not giving your all, if you’re not sacrificing your body, you’re not playing the game right.”