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The Oklahoma State Cowboys football program represents Oklahoma State University–Stillwater in college football. The team is a member of the Big 12 Conference and competes at the NCAA Division I Football Bowl Subdivision level. The Cowboys are led by Mike Gundy, who is in his seventh year as head coach. Oklahoma State plays their home games at Boone Pickens Stadium in Stillwater, Oklahoma.
The Oklahoma A&M Aggies (also referred to as the Tigers) joined their first conference for the start of the 1915 season, the Southwest Conference. In 1925, the Oklahoma A&M program joined the Missouri Valley Intercollegiate Athletic Association. In 1928, the MVIAA split into the Big Six Conference and the Missouri Valley Conference. A&M was the only large school that joined the smaller MVC. In 1956, A&M announced it was joining (or rejoining, depending on one's view) what had become the Big Seven for the 1958–59 academic year. As part of a transition period, the Cowboys went independent for two years. On May 15, 1957, Oklahoma A&M changed its name to Oklahoma State University. They officially became a part of the renamed Big Eight Conference in 1958. In 1996, OSU joined with the other Big Eight schools and four schools from the old Southwest Conference to form the Big 12 Conference.
The current head coach is Mike Gundy (59–30 and 4–2 in bowl appearances). During Gundy's playing career, the Cowboys enjoyed their greatest success, including two of the four 10-win seasons in school history. Also during this era, in 1988, in what has been called the greatest season in college football history, Barry Sanders led the nation by averaging 7.6 yards per carry and over 200 yards per game, including rushing for over 300 yards in four games. He set college football season records with 2,628 yards rushing, 3,249 total yards, 234 points, 39 touchdowns, of which 37 were rushing (also a record), five consecutive 200 yard games, scored at least two touchdowns in eleven consecutive games, and 9 times he scored at least three touchdowns. Sanders won the Heisman Trophy as the season's best player.
This success came at a price, however. Only days after the end of the school's second straight 10-win season, OSU and the NCAA released the results of an unusual joint investigation. The report detailed a staggering litany of misconduct dating to before the Johnson era, principally involvement in a "bidding war" for high school phenom Hart Lee Dykes. The Cowboys were slapped with four years' probation, a three-year bowl ban and a two-year ban from live television. However, the most serious long-term sanction was a limit of 20 scholarships from 1989 to 1992. As a result of the sanctions, the Cowboys only had one winning season from 1989 to 2001.
The OSU football program is in the process of establishing itself as a major college football contender, participating in 22 bowl games overall, including the last six consecutive years. There have been 34 All-Americans to play for the Cowboys, with many coming from ranks of running backs. The Cowboys have won 10 conference championships and the team has had one Heisman Trophy winner and two members go onto the NFL Hall of Fame.