OSU

Oklahoma State head football coach Mike Gundy celebrates his 100th victory by giving high-fives to fans as cornerback Lenzy Pipkins gives him a hug after beating No. 10 West Virginia during their homecoming football game Saturday, Oct. 29, 2016 at Boone Pickens Stadium in Stillwater, Oklahoma. The Cowboys won the game 37-20.

CNHI PHOTO/David Bitton

Can too much hype be a bad thing?

Sports teams, or more specifically, sports fans, can bring a lot of hype with them into an upcoming season. Many factors, such as returning talent and previous year’s records, contribute to this preliminary excitement.

But when does too much hype become a problem? Or is hype actually a good thing?

Let’s take this year’s Oklahoma State football team as an example. The Cowboys enter the 2017 season ranked No. 11, but they’ve already been picked by Sports Illustrated as one of the four teams in this year’s College Football Playoff.

The hype train has been rolling full steam ahead in Stillwater for months. For the most part, it’s well deserved. OSU returns most of its offensive stars, including quarterback Mason Rudolph, running back Justice Hill and a plethora of star power at wide receiver in James Washington, Jalen McCleskey, Chris Lacy and Marcell Ateman to name a few.

It’s easy to see why there is a lot of hype and excitement for this year’s OSU squad. That’s too much offensive firepower for any defense to stop, especially in the Big 12 Conference. A top-ranked defense from SEC or Big 10 country might slow down the Cowboys in the playoff, but that’s even hard to foresee.

Yet, is that offense enough to earn the hype? Some OSU fans already believe they’ve locked up a spot in the revamped conference title game, and maybe even a conference championship win.

Hype guarantees nothing.

This is where too much hype can be problematic. If the Cowboys don’t live up to the hype, will the 2017 season be regarded as a disappointment? Is it conference championship or bust?

This is where expectations must be tempered. Too much hype can create dangerous thoughts like this.

Bedlam rival and defending Big 12 champ Oklahoma still awaits the Cowboys – at least once – this fall. It’s painful for the orange and black faithful to hear, but the rival from Norman has owned the Bedlam football series.

Maybe this is the year to flip the trend. It feels like it ought to be, but once again, that’s all built upon hype, not actual performance on the field.

OSU hasn’t taken a regulation snap this fall. Can the offensive line block well for Rudolph and Hill? How will the new Cowboy Backs fare in the trenches? Can the Cowboys’ secondary slow down high-powered offenses in the Big 12?

None of these have been answered and all are important to the success of the Cowboys. Don’t put the cart before the horse.

This OSU season can be compared to the next blockbuster movie to be released. “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” has a tough road ahead as to fulfill fans’ approval in December. If it delivers, it will crush the box office and become an instant classic. If it fails, it will reach “Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice” levels and be much maligned.

It’s the same thing for the Cowboys. A berth and victory in the conference championship would most likely suffice OSU faithful. A spot in the College Football Playoff would be icing on top. However, a loss or two to Oklahoma and no Big 12 title would be underachieving.

It’s tough to control our emotions when things look quite positive. Yet, remaining grounded and enjoying the ride is a must for sports fans.

Coaches often talk about taking the season game by game. Fans should do the same. Take this season week by week, enjoying what glories may come from it.

Building too much excitement may lead to disappointment, even with a successful season. No need to feel angst about a season before it begins.

Enjoy the ride OSU fans. It will be bumpy and wild at times, but could lead to gold in 2018.

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