Cowboys continue to downplay remarks by Tulsa coach

Tuesday, September 5th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

STILLWATER, Okla.-Oklahoma State's football players insist their eagerness to play Saturday night has more to do with simply wanting to start the season and nothing to do with remarks made this summer by Tulsa's coach.

"Just playing, that's the only thing that's been on our minds," tight end Marcellus Rivers said Monday. "We're tired of practicing. We're ready to play. We only had one week of two-a-days, but it's like we've been at it forever."

It's hard to imagine, however, that comments Tulsa coach Keith Burns made to the Tulsa Press Club in July won't find a spot on the Cowboys' locker room bulletin board.

"I think we are going to pass up Oklahoma State," said Burns, in his first year with the Golden Hurricane. "I think we're two programs going in different directions."

OSU coach Bob Simmons, as he has all along, downplayed the issue Monday at his first weekly news conference of the season.

"I'm not counting on that quote to fire our football team up," he said. "What I want to be is a good football team. I want to be a mature football team. People can say different things, but you still got to go out and play the ball game."

That sentiment was shared by quarterback Tony Lindsay, who is hoping for a big senior season after an injury-shortened year in 1999.

"That just adds a little bit more to the in-state rivalry," he said. "There's going to be a lot of emotion and a lot of things are going to go on in the first couple minutes. Once all the emotion's gone, it becomes just a game like every other game."

Linebacker Dwayne Levels said he expects to see Burns' quote posted prominently in the locker room at some time during the week. But like Rivers, he said his eagerness to get started is the result of having to wait this long.

"If it wasn't Tulsa, if it would be someone else, you'd feel the same way _ just anxious and ready to play," he said.

Oklahoma State beat Tulsa 46-9 in Stillwater last year. The previous year, in Tulsa, the Golden Hurricane took a 35-0 lead on its way to a 35-20 victory.

Simmons said that was a case of his players thinking they were emotionally prepared, when in fact they weren't.

"Nobody rolls over for you, especially that ball game because that is an emotional ball game," he said. "Last year here was a whole different scenario. But we've got to go down there and be mentally ready to play."

COWBOY NOTES:@ Saturday's game begins at 6 p.m. and will be televised in the Tulsa area by Cox Communications. The telecast will be on tape delay unless the game is sold out. ... Tailback Jamaal Fobbs, who has been slowed by a strained right knee, said he is back to 100 percent. ... Simmons said Derek LaFargue, who will handle snaps on field goals and extra points, is the one freshman who is assured of playing Saturday. Tailback Tatum Bell may join that list, Simmons said. ... He said his players have handled the continuing heat wave with few problems. "That's another part I like about this football team, there hasn't been much complaining," Simmons said.