Who does Pistol Pete belong to … Wyoming or Oklahoma State?
STILLWATER, Okla., -- I'm on vacation.
I'm also obviously writing a story, so you can go ahead and throw some quote marks around that v-word.
I didn't head to an exotic beach. I didn't venture into the snowy mountains or take my chances getting on a plane and flying over an expansive ocean. I'm already worried about that when the Cowboys visit Hawaii in October.
No, instead I'm in a joint where the wind comes sweepin' down the plains -- Oklahoma. More specifically, Stillwater, home of Oklahoma State University. Any time I travel to a college town, my first thought, without fail, is how has Wyoming fared against that team in football?
Every. Single. Time.
If you follow this UW program, I don't need to remind you about the 1988 Holiday Bowl in San Diego. Two words always come to mind -- Barry Sanders. The Heisman Trophy winner gashed the Pokes to the tune of 222 yards on the ground and five rushing touchdowns in a 62-14 rout of the 'Boys from Laramie. I was just 5 years old, but it's a loss I'll never forget.
My OSU-loving family down here won't let me.
These two programs have met eight times in history. The Cowboys in orange have won seven of those tilts. The one Wyoming victory came back in 1995 when Joe Tiller's Pokes boat-raced OSU 45-25 in Laramie.
Josh Wallwork tossed four touchdowns and surpassed the 300-yard mark through the air in just over two quarters of work that September afternoon inside War Memorial Stadium. Eventual Biletnikoff Trophy winner Marcus Harris hauled in three of those scoring strikes. Len Sexton, an Oklahoma native, snagged the other one.
That's the history on the field. Off, these two schools have waged a war for years over a single trademark -- Pistol Pete.
Wyoming's beloved mascot is also OSU's masked man on the sidelines.
The gruff, bow-legged cowpoke on the High Plains wears brown and gold. He has wooly chaps and a pair of six-shooters on his hips. Stillwater's version of Pete, who was actually a real person by the name of Frank Eaton, wears orange leather chaps.
The differences are subtle, but they're just enough for both universities to use the well-known symbol.
In 1993, UW and OSU came to a mutual agreement. Both would reap the financial benefits. Logos are big business.
"We needed to eliminate the likelihood of confusion in marketing," Judy Barnard, assistant to the OSU legal counsel, told The Oklahoman newspaper in Oklahoma City.
The legal battle lasted four years. UW actually filed for trademark rights 11 days before OSU did though the federal government granted it to the Okies. The terms of the deal are pretty cut-and-dried: The school's colors have to accommodate the logo and OSU has to have those three letters on the chaps and Wyoming's version has to feature the name on the Cowboy's hat.
According to the Oklahoman, OSU has been using the caricature since 1930. UW, 1966.
These two schools weren't the only ones using this logo. New Mexico State was, too. "Was" is the keyword.
OSU sued the school in Las Cruces in 2014. When the dust settled, NMSU had to pay the Cowboys just $10 a year to sell the "Classic Aggie" merchandise in the bookstore. However, they were limited to just 3,000 items per year and weren't allowed to be used by the athletic programs, essentially bringing an end to the use of Pistol Pete in the Land of Enchantment.
So, who does Pete belong to? Oklahoma State wins this one. Check out some of these photos from Heritage Hall in Stillwater:
Does it really matter though? Wyoming merch still rolls out, the school still rakes in dough. Steamboat is cooler anyway.