The Hail Mary isn't a super successful play -- all things considered -- but when it connects, there's nothing like it in college football.
Oklahoma State caught one this week when the school announced the program would no longer be subject to NCAA sanctions due to poor academics. As it turns out, the Cowboys have a former wide receiver who played nearly 20 years ago to thank for their good fortunes.
As detailed by The Oklahoman, Larry Mahsetky is a former walk-on receiver from the 1990s who became a key figure in the case that would have cut the team's practice time by two hours each week in 2014. He was placed on scholarship by former coach Pat Jones back in 1992, but finished just short of completing his degree when he got a job offer after the 1995 season.
Mahsetky reportedly worked in Texas for several years but later returned to the state of Oklahoma. Eventually he got in contact with the school to inquire about finishing his degree to complete a promise he made to his mother to get one. In the fall of 2012, he enrolled at a nearby community college and had the credits transferred over to get his degree.
Apparently his records were not included in Oklahoma State's original Academic Progress Rate (APR) report to the NCAA that saw them fall one point shy of the required score. The school reportedly figured things out, revised their numbers with Mahsetky's degree in them, and then sent in an updated report that gave them the boost to clear the NCAA-mandated minimums that led to sanctions.
All the compliance office needed to get the team out of trouble was a single APR point and they found it in Mahsetky going back to school to graduate. Had he not gone back to school (or done so much earlier than 2012), his APR point would not have mattered to the Cowboys' score. Had he never earned a scholarship under Jones, he likewise couldn't have helped. Instead, he ended up giving a boost to the alma mater in a much bigger way than he did on the field years ago.
"It does have some impact on some people and it does feel good," Mahsetky told the paper. "I never thought I would be in this position."
At Big 12 Media Days, head coach Mike Gundy told reporters that he was confident in his team working around the practice time restrictions. With Mahsetky's academic due diligence, though, that will no longer be a concern.
That's good news for the Cowboys considering they lost of a ton of players from their two-deep and open with No. 1 ranked Florida State. Folks might doubt OSU's ability to topple the defending national champions but, hey, sometimes the Hail Mary does work and the 2014 squad is certainly proof of that.