OSU, Missouri To Meet In AT&T Cotton Bowl

Oklahoma State head coach Mike Gundy spoke by teleconference with the beat reporters and others Sunday evening following the announcement that Oklahoma State had been selected to play in the 78th AT&T Cotton Bowl Classic on Friday, Jan. 3, 2014 against former Big 12 Conference member the University of Missouri.

Gundy is familiar with the Cotton Bowl having been the head coach when OSU played Ole Miss in the 74th Cotton Bowl Classic in 2010 and also as an offensive coordinator when the Cowboys played Ole Miss in the final Cotton Bowl Classic in the Cotton Bowl Stadium in 2004.

Gundy opened up stating the high opinion he has for the game, which is now played Arlington at AT&T Cowboys Stadium.

"They are a first-class bowl," Gundy said. "We were there a few years ago and the way they treat our families and our players and our kids it's the ultimate for a bowl.

"Certainly you would want to be in a BCS bowl because it means you won a conference championship and we fell short of that. But the location for recruiting and the ease for our fans to travel to the game, the Cotton Bowl is a great opportunity for our team and our fans and the university," Gundy added.

He also spoke about Missouri, a former conference rival which Oklahoma State has been involved in some classic games.

"Obviously, they are playing very well," he said of the Tigers. "They have won, I think, it's 11 games. They are playing in the SEC. They have won on the road. They are moving the ball and scoring points. They are running to the football.

"I know they have a couple of guys who can really rush the passer and linebackers that run and tackle. That's just from watching on TV. You don't really watch a lot of detail because ... they are not in our league, but coach (Gary) Pinkel has been there a long time and built a steady program. It's really good to see them come back and have great success."

Gundy was also asked about being surprised that Missouri made it to the SEC title game this season after their first season struggles in the SEC.

"Nothing really surprises me anymore in college football," Gundy answered. "But I think it's one of the best stories for turnaround seasons.... (They struggled before turning it around) this year to play for the SEC championship.

"I was a voter on a Coach of the Year ballot and I voted for coach Pinkel for coach of the year. I'm not sure which one it was, but I thought he was very deserving of the award."

I asked Gundy if what Texas A&M and Missouri have done in the SEC has reflected well on their old league, the Big 12.

"I don't think there is any question that Texas A&M and Missouri over the last two seasons have made a big stand in the SEC and have made us proud and made us look good coming from the Big 12," he answered.

Gundy was also asked about his final ballot in the regular season coaches poll in which he voted OSU over Oklahoma.

"I take into consideration the body of work of 12 games," Gundy started his explanation. "Some teams play 13 (games) because they play that many. What I do is I take point differential in games of teams that I believe deserved to be ranked against opponents that are bowl-eligible and try to come up with some point differential ... get faced with teams I can't decide where to put them.

"It's very difficult because we don't play each other. I just try to take into account the season in general and not one of two games and come up with the best formula that I think works to rank the teams where I think they (should be) compared to other teams in the country."

Gundy also spoke about the connections between the two programs. Missouri offensive coordinator is former OSU offensive lineman and assistant coach Josh Henson, and he has former OSU tight end Cooper Bassett as a graduate assistant. Gundy has former Missouri player and assistant Jason Ray as his inside receivers coach.

There are plenty of connections for the old conference foes heading to Dallas.

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