Cowboys head coach Mike Gundy knows a little what it is like to be the former quarterback turned head coach at your alma mater. He was not surprised to see Harbaugh land at Michigan.
"Nothing surprises anybody anymore, and particular when it involves a school with a lot of money like Michigan," Gundy said after the Cowboys practice. "They’re the second-richest athletic department in the nation, right? Texas is first and Michigan is second.
I’m guessing when you’re in that position, you’re going to do whatever it takes – whatever it costs – to (fix the football program). Harbaugh is a Michigan guy. It surprised me a little bit (that he returned to college football) because he was so tied to the NFL. He’s done a great job at that level.”
Among those included in the visit were quarterback J.W. Walsh, defensive end Victor Irokansi, running back Sione Palelei, linebacker Josh Mabin and offensive linemen Devin Davis and Daniel Koenig.
The Cowboy players visited multiple patients in their respective rooms before spending time in the Child Life Zone, an entertainment area designed specifically for young patients and their families.
"It makes you appreciate what you have a lot more," Walsh said. "These kids could have bad attitudes about their situations, but coming here and seeing their smiles and their positive attitudes makes you incredibly appreciative and thankful for what you have."
During their trip to the Child Life Zone, the Cowboys interacted with patients by joining them in board games, pool and air hockey. The team also presented children and their families with autographed drawstring bags before taking a group photo.
"When you’re having bad days, you can always look back to this," Davis said. "If these kids can go through what they’re going through and still have a smile on their face, then we can make it through anything we’re going through."
Smith said he felt practices have gone well this week.
"I think practice has gone well. I think he energy is there and I think the players have enjoyed themselves," Smith said. "But like I've said the details are what's important and I think they've been dialed in on it."
As for the Oklahoma State defense, Smith seemed to have a healthy respect for the Cowboys. Washington averaged 30.8 points per game this season and the Cowboys averaged allowing 32.0 points per game this season.
"They are disciplined and athletic and they do a good job of moving their players around up front," the Huskies play caller said. "They have some good players that make a lot of plays up front.
"The secondary has struggled some but they have gotten better as the season has gone on and you can see that with the team even though they ran into some really good teams toward the end of the season. I think they are right there as a good defense and they will create havoc with the things you are trying to do."
So do the Cowboys defensively remind Smith of anybody the Huskies have played? "Arizona State, especially in how they rush the passer," Smith said. "They also get after you some with the blitzes like Arizona State will."
Chris Petersen is 5-2 all-time in bowl games, and while Smith has not been with Petersen for all of his bowl wins, he did give this perspective on why his boss has been so good in post season.
"I don't know exactly but I think the approach doesn't change (from the season) and everything stays consistent and the practices stay consistent. We try to be very detailed and being detail oriented will really help a football team bridge the gap of time off after the season and even the days you take off for the holiday. His plan is good."
Those are all aspects that are similar with Cowboys head coach Mike Gundy, who is 5-3 in his first eight bowl games, and as often mentioned he is 2-0 in bowl games in Arizona.
(Oklahoma State athletic media relations contributed to these notes.)