"I’m seeing signs now that these guys are ready to play the game," Gundy said walking off the practice fields and to the locker rooms at the high school in the center of Tempe.
"We’ve had 12 bowl practices. Their focus is pretty good, but I can tell they want to play the game."
The team and the coaching staff split up Tuesday night for two separate events that both promised good meals. The team went to Don and Charlie's, which is one of America's great steakhouses and sports bars featuring big juicy steaks and some very unique sports memorabilia. The coaching staff went with their wives to the Arizona Biltmore Hotel in Phoenix where they were joined by the Washington coaching staff and their wives for dinner.
Back to the conference affiliations, the Huskies are in the Pac-12 and their league is pleased as they can be that Oregon is in the first College Football Playoffs and playing their semifinal against Florida State in the Rose Bowl.
The Big 12 was left out of the College Football Playoffs, and on Monday was left out of the win column in going 0-3 in their first bowl action. West Virginia was competitive in losing to Texas A&M 45-37 in the Liberty Bowl but Oklahoma and Texas were routed. The Sooners lost 40-6 to Clemson in the Russell Athletic Bowl and Texas was pushed around to the tune of 31-7 by Arkansas of the SEC in the Advocare 100 Texas Bowl.
Gundy is more aware than ever of conference reputation and defending that reputation.
"I told the team two weeks ago that we have a responsibility to each other, to the team, to the school and to the conference," Gundy said. "It’s our responsibility to play well.
"Sometimes, you play well and you might not win. It just depends on the situation. But we do have a responsibility to play well in representing our conference and our school. From a national perspective, the teams that need to play well are TCU and Baylor. We want to play well, and I think we will play well, but if you’re talking about (the College Football Playoffs), the attention from coast to coast will be on Baylor and TCU. When we were here for the Fiesta Bowl (at the end of the 2011 season), I felt a pressure to perform. We were in that national position."
There are four bowl games left involving Big 12 teams and the Cowboys will actually be the last to play. If TCU, Baylor and Kansas State can win their games, and all are stout matchups, then Oklahoma State may be in position to make it a winning postseason for the Big 12.