OSU Enjoying Dallas, Jerry World

ARLINGTON, Texas - After the huge welcome Saturday night it was back to work for both the Oklahoma State Cowboys and Cotton Bowl opponent Ole Miss on Sunday as the two teams took turns speaking to the media and getting through their first practice in the swanky Cowboys Stadium.

First things first, the Cowboys held their only open practice of the Cotton Bowl week on Sunday (Ole Miss will have 20 minutes of open practice on Monday then shut it down), and there were four Cowboys commitments in attendance.

Arlington Bowie teammates defensive tackle Diamonte Wheeler and wide receiver Montra Nelson traveled just down the road to see the stadium and the Cowboys. Houston Cypress Ridge talented wide receiver Kevin Johnson drove up from Houston to check it out, and Rowlett safety Deion Imade also watched from inside Cowboys Stadium.

The players seemed to be having a good time as they set up in the club level seats and watched practice with other onlookers. Those other onlookers included former Cowboys as record-setting running back Gerald Hudson, Vernon Brown, and former wide receiver Brent Parker, who were accompanied by their sons. Hudson and Brown have hardly changed a bit and look like they could still play a little. Parker has added some gray hair. The crew seemed to be having a great time.

Now we're sure fans are curious as to whether Fort Worth Dunbar All-American wide receiver Darius White was at the open practice. The 6-4, 205-pounder was not as he leaves on Tuesday for the Under Armour All-American Game in St. Peterburg, Fla.

White wasn't at practice, but he was at the Cowboys Hyatt Regency Reunion Hotel on Saturday night visiting former Dunbar teammate and current Cowboy Nick Rockwell. Now with this being a dead period there was no conversation between coaches and prospects, even committed ones. All you can do is wave and wink.

The scene was interesting as above both practices the Cowboys Stadium huge video board was showing first NFL highlights and then later the Carolina Panthers smashing the New York Giants. During halftime you could see the huge mug of Fox studio analyst Jimmy Johnson.

It is interesting that in a stadium of a team Johnson once coached (the Dallas Cowboys), two teams will play Saturday in a game Johnson once played in, one of the current teams he once coached including Houston Nutt. Johnson also greatly influenced Mike Gundy by way of his former assistant and Gundy's head coach Pat Jones. Jones will be a special guest of the Cotton Bowl later this week and will attend the game.

"Pat Jones and Jimmy Johnson were tremendous leaders that we learned a lot of football from and I think if you look real closely at Dave Wannstadt and Butch Davis and all the ones under the tree, there are a lot similar characteristics of the coaching philosophy, of playing physical, playing fast, be able to run the football, be able to throw, be able to do both and have good special teams," said Nutt of the coaching lineage. "You know it comes from those guys, They are great, great coaches."

Gundy also recognizes the resemblance in the two teams and has followed Nutt's career closely as they are in the same family tree.

"I have always enjoyed him (Nutt) as a person and his enthusiasm and that has led me to follow his career as he has moved up," said Gundy. "I think there are some similarities to our background.

"I had mentioned this in the Cotton Bowl conference a couple of weeks ago with our connection to Coach (Pat) Jones which goes all the way back to Coach (Jimmy) Johnson and our style of play. They take a lot of pride in running the football, being tough on defense, and having good special teams. That is the path we have taken at Oklahoma State the past several years. He's obviously had a lot of success and we are looking forward to the day on Saturday and competing."

Speaking of the game there is a reporter in Dallas that seems to think that the Ole Miss-Oklahoma State match up is not worthy of the new digs the Cotton Bowl is taking up this year at Cowboys Stadium. However, both teams are happy to be here and remember they shared the regional cover of Sports Illustrated's preseason football issue and while neither team busted into the BCS, they weren't very far off.

"Obviously, we are very excited to be here," said Gundy at the Sunday press conference held just off the field in a room with windows that allowed you to see the field. "We had a great evening last night, opportunity for the players, the coaches, the families, and the children, everybody involved in our program, to experience this great stadium.

"t was somewhat eye opening for everybody. Myself, I was very excited to see it. Everything you hear about it is amazing and it is still mind boggling when you get in here and see it. The video board is amazing. You get a feel for the arena and then walking in here, to think that you walk out of a locker room and walk through a seated sports bar area to go play a game of football is pretty amazing in itself."

Nutt added, "It was very difficult in that that was the first time, Langston (Rogers, Ole Miss Sports Information Director) told me in the last 40 years that were ranked in the top five. It was a little uncharted waters in that before we got here they hadn't won a conference game and so we had a chance to finish strong and we got to the Cotton Bowl and we were able to win that game.

"We had that six-game winning streak and so there was a lot of praise, a lot of pictures in magazines, a lot of accolades and a lot of things we hadn't experienced before in a long, long time in Oxford. It was difficult for us when that first bubble popped for us in Columbia (South Carolina loss)," Nutt added.

"That is where we had to do a good job as coaches, as leaders, as players. There were some tough times because the expectations were so high. Ole Miss is the only team not to get to Atlanta (SEC Championship) and that was one of our goals. There was some doubt creeping in, so we were able to get back and there were some times that we were a very good football team.

"Some times that we were very good, but there was still that inconsistency. The toughest thing for us was when we didn't fulfill those expectations early is to keeping it all managed and bottled up that we have a good team because a lot of guys didn't think we were going to win another conference game at that time."

Gundy believes it is critical that his team not feel any kind of inferiority as if they don't belong. They need to feel strong and ready to conquer.

"I think the attitude and the want to of bowl teams is very important," said the Cowboys head coach. "These guys have enjoyed being around each other for a couple of weeks. I said a couple of weeks ago that it is very important to give them some time off. It was the first time we had ever given our teams two weeks off and I think back on it now and it was the right thing to do because they have prepared well and their attitude is good.

"We still have a week to go with preparation and with all the excitement of the activities with the Cotton Bowl it is important that the players stay focused for two hours a day. Their demeanor has been good, our leadership has been good, and we expect them to prepare well and play a good football game on Saturday."

As for the two quarterbacks, they both feel good. Zac Robinson knows he is leaving. The senior will play his last game as a Cowboy for sure and says he will do it 100 percent healthy. As for Ole Miss, Jevan Snead is playing close to his home in Stephenville, Texas, and as an NFL prospect junior could be playing his final college game.

"I think we did a fairly good job," said Snead of the season of high expectations. "We expected our season to go better and there were some disappointment with some games that we would like to have back. I fele like overall we bounced back from our losses well and every time we lost we came back and played well the next week and I think it speaks well for the character of our team. This is a great bowl and we are certainly excited to be here."

As for Robinson
"You can usually get a pretty good read on guys in practice and through everything our guys have had a good attitude all season long with what has gone on," said the Pokes leader.

"I feel we have been prepared and been up for every game and I think that reflects on the leadership we have in the senior class and that group has brought us to this point. I think the time off worked with the couple of weeks off. I rehabbed both of my injuries and I feel better. With two weeks off we didn't know what to do with ourselves and guys came back really refreshed and ready to practice. I think it worked."

Monday night is fun for both teams at two different Main Event amusement centers in the Dallas area. Curfew for the Cowboys was 2 a.m. Sunday night, however Sunday options in Dallas can be limited. The curfew keeps sliding back all week long.

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