"I know they say adversity builds character," said Johnston. "I disagree with that. I believe that adversity shows character. We've spent the last two days with these two teams and we have seen a lot of that."
Both head coaches paid homage to former Oklahoma State head coach Pat Jones, who was in attendance. Nutt played for Jones when he was an assistant then Jones gave him his first full time coaching job. Gundy also got his first full time coaching job from Jones after he quarterbacked two of Jones' 10-win seasons at Oklahoma State.
Andrew Lewis was honored as the Cotton Bowl scholar athlete from OSU receiving a Waterford crystal football. Fullback Andy Hartman received the award for Mississippi.
In what has become a Cotton Bowl Big Play Luncheon tradition, the two quarterbacks fired football from the stage to an attendee that had their name drawn to win a souvenir game ball. OSU's Zac Robinson threw an approximate 50-yard strike to his winner. Mississippi's Jevan Snead was on the mark on a 30-yard toss but it went through the hands of the attendee/winner.
It is a helmet, shoulder pads, and short session that runs through all special teams, all of the offensive game plan, and all of the defensive options. It really covers just about everything you can possibly see in the game.
The practice covered just over an hour and a half. The Cowboys have an 11 p.m. curfew Thursday, and will enjoy a caracature night and party at the team hotel. The team also enjoys a Mexican buffet this evening.
"We practiced in there with the big screen going every day," said Ole Miss head coach Houston Nutt. "So it kind of got us out of looking up all the time. It has been just fabulous. It has been awesome – a different atmosphere. I think it has helped that every single day we have been able to go into that stadium."
"I'll agree with what Coach (Nutt) is saying, I don't think there's any question that if we didn't have the opportunity to practice in there, if we just showed up and played it could be a little different," answered Gundy.
"I still believe that once the game gets going, coaches, players, everybody they tune in to the game and what's happening on the field. It's very different and very fascinating. I think if you just showed up and played the game it could be a little distracting."
Gundy also said the problem some teams have had with the position of the play clock, low and to the side on each end would not be a problem for his quarterback.
Young, 63, has coached in the NFL and high school ranks in addition to his vast experience at the college level. He was born in Hereford, Texas, and grew up in Oklahoma City revering the Cotton Bowl as a New Year's tradition.
"I've been to the Rose, the Orange, but I had never been to the Cotton Bowl," Young said. "I'm excited about it."
A list of the bowls Young has coached in, and the schools he coached for at the time:
2010 - AT&T Cotton Bowl Classic (Oklahoma State)
2008 - Emerald Bowl (Miami)
2008 - Orange Bowl (Kansas)
2005 - Fort Worth Bowl (Kansas)
2003 - Tangerine Bowl (Kansas)
1998 - Sun Bowl (Southern California)
1996 - Citrus Bowl (Ohio State)
1995 - Citrus Bowl (Ohio State)
1993 - Holiday Bowl (Ohio State)
1992 - Hall of Fame Bowl (Ohio State)
1991 - Liberty Bowl (Ohio State)
1990 - Hall of Fame Bowl (Ohio State)
1989 - Blue/Grey Bowl
1988 - Freedom Bowl (Arizona State)
1987 - Rose Bowl (Arizona State)
1985 - Holiday Bowl (Arizona State)
1976 - Tangerine Bowl (Oklahoma State)