It's been nearly a week since Oklahoma State found itself left out of the national championship game by mere thousandths of a point.
And the bitterness continues.
Just not from the Cowboys.
Even though OSU fans are still riled up about the whole thing — click on a message board or a comment section, and the anti-BCS, anti-Alabama, anti-ESPN venom is obvious — the Cowboys themselves have taken a different path.
The high road.
From those disappointing moments after the final BCS ranking were announced until now, the Cowboys have been nothing but gracious. They've never bashed the BCS. They've never cried foul. They've even, of all things, praised this whack-a-doo system.
“We ... believe in the system,” Cowboy coach Mike Gundy said Sunday evening on ESPN only moments after the final rankings were announced. “For whatever reason, we came up a little bit short.”
The BCS hater in me wishes every coach would bash the system every chance he got.
But in truth, the Cowboys have done themselves good by taking the high road.
It started even before Gundy's post-selection comments. When Reece Davis revealed that OSU was No. 3, the players gathered to watch ESPN's selection show didn't groan. Didn't object. Didn't holler.
There was only silence.
Now, I'm not saying there wasn't a message in their silence. This is a program going to its first ever BCS bowl. This is a team that has reached never-before-seen heights. Finishing third in the BCS and going to the Fiesta Bowl is worth celebrating.
The fact that the Cowboys sat silently was a sign of their disappointment.
A classy sign.
The Cowboys have never evoked the tragic events of the day of the Iowa State loss either. The plane crash that killed OSU women's basketball coaches Kurt Budke and Miranda Serna weighed on the football team. No two ways around that. Many football players regularly attend women's basketball games, so they knew the coaches. Many are also close with the women's basketball players, so at the very least, they were concerned about their friends.
The Cowboys had to feel added pressure to beat the Cyclones, not just to keep their national title hopes alive but to give the Cowboy Nation something to feel good about, even if for a moment on that horrible day.
Still, neither a coach nor a player has ever played that card.
Another classy sign.
That modus operandi has continued in these days after the BCS announcement. There have been no outrageous tweets from players, no crazy statements from coaches.
Yes, they were disappointed, but they never let that emotion get the best of them.
Unlike Chris Petersen.
The Boise State coach lashed out at the BCS during a press conference Monday.
“The whole thing needs to be changed, there's no question about it,” he said. “Everybody is just very tired of the BCS. I think that's the bottom line. Everybody is frustrated. Everybody doesn't really know what to do anymore. It doesn't make sense to anybody. I don't think anybody is happy anywhere.”
If those sound like the frustrated words of an aggravated man, well, that's because they are and he is.
Four times in the past eight years, Petersen's team has finished the regular season ranked in the top 10 only to be denied a BCS bowl. The latest snub sent a pair of two-loss teams, Virginia Tech (No. 11) and Michigan (No. 13), to the Sugar Bowl while one-loss Boise (No. 7) went to the Las Vegas Bowl.
Apparently, this was the last straw.
Petersen has not slammed the BCS before when the Broncos had been left out, but this week, he let the system have it.
“It just seems like each year,” he said, “it's getting further and further away from anybody understanding what's going on.”
Who knows? Gundy and the Cowboys might've reacted just like Pedersen had they been in the Broncos' shoes, left out time and again.
Heck, the coaches and the players have every right to be angry. I suspect most of them were Sunday night as they listed to those talking heads on ESPN saying how much better and how much more deserving Alabama was than OSU.
Who wouldn't get fired up by that?
But as representatives of the school and the program, the Cowboys have to differentiate between what they feel and what they say. They might want to blast the BCS to smithereens, but that does no good.
Truth is, that might actually hurt. Even if what they're saying is honest and thoughtful, it comes off as whining and complaining.
Just look at Petersen.
He's always been thought of as a good guy, a stand-up coach. But now, after just one press conference, he's being called out. Colin Cowherd, for one, ripped the coach on his ESPN radio show.
(Take it for what it's worth, of course, since Cowherd's paychecks say ESPN.)
Petersen and his Broncos now have a blemish.
Not so for Gundy and his Cowboys.
They handled this as well as could be imagined. They swallowed a bitter pill but refused to let it sour their words.
They rose above it on the high road.