STILLWATER — Leading up to a Thanksgiving weekend Bedlam showdown in Norman, Oklahoma State was still very much in the discussion for a BCS at-large berth.
Eight days later, the Cowboys had fallen to the Heart of Dallas Bowl to face a 6-6 Purdue team on New Year's Day.
Back-to-back losses at Oklahoma and Baylor to end the season certainly contributed to the slide. Still, the Cowboys finished tied for third in the conference standings, and were getting sent to the postseason game with the final Big 12 tie-in.
That means four other bowls — the Buffalo Wild Wings, Holiday, Meineke Car Care of Texas and Pinstripe — that had the option of picking OSU all passed.
How does that happen?
“Obviously, it doesn't matter where you finished in the league,” OSU coach Mike Gundy said.
Gundy's right, of course. Bowl games are not required to select their participants based on the order of how they finish in the conference. Their goal is to create the matchup that sells the most tickets, results in the most fan travel and generates the most local and national interest.
As a result, athletic directors, coaches and other school officials often try to schmooze — or at least talk — their way into certain bowls.
Gundy and OSU athletic director Mike Holder aren't exactly fans of that.
“I think it behooves our conference to look at how we make selections,” Holder said. “It puts the athletic directors and administration in a tough spot. You can't explain it. It would be better off it was straight off your finish.
“If you want a better bowl, win more games.”
Emails obtained by The Oklahoman show that there was at least communication between officials from the Alamo, Buffalo Wild Wings and Holiday Bowls and Holder, OSU director of football operations Mack Butler and other prominent members of the football program.