OSU football: Mike Gundy makes like Walter Mondale
During his acceptance speech at the 1984 Democratic National Convention, presidential nominee Walter Mondale famously said, “Let’s tell the truth. It must be done, it must be done. Mr. Reagan will raise taxes, and so will I. He won’t tell you. I just did.”
Mondale’s honesty was refreshing. A few months later, Americans went to the polls. Mondale carried one state, his own, and even Minnesota was won by only 3,800 votes.
Monday, OSU football coach Mike Gundy went all Walter Mondale. He foolishly told the truth. Gundy said that while he doesn’t have a vote in the coaches poll, if he did, he would this week rank Alabama ahead of his own Oklahoma State Cowboys, because Bama’s loss (to No. 1-ranked LSU) is a much better loss than OSU’s loss (at Iowa State).
Not wise. OSU doesn’t have much of a chance to jump Alabama in the BCS rankings, even with a Bedlam victory Saturday night, but the Cowboys have no chance without some voters switching to OSU. And Gundy was off point. He shouldn’t be talking about worst loss; he should be talking about best victories. The Cowboys have more good wins than does Alabama, but lots of people nationally only want to talk about the defeat. And Gundy did the same. He said he would rank Bama ahead because of the better loss; what was left unsaid but very clear is that no matter what happens in Bedlam, Bama still will have the better loss.
It was a mistake. Gundy said he doesn’t like to politick, that it’s not his style, which is admirable, but he ended up politicking for Alabama.
Sure, coaches politicking, one way or another, has little effect. Except Mack Brown’s carping in 2004 lifted the Longhorns past California from No. 5 to No. 4 and a Rose Bowl berth. And full-scale politicking by everyone in the SEC, notably Florida coach Urban Meyer, lifted the Gators into the national title game at the expense of Michigan. Voters decided they didn’t want an Ohio State-Michigan rematch, just as voters this year could decide they won’t want an Alabama-LSU rematch.
But if OSU’s own coach isn’t passionate about spouting the Cowboys’ cause, the voters on the fence can’t be asked to jump on board, either.
Gundy said if one of his superiors, athletic director Mike Holder or president Burns Hargis, asked him to be more forceful in promoting the Cowboys, he would. More likely, benefactor Boone Pickens called Gundy on Monday and told him to get with the program.
A fellow writer with no real dog in the OSU-Bama fight, texted me after hearing what Gundy said. “What the HELL was Gundy thinking?”
It was likely the result of a coach still learning. Gundy is in his seventh year as OSU’s head coach and has done a heck of a job. But this is the first time Gundy has had to deal with BCS ramifications. He’ll learn.
Gundy doesn’t claim to know much about the BCS process or BCS politics, and he’s probably telling it straight. At one point Monday, Gundy said he in the past has voted in the USA Today poll but wasn’t sure what that was. It’s the same coaches poll as used in the BCS process. I just don’t think Gundy pays attention to things like this. Maybe he will now.
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