DALLAS — Mike Gundy's vacation in Florida was interrupted Thursday when text messages flooded his phone about Oklahoma State being picked to win the Big 12 in the conference's preseason media poll for the first time in school history.
How do outsiders like the Cowboys now? Looks like they believe in the program Gundy and Co. have built.
“I know that it won't have any effect on our season,” Gundy said of the preseason crown. “But I do think it means a lot to Oklahoma State that people feel comfortable in saying that we're good enough to have the opportunity to win a conference championship.”
Of course, the Cowboys were only a slight favorite in a seemingly wide-open league, particularly because of mass departure of elite quarterbacks. Six teams earned at least one first-place vote, while just 28 points separated OSU (365) and fourth-place Texas (337).
Yet that might make the Cowboys' position that much more impressive.
In a tossup poll, a name brand like Texas could have been the expected pick, especially with David Ash returning at quarterback. And especially with a large contingent of voters based in that state.
Instead, the voters went with OSU. To Gundy, that shows the perception of his program has changed; that the Cowboys have gained widespread notoriety after posting a 49-16 record over the past five seasons.
“(I'm most proud of) people consider us to be in that group,” Gundy said. “That's not really ever happened. We've had some good teams the four or five years and nobody ever thought that.”
Kansas State coach Bill Snyder has watched OSU rise gradually, even comparing the progress to his first tenure in Manhattan.
“It's not like Las Vegas that just exploded out of the sand one day,” Snyder said. “It's just very, very gradual. And, consequently, unnoticeable for the most part and nobody makes a big deal out of it.
“I kind of think Oklahoma State has done exactly that. They've just built and built, gotten a little better, a little better, a little better through a period of time. To me, there's more concrete and foundation when you do it that way.”
K-State receiver Tyler Lockett, a Tulsa Washington product, highlights the Cowboys' upgraded facilities as a primary reason for their development into consistent contender in the Big 12. Texas Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury, who played against OSU as the Red Raiders' quarterback from 1998-2002, attributes the success to consistent coaching, particularly when it comes to the Cowboys' explosive spread offense.