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Mike Gundy's philosophy on tough nonconference schedules just 'ain't true!'

A meaty nonconference schedule tends to help a team in the long run, win or lose
by Berry Tramel Published: December 5, 2012

College football scheduling has reared its head again, this time with the now-public feud between Mike Gundy and his OSU athletic director, Mike Holder.

Holder has scheduled some decent nonconference games. A just-concluded home-and-home series with Arizona, a 2013 season opener in Houston against Mississippi State, a possible 2014 season in JerryWorld against Florida State.

Gundy prefers an all-rumdum schedule. Three automatic victories.

There are points to both sides.

If you want to pad your won-loss record to enhance bowl prospects, or to build up the bank account by hosting eight home games, bring on the Savannah States. If OSU had played Northern Arizona this season instead of the University of Arizona, the Cowboys would probably be in the Houston bowl instead of the Heart of Malice Bowl.

If you want on a decent television network and build up your national brand, play a team that didn't get its shoulder pads from the surplus store.

But please. No more debate on how a stiff nonconference schedule impedes a team's championship hopes. To quote a coach near and dear to our heart. That Ain't True!

Playing a decent schedule helps, not hurts, a team's rise to the top. Don't believe me? Buckle in:

* In 2011, OSU played Louisiana-Lafayette, Arizona and Tulsa. Not a bad schedule. Too tough, in Gundy's estimation, but the Cowboys rolled in all three games.

OSU was hurt by Arizona's fall. The Wildcats, a bowl team the previous season, stumbled to a 4-8 record. Had Arizona been decent, the 7-5 (regular season) team of 2010 or 2012, it would have enhanced OSU's computer ranking.

Alabama nosed out OSU by .086 in the final BCS rankings. That's a number that doesn't mean anything to a non-mathematician, so let me explain it this way.

If just one voter in each of the two polls (the 59 coach voters and the 115 Harris voters) had moved OSU one slot up, and just one of the two computers (Peter Wolfe and Jeff Sagarin) that had Alabama No. 2 and OSU No. 3 reversed that order, the Cowboys would have been in New Orleans playing LSU.

That's how close was the 2011 BCS. Would beating a good, instead of weak, Arizona team had been enough? I don't know, but maybe.

* Here's a 2012 example. OU played Notre Dame in October. The Sooners lost.

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by Berry Tramel
Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The Oklahoman,...
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