STILLWATER — Mike Gundy stood before the media at his weekly press conference Monday and said he felt uncomfortable politicking that Oklahoma State, the No. 3 team in the Bowl Championship Series standings, deserves to be in the national title game over No. 2 Alabama.
In fact, the Cowboy coach did the exact opposite of politicking.
Gundy is not a voter in this season's USA Today/Coaches poll. But he said if he did fill out a ballot, right now he would put 11-1 Alabama ahead of 10-1 OSU after comparing each team's loss.
“If somebody sat me down and said (I) had to make a decision,” Gundy said, “with where we're at right now, Alabama lost to what would be the No. 1 team in the country (LSU), and Oklahoma State lost to Iowa State.
“In our situation, if I was doing it fair, I don't know how I could put us in front of (Alabama) right now.”
Gundy may not have a say in the USA Today/Coaches poll, but 59 other coaches around the country do, including LSU's Les Miles, Alabama's Nick Saban, No. 4 Stanford's David Shaw and No. 5 Virginia Tech's Frank Beamer. And OSU's place in that poll, along with the Harris Poll, is a key reason for the fairly significant gap between the Crimson Tide (. 955) and Cowboys (. 871) in the BCS standings.
The Cowboys rank fifth in both human polls, behind Stanford and Virginia Tech. Each poll makes up one-third of the BCS formula.
Gundy did not say how he would vote if OSU beats No. 10 Oklahoma on Saturday night, because he's more concerned with preparing his team for that game. If the Cowboys lose to the Sooners, all national title discussions are officially squashed.
But if OSU comes away with the Bedlam win, then those voters must decide if they want to put a greater emphasis on a team's loss, like Gundy, or its wins when they submit their final ballot before bowl selections are made.
The Cowboys have four victories over teams currently ranked in the BCS top 25 (five if it beats OU), while Alabama has two. Virginia Tech and Stanford do not have any, though the Cardinal did beat USC, which is not ranked in the BCS standings because it is ineligible for the postseason but is tied for ninth in The Associated Press poll. Virginia Tech will face No. 20 Clemson in Saturday's ACC title game.
If Gundy was going to try to sway any voters, it would happen after the OU game, he said. But only if someone like OSU athletic director Mike Holder, president Burns Hargis or the media relations staff told him to.
“I'm not saying that I wouldn't (politick),” Gundy said. “…I don't spend much time thinking about it, and so if somebody made me do it, I would probably say something. I would do it uncomfortably. But I wouldn't mention it until after the game, and at that time, it may be too late.
“I just think we need to prepare and do the best we can to win this game, and then move forward from that point on.”
The lack of politicking does not mean Gundy does not believe in his team, of course. He just knows that the decision of which one-loss team will play in New Orleans in Jan. 9 is ultimately out of his hands.
“I think on any given day on any site in the country, that we can play with anybody in the country,” Gundy said. “I don't doubt that for one second.
“If we win this game and we play well, and somebody thinks that it's enough to put us in position to play for (the national title), nobody will be more fired up than I will about it and excited for our players.”