I don’t know what the head coach’s drink of choice is (Coors Light is my guess) but someone needs to find out and get one in his hand. The head coach needs to be loose and uninhibited and he needs to be everywhere. TV, radio, YouTube, going door-to-door, I don’t care. He needs to be vocal about his team. He needs to sway opinions. He needs to pour on the pressure and turn up the heat. Yes, there are still games to be won but the public relations war has already started. Mike Gundy needs to be on the front lines. Right now he needs to be Oklahoma State’s Patton.
You see, there’s not actually a College Football Playoff, it’s an invitational tournament. If you aren’t one of the cool kids you can’t rely on logic or reason or fairness to get you invited. What you do doesn’t matter so much as what the popular folk does. A team like Oklahoma State doesn’t get in the door by going 12-1 and winning the Big 12. They get in by doing that and having enough of the Big Brands screw up enough the Playoff Committee can’t move the goalposts far enough to kick them through.
Oklahoma State’s Case
If OSU manages to run the table and win the Big 12 it would require beating a top 10 Oklahoma and then either beating them again or a top 10 Baylor team in the Big 12 Championship Game. A 12-1 Power 5 champ should get in, especially with the Pokes résumé and the PAC 12 and the ACC not being factors this season.
If you watched games at all on Saturday you saw that Oklahoma State plays elite defense, probably best in the country after Georgia, but you also heard the narrative start to form: “They play great defense but they just don’t score enough.”
I do give credit to Tim Brando and Spencer Tillman who called the OSU/TTU game on Fox and spent a lot of the game talking about how silly the system is and how it’s rigged for the big guys but basically every halftime show of every game all day dismissed the Cowboys chances.
It makes perfect sense to have the champions of the Big 12 and the Big 10 in the playoff with either Georgia or Alabama from the SEC and then either Cincinnati or Norte Dame. The undefeated G5 team or 11-1 independent who lost to said G5 team will be argued about a lot, but what they really want is to sneak another SEC team in there. If Alabama beats Georgia they are both in. If Georgia beats Alabama in a close game they will do everything they can to make a case for a two-loss Alabama over a one-loss Big 12 Champion Oklahoma State. It’s all because of the brand, the helmet logos. A one-loss Oklahoma would get in over a two-loss Alabama because “they’re Oklahoma!”
That shouldn’t matter but we all know it does which brings me back to my original point:
It’s time to release the Gundy.
Gundy The Promoter
Gundy is a natural showman and promoter and is enough of a wildcard people nationally pay attention to him. He needs to start now with the promotional tour. He needs to go on any national or regional radio show, podcast, broadcast, puppet show, children’s show, whatever he can find that will have him and state his case.
“Yeah we struggled to start the season but we were missing our starting QB for a game, starting offensive linemen for multiple games, and played a whole game with one scholarship wideout.”
“We’re playing the best defense in the country unless your Georgia and even then it’s close.”
“Quite frankly it’s ridiculous that we got left out in 2011 and the story is always we don’t play enough defense and my guys are holding teams to 150 yards and not allowing a touchdown for four games and you’re telling me we don’t SCORE enough now!”
“If we win our conference at 12-1 and get left out for a two-loss non-champ they should just go back to computers picking everything.”
Basically, just say all the things out loud that most of all the other teams that aren’t part of the Big Brand club say quietly to each other all the time. Repeat all those message board talking points out in the open air. Make an ESPN anchor tell you why Alabama deserves it more than you or why an Oklahoma in the same situation or a Norte Dame gets in with a worse résumé and not your guys.
They don’t want to admit it’s about money. They don’t want to admit it’s about getting eyeballs on screens. They want to keep up the illusion that it’s about getting the best teams in there, the teams that earned it, the teams that deserve it.
Gundy with all his charm and swag needs to try to get the public on his side. Get those fans of the teams that get slighted all the time riled up. Make it a public debate for the next two weeks. The Playoff Committee doesn’t want to lose any of its power and the quickest way for that to happen is for the public to start to think it’s unfair and demand change. It’s already happening with the push to expand and have automatic bids for conferences. Another big catalyst could tip the scales. Don’t forget that Oklahoma State getting left out of the 2011 title game for an Alabama team that didn’t even win its division is what was finally caused enough outcry for the flawed BCS to get tossed and brought us the College Football Playoff.
Gundy can be mesmerizing when he’s on and if he goes all out in the press he could maybe sway public opinion enough for the committee to play fair instead of favoring the good ol’ boys. In the long run, it could help more than just his team. The Baylor’s, Utah’s, North Carolina’s, and about 120 other teams would love for the door to open up for the teams that have a great year occasionally and not just for the guys with all the advantages every year.
So let’s all go down to the corner store and pick up a six-pack for the man with the mullet and pitch in for a plane ticket to Bristol. Let’s get him on the air and let him make his pitch for not just his team but for all the “little brothers” out there that don’t really have a chance to win it all. Not because they aren’t good enough, but because they didn’t happen to be good at football 70 years ago.