MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Perhaps Mike Gundy was stunned from the final shocking seconds of Oklahoma State’s Bedlam buckle.
In the final USA Today coaches poll of the regular season, Gundy voted OSU ahead of Oklahoma—doing so less than 24 hours after the Sooners (10-2) beat the Cowboys (10-2) in Stillwater 33-24. He ranked his team 10th and the Sooners 12th though they had identical conference records
Gundy’s reasoning seemed dubious, as told to The Oklahoman on on Sunday:
“I just try to take into account the season in general and not one or two games and come up with the best formula that I think works,” said Gundy, adding that he weights teams based on magin-of-victory against bowl-eligible teams.
We only know how Gundy voted because coaches bowed to media pressure in recent years and began divulging their final ballots. It was much-needed transparency, to be sure—and it revealed some other curious voting patterns from Big 12 coaches.
Baylor’s Art Briles, for instance, went homer haywire on his ballot, ranking Big Ten champion Michigan State (12-1) at No. 8, behind three Big 12 schools (No. 4 Baylor, No. 6 Oklahoma State and No. 7 Oklahoma). You can’t begrudge Briles placing his league-champion Bears that high, but his love for the two-loss Cowboys and the Sooners is misguided, even if they did play slightly tougher schedules than Sparty.
Dana Holgorsen’s ballot was noteworthy in that he favored a Florida State-Michigan State championship game instead of the FSU-Auburn matchup the BCS delivered. Holgorsen ranked the Spartans No. 2, one spot ahead of the SEC-champion Tigers.
Kliff Kingsbury voted Baylor third and dropped Michigan State to fifth, behind two-loss Pac-10 champ Stanford. Kingsbury also voted Alabama No. 6, the lowest of any coach in the poll.
See how all the coaches—including Marshall’s Doc Holliday and Arizona’s Rich Rodriguez—voted here.
The fact the coaches poll won’t directly factor into the next year’s selection criteria is a welcomed change. Over the years we saw numerous examples of coaches showing home-conference favoritism, and many coaches on the panel rotation have or had sizable contract bonuses attached to their postseason destinations. As deeply as these men know the game, their week-to-week tunnel vision toward the next opponent made it impossible to watch games coast to coast.