By Dave Ruthenberg, Sports Editor
Enid News and Eagle
ENID, Okla. —
It’s been one week since Sooners and Cowboys fans learned their respective bowl fates. Hopefully, that’s enough time for the faithful in Norman and Stillwater to realize their bowl gigs aren’t so bad after all. Presumably, at least they’ve walked themselves back from the ledge.
The Sooners’ fans did the most howling last week after learning they were aced out of a BCS bowl when the upstart Northern Illinois Huskies landed at No. 15 in the final BCS rankings to secure a berth in the Orange Bowl. But, with seven days worth of perspective in the rear-view mirror, did OU really get such a bad deal? Hardly.
By heading to Dallas (a very reasonable distance for most OU fans), the Sooners will be playing in the ultimate state-of-the-art facility — Cowboys Stadium — for the Jan. 4 Cotton Bowl. Even better, they will be taking on old rival Texas A&M and its hot-shot freshman quarterback Johnny Manziel, ensuring the game will draw plenty of national attention.
OU already has sold out its allotment of tickets to the Cotton Bowl and a sell-out looks like a near-certainty. The Sooners will have a chance to take it to the Aggies one more time after Texas A&M left the Big 12 with its tail between its legs as it scurried to the SEC in search of bigger bucks and fewer OU beatdowns.
Sure, the $3.6 million payout is less than a BCS bowl payout of $17 million, but the Cotton Bowl has the potential to be one of the top bowl games of the season, providing fans stop griping and get on board, which in all fairness, it appears that is exactly what Sooners fans are doing as OU now is offering standing-room-only tickets to the bowl game.
Meanwhile, folks in Stillwater have expressed a lot of dissatisfaction with their bowl game, which ironically, will also be in Dallas in the Heart of Dallas Bowl on Jan. 1 in Cotton Bowl Stadium
Some OSU faithful have even called on the Cowboys to not go to a bowl rather than lower themselves to the New Year’s Day bowl formerly known as the Ticket City Bowl.
Some complain it is being broadcast on ESPNU, which is not a basic cable channel on most systems. Others have complained they will be facing an inferior Purdue team, while some have derided the bowl’s payout of $1.1 million. Get over it.
Let’s face it, OSU did not have a banner season. Finishing 7-5 hardly gives the Cowboys enough gravitas to look down their noses at a 6-6 Purdue team. Remember, one of those OSU wins came against maybe the worst team in FCS football, a 84-0 blowout of Savannah State.
The Cowboys, who entered the season as defending Big 12 champs, went through three quarterbacks this season and it still remains a bit of a mystery why head coach Mike Gundy was so eager to banish Enid’s Clint Chelf to third-string QB status. Chelf is 2-2 as a starter and leads the team with 12 TD passes.
And there is the question of whether Gundy still will be in Stillwater by the time OSU’s bowl game rolls around.
Gundy reportedly had been in consideration for gigs at Arkansas and Tennessee, which have since been filled. But his reassurances have been less than reassuring, saying things like he “intends” to stay at OSU.
Sideshow aspects aside, OSU versus Purdue could be one of the more entertaining games of the bowl season, with both teams capable of lighting up the scoreboard.
While neither OU nor OSU wound up in BCS bowls, they each found their way into winnable games and we all know winning solves everything. Doesn’t it?
Ruthenberg is sports editor at the News & Eagle. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org