5 Thoughts - The Big 12 South Tie-Breaker
If Texas, Texas Tech and Oklahoma all finish with one-loss, who deserves to be playing for the Big 12 South title? The greatness of Brian Kelly and the potential major mess this bowl season in the latest 5 Thoughts.
5 Thoughts ... Nov. 10
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What Time Is The Bowl?
What Time Can You Show Up?
you thought you hated the bowl season before, just wait
until you see what you’re in for over when all the dust
settles in early December.
As many as six bowls, the Poinsettia, Texas, Music City,
PapaJohns.com, Hawaii, and Independence Bowl, might have
to scramble for the best at-large team possible, and
why? A few of the major conferences aren’t going to come
remotely close to filling out all of their bowl slots.
The SEC will be the biggest culprit. Two SECers are
certain to be in the BCS, likely leaving three open SEC
bowl spots. The hope for the bowls will be for
Vanderbilt to finally get off that five-win bump, but
it’s unlikely to happen at Kentucky or against Tennessee,
as bad as the Vols might be right now. Auburn’s probably
going to be stuck on five wins with Georgia and Alabama
to close, and Arkansas needs to beat both Mississippi
State in Starkville, as well as LSU, to be bowl
eligible. That’s not going to happen.
The Pac 10 will be almost as big a problem, and it won’t
have the excuse of putting two teams into the BCS
(unless Oregon State wins out against Cal, at Arizona
and Oregon). Arizona State going 3-6 hasn’t helped,
Stanford will need to pull off an upset against USC or
at Cal to be eligible, and UCLA isn’t going to be alive
in the chase.
The Big 12 will likely leave two bowl spots open with
Colorado and Texas A&M, two teams that appeared headed
for six wins, needing to pull off shockers to be
eligible. The Buffs will have to beat either Oklahoma
State or Nebraska at Nebraska, while Texas A&M will have
to win at both Baylor and Texas.
What does this all mean, really?
Get ready to see an infiltration of MAC teams in the
bowls. The Sun Belt will be certain to get two teams
into the bowls, and there might be a third. The Big Ten
won’t have teams like Michigan or Purdue available, the
ACC will likely leave Clemson at home, and the Big East
will do what it can to fill in as many blanks as
possible. And that leads to the other major bowl story
that’s going to kick in … ticket sales.
The biggest or the big bowls always sell out, but the
midlevel to minor bowls, even if a local interest is
available, has a nightmare of a time putting bodies in
the seats as is, and now there’s this little old
economic crisis that’s kicking everyone’s butt. America
will have a hard enough time buying princess and power
ranger crap for the kids this Christmas, much less the
extra disposable income to go see 7-5 XYZ State play a
meaningless game on the other side of the country.
Right now, the Hawaii Bowl officials are praying for the
Warriors to be bowl eligible. They’re not getting a Pac
10 team as is, and if Hawaii isn’t in, there will be
exactly five people at the game. And that leads to the
other problem: will the teams accept the bowl bids?
At best, schools break even when it comes to bowl games,
but that’s rare. Mediocre teams going to lousy bowl
games lose their shirts when they have to eat the
tickets they don’t sell to their fan bases that don’t
travel. Schools like to use bowl games to reward the
band, top boosters, and other VIPs, but that’s not going
to happen for a lot of schools. Expect the bowls to do
whatever possible to keep the local teams within range
and not demand a massive influx of fans who have to fly
Remember, bowls are bowls, not a playoff. This should be
a fun time to see the best games and best matchups
possible, but instead, we're all going to see everyone
who didn't have a losing record. Yippee.
And Don't Forget That Pro Gig To Be Open On The Other Side Of Town
2. A note to any athletic
director looking for a new head coach in the
offseason: Give a long, hard look at Kelly. For you
larger schools with deep pockets, that’s Brian
Kelly, the current Cincinnati coach. For you smaller
schools, that’s Chip Kelly, the offensive
coordinator at Oregon.
On Saturday, Kelly’s Bearcats surprised West
Virginia, 26-23, to create a three-way tie atop the
Big East. Cincinnati controls its own destiny for
earning a BCS bowl berth, an incredible development
considering how badly the school has been besieged
by injuries at quarterback this fall. He’s won
wherever he’s been, has a proven offensive system,
and is hailed as an outstanding tutor of
quarterbacks. In just two short years, Kelly might
be on the brink of outgrowing the Queen City.
Although he has no southern ties, Tennessee and
Auburn, if Tommy Tuberville doesn’t survive, should
have his name on the short list. Or he might just
sit tight and wait to see if Penn State has an
opening in the near future.
The other Kelly, Chip, has also endured a spate of
problems at quarterback, yet is still the architect
of a high-powered attack that’s No. 12 nationally in
scoring and No. 13 in total offense. He attacks at
all times and stretches defenses, causing fits for
opposing coordinators wherever he’s been. A native
of New Hampshire and a former coach at the state
university, he’s got deep ties in the Northeast that
could benefit a program, like Syracuse, that’s
pining for a young offensive innovator and a fresh
infusion of energy.
As the coaching carousel begins to spin a little
faster in November, you might want to remember the
names Kelly and Kelly. Both Brian and Chip are
already bucking for promotions after just two
seasons in Cincinnati and Oregon, respectively.
Screw it. OU vs. Texas
Would Be Fun.
happens in the Big 12 South if Oklahoma beats Texas Tech
in Norman two weeks from now?
If the Sooners can extend their home winning streak to
25 games, Judge Mills Lane will be needed to separate
Oklahoma, Texas Tech, and Texas in a divisional race
that’ll have a ripple effect all the way to Miami.
Assuming there are no upsets in the final weekend of the
regular season, we could be headed to one of the most
important and granular tiebreaker scenarios in recent
history. According to Big 12 rules, the first four
tiebreakers will not be enough to declare a winner. No.
5 will. And that’s when things get rather interesting.
The fifth rule calls for the BCS rankings to determine a
divisional champ. Now what? The three teams could have
almost identical resumes, including a loss against one
of the other contenders. Does Oklahoma get a bump for
finishing the year with wins over Texas Tech and
Oklahoma State? If so, how can they possible be ranked
ahead of Texas, which beat the Sooners, 45-35, in
Dallas? Do the Red Raiders automatically get dismissed
by the voters because they don’t have as rich a
tradition and weren’t supposed to be here? Texas
probably has the inside track, but only by a narrow
margin. The ‘Horns will be rooting hard for the Sooners
in less than two weeks. So should anyone else who’ll
enjoy a one-for-the-ages debate over which program is
most deserving of a Big 12 South Division crown.
And Then Watch As Missouri Makes It All Moot
4. As a diehard opponent of
the BCS, I'm now rooting for just one thing.
Florida beating Bama would be nice, but as long as Oklahoma turns
back Texas Tech on Nov. 22 in Norman, we'll have another tainted
title tilt in college football.
It's really simple to understand. If Oklahoma does beat the Red
Raiders before holding off Oklahoma State in the Bedlam Series, the
Big 12 South will have three 11-1 teams, barring the improbable.
You go ahead and tell me how to fairly decide the Big 12 South
champion under those circumstances. Texas will have beaten Oklahoma.
OU will have beaten Tech. Tech will have beaten Texas. These three
titans will all own impressive records and awesome resumes in
college football's toughest division, not to mention its best
conference. But because primacy should be (rightly) given to
conference champions, we're essentially going to have a mini-BCS
scenario if the Longhorns, Sooners and Red Raiders all end up at
11-1. The team that has the highest BCS ranking will almost surely
head to Miami to take on the Florida-Alabama winner (and that
Gator-Tide situation deserves its own dose of attention; I
digress...), but it only reinforces the fact that the BCS
system--and everything involved in it--is painfully yet obviously
arbitrary. A system that tries to create the appearance of
objectivity is bereft of that very attribute. The BCS is just as
political and unscientific as previous postseason plans, no matter
what the microchips might suggest.
It's impossible to deny: If OU beats Tech and we see this three-car
crash at 11-1, we're going to have a BCS title game participant
punch a plane ticket to Miami on the basis of a pure technicality.
John Swofford, the latest BCS train wreck is comin' around the bend.
You're naturally going to insist that the BCS system is in a state
of perfect health, but that stubborn line of argumentation will only
make you all the more clueless, and that much less of a leader, as a
The emperor still has no clothes. As a result, two 11-1 teams in the
Big 12 South will be rightfully ticked on Sunday, Nov. 30, when BCS
standings will determine who plays Missouri in the Big 12
Championship Game for a spot in South Beach on Jan. 8.
The Big 12 Tie-Breaker: The Hottest
Let me settle this Big 12 South tie-breaker mess for everyone before it
even happens, if it happens. Remember, this is all moot if Texas Tech
beats Oklahoma and/or if Oklahoma State picks off the Sooners or the Red
Assuming Oklahoma beats Texas Tech
and the Sooners, Red Raiders and Longhorns finish with one loss, the
tie-breaker will go to the BCS rankings. Super. So the Big 12 title will
probably be chosen by voters who have seen each team play once or twice,
if that. So to help the voters who decide two-thirds of the BCS, this is
how you need to look at the tie-breaker: who won where?
Along with strength of schedule, home field advantage needs to be a part
of the overall mix far more than it is. Winning a game on the road
deserves more love than winning one at home, and close losses on the
road should be viewed differently than losing at home or at a neutral
Therefore, if Texas Tech loses to Oklahoma, that will mean the Sooners'
part of the tie-breaker is based on a home win, while the loss (to
Texas) will have happened at a neutral site. They didn't play a true
road game in the tie-breaker mix, so, theoretically, they had the
easiest path of the three teams.
Texas Tech will have lost to OU on the road, and the win will have come
to Texas in the final seconds at home.
And then there's Texas. The loss in the equation came on the greatest
play in the history of Texas Tech football on the road in Lubbock. The
win came at a neutral site, beating Oklahoma in Dallas. Therefore,
Texas, didn't have a home game in the mix and ended up having the
hardest path of the three in the three-game round-robin tournament.
I still think Oklahoma is off to play for the national title if it wins
out, but by who deserves to be playing for the Big 12 title, go
with 1. Texas, 2. Texas Tech, 3. Oklahoma. Or else just hold a
rock-paper-scissors playoff and you'll probably have the right answer.