5 Thoughts - The Big 12 South Tie-Breaker

Posted Nov 10, 2008

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?

By Pete Fiutak   

1. If 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 in.

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

By Richard Cirminiello     

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.

Richard Cirminiello   

3. What 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

By Matthew Zemek

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 result.
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 Cheerleaders

By Pete Fiutak   

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 Raiders.

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 site.

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.



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