5 Thoughts - Cleaning Up The Big 12's Mess
Does Oklahoma really have a legitimate case to be in the Big 12 title game over Texas? Should Texas play for the national title if Missouri beats the Sooners? Who should be the coach of the year, and stumping for Boise State over Ohio State in this week's 5 Thoughts.
5 Thoughts ... Dec. 1
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Part One: 45-35
(a.k.a. Eh, screw it. Put in USC.)
can spin it, massage it, and lobby it any way you want,
but there’s one simple reality involved in the Big 12
South debate: Oklahoma doesn’t really have a case.
(Before you fire off that angry e-mail, full disclosure,
the fan in me is actually happy about how this shook
out. For fun's sake, I really do want a Florida –
Oklahoma national title, even if it offends my sense of
justice. One other item of note, by the CFN Season
Rankings, our formula that’s all about the strength of
schedule, Oklahoma wins this debate by a HUGE margin
thanks to the wins over TCU and Cincinnati.)
Had the situation been reversed, we would’ve had the
mother of all hissy fits on our hands. Bob Stoops
would’ve gone ballistic … ballistic. You wouldn’t
be able to get him off the TV because he’d be screaming
and lobbying to anyone who’d listen, and everyone who
wouldn’t. Politicians would’ve gotten involved, just
like they did in the embarrassing aftermath following
the 2006 instant replay controversy at Oregon, and you’d
hear screaming and yelling all across Oklahoma about how
the Sooners beat the two teams playing in the Big 12
Instead, OU has to hide behind the weak, “well, you have
to count Texas Tech” argument, which has nothing to do
with the Texas vs. Oklahoma debate. The one thing Stoops
is going by is that his team throttled Tech, but when
asked to give the pro-Texas argument, he started out by
mentioning that the Longhorns beat his team head-to-head
... done. Over. Texas beat Oklahoma. Texas beat
Oklahoma. Texas … beat … Oklahoma. If you want to make
this a Texas Tech over Texas debate, let’s roll, but if
this is just about Oklahoma and Texas right now, which
it is, then it’s over.
If you still want to bring up the Texas Tech side, then
at least use your head and be rational about this. It
took a dropped interception with 11 seconds to play, and
the greatest pass play in the history of Red Raider
football, to beat the Longhorns with one second to play.
Remember, that was in Lubbock. (You know, the place
where Oklahoma lost last year.) That was worse than
losing by ten on a neutral field? Also remember that in
the three-team equation, Texas didn't get a home game.
So what’s the answer, point differential? So what if a
team tacked on a garbage time touchdown or two? Oklahoma
is better than Texas because it scored 61 on Oklahoma
State rather than 54? If that’s the case being made,
then why not go by the Kansas game? Oklahoma beat KU by
14 at home, and Texas won in Lawrence by 28. Why not go
by Texas A&M? OU beat the Aggies by 38, and Texas beat
them by 40. You can’t do it because it’s silly. You
don’t need to go by a third standard when you have one
iron-clad tie-breaker when we’re breaking down two teams
So really, what is the answer? In a case like this,
bring in the Big 12 athletic directors and commission to
make a ruling. If you're going to use opinions for the
tie-breaker, use the people in the know rather than
coaches and Harris types who don't know the difference
between a Joe Ganz and a Robert Griffin.
No, Oklahoma isn’t playing better than Texas right now
(remember, defense and special teams are part of the
game, too); Texas has won its last three games 129 to
37. Yes, Oklahoma's offense is putting up ungodly stats,
but that's partly because it has to thanks to its
mediocre defense. No, it isn’t a given that Oklahoma
would beat Texas in a rematch. And yes, sadly, the
season is now tainted.
In the end, Texas beat Oklahoma on a neutral field. All
the bells, all the whistles, and all the 60 point
performances can’t change that Texas was the better team
on that day on the field. If you’re arguing for
anything else, and if you’re going to debate me on this,
then you already know what the answer is.
Part Two: 39-33
(a.k.a. Eh, screw it. Put in Utah.)
Alright, now let’s take this one step further. What
if Missouri beats Oklahoma in the Big 12 title game?
Texas will go off to the BCS championship, sliding
up from the No. 3 spot, because bleeding hearts like
me who bitched and moaned about how the system
screwed things up will be heard just enough to make
it acceptable for a Longhorn – SEC Champion national
championship, even if UT didn’t win its own
division. After all, Texas lost out because of an
opinion, while Georgia last year and Michigan two
years ago lost out on the field. However, Texas
playing for the national title wouldn’t make any
more sense than Oklahoma playing in this year’s Big
12 title game.
If Oklahoma loses to Missouri, then there will be a
real, live, clear-cut tie-breaker that doesn’t exist
now between the three teams in question. If OU
loses, then it’s a pure two-team argument and not a
theoretical three-team discussion: Texas Tech wins,
and there’s no debate.
If you’re going to accept the premise that the Big
12 screwed up by using the BCS rankings to break a
tie, then you have put aside your memory of the
65-21 Tech loss at Oklahoma and go by what actually
happened on the field. Should Texas Tech play for
the national title if Missouri beats OU? I don’t
think so, I’ll probably argue for Utah or even Penn
State, at least as far as the deserve factor, but in
a two-team battle, Texas shouldn’t be in the BCS
Championship any more than Georgia of last year
because of the head-to-head, 39-33 loss in Lubbock.
The only way Texas should be allowed to play for the
title is if Oklahoma beats Missouri in a close game.
The uglier, the better for Longhorn purposes.
Considering the way Texas blew away the Tigers 56-31
in a game that wasn’t really even that close, then
the voters might consider moving Texas higher in the
rankings. As I’ve mentioned before, the computer
formulas still have to take into account the whole
season and could change around at the end meaning
the gap could close there, too.
No matter what happens, there will almost certainly
be a “yeah, but” attached to this season in some
Rodriguez couldn't make his system work, why?
Paul Johnson was hired to replace Chan Gailey a year
ago, he was reminded that beating Georgia, which hadn’t
happened since 2000, needed to be near the top of his
to-do list in Atlanta. Johnson knew it. Heck, he’d spent
the last few seasons coaching in Annapolis, so the
importance of a rivalry game didn’t escape him.
On Saturday, the rookie head coach engineered a
statement upset of Georgia that will resonate throughout
the state, especially during recruiting time. Hey, the
Dawgs still have the edge in these parts, but the Yellow
Jackets’ 45-42 victory in Athens sent a resounding
message that the pendulum has slowly begun to shift. For
teenagers in the region, going to Georgia Tech no longer
means choosing a Plan B, especially if you’re a
multi-dimensional quarterback or a bruising B-back. The
other truth coming out of Atlanta is that you can win in
the ACC—or the SEC—by running the option. Over the last
two weeks, the Yellow Jackets have gashed Miami and
Georgia, a pair of pretty good defenses, for 881 yards
rushing and 86 points. Oh, and also two important wins
that could be launching points into the bowl season and
When Coach of the Year discussions pop up, Johnson’s
name gets drowned out by the likes of Nick Saban, Mike
Leach, Joe Paterno, and others. Too bad. He’s done a
marvelous job of inheriting less-than-ideal players for
his system, and quickly molding them into a dynamite
ground game and a nine-win team. There’s finally some
life back in the Georgia-Georgia Tech rivalry, thanks
largely to the arrival of Paul Johnson to the Yellow
seen the last two BCS Championships? (Part one)
understand what motivates bowl games and the committees
that run them. Sexy match-ups. No empty seats. Plump
television ratings. Like all of us, the balance sheet
cannot be ignored by bowl games, which also have bills
to pay. Yet, despite being armed with all of that
knowledge and a glimpse of what’s likely to
happen seven days from now, I’ll still spend the next
week imploring the bowls to step up and make the right
decision when it comes to the last true opening among
the at-large berths. In other words, do the
unconventional and select 12-0 Boise State over 10-2
Yeah, Ohio State brings instant recognition and a bigger
fan base, but it’ll also bring a couple of losses and a
vanilla program that’s been dressed down in its last two
BCS bowl games. Boise State is not your typical
mid-major, having given the sport one of its most
memorable bowl moments ever in the 2007 Fiesta Bowl.
Wouldn’t it be fun to see if they could do it again
against another national powerhouse, like Texas. Or
better yet, how about Boise State versus Utah in the
only postseason game pairing a couple of unbeatens.
Tickets will still sell. Viewers will still tune in.
Honest, if you didn’t get your degree in Columbus,
wouldn’t you much rather see the Broncos try to knock
off the No. 3 ‘Horns rather than the Buckeyes get
rewarded for a two-loss season?
Boise State is ranked higher than Ohio State in the BCS
rankings. The Broncos are one of just four schools
without a loss this season. Their win at Oregon is more
impressive than anything on the Buckeyes’ 2008 resume.
They’ve earned the right to play in one of the five BCS
bowl games, even though Utah has already locked down a
seat at the table. Now, all it’s going to take is one
bold committee willing to, er, buck the trend, and
extend an invite to the more deserving school. Trust me,
you’ll be rewarded with a ton of positive
publicity from parts well outside of Idaho for such a
You did see the 2007 Fiesta Bowl, right?
5. Now that Oregon State has
lost and given someone else a chance to step into a BCS bowl, it's
time to plead for justice in the college football world.
Fiesta Bowl honchos and Sugar Bowl execs, you need to work together
to do the horsetrading necessary to satisfy both the little guy and
the appetites of the fans who will fill your ballparks, University
of Phoenix Stadium and the Louisiana Superdome, in early January.
First, put Boise State in over Ohio State for the last remaining
Second, have Boise State and Utah play in each of your bowls,
instead of putting the two teams together in the Fiesta.
The first decision is more important than the second one. A team
that goes 12-0, even in the WAC, deserves special consideration for
a premium postseason prize. A 10-2 year is a fine year, and the
Capital One Bowl (against Georgia) represents a reasonably
high-paying bowl for Jim Tressel's Buckeyes, who should relish the
chance to play an SEC team and gain some respect for the Big Ten.
Ohio residents should have a great time flying down to Orlando. It's
not a bad destination for that program.
Boise State might come from a lightweight conference--no one can
deny how brutally Georgia destroyed Hawaii last year--but the
Broncos, after all, are the team that delivered the goods in a BCS
bowl, justifying the decision to expand the BCS bowl pool in the
first place. If any of the "little guys" in FBS competition deserve
a nod in the still very much politicized and tourism-driven world of
the bowls, it's Boise State. And if the Broncos get bucked by the
SEC runner-up or the Big 12 runner-up, then the WAC will have to go
to the back of the line in future years when its unbeaten champion
is being considered for a showcase game. For now, Boise State
deserves the benefit of the doubt.
On point number two, it's almost as important (not quite, but
almost) for Utah to play someone other than Boise State. The Utes,
after all, were rightfully steamed when, at the end of the 2004
regular season, Urban Meyer's ballclub drew a weak Pittsburgh
Panther squad for the 2005 Fiesta Bowl. When America wanted Utah to
play Auburn in a super showdown (while USC and Oklahoma battled for
that year's controversial national title), the Fiesta Bowl failed to
serve the interests of its paying customers in Salt Lake City. This
year, Utah--back in the BCS derby--deserves to play a name school.
Coach Kyle Whittingham will privately fume if his team has to play
Boise State, and not a Big 12 or SEC team, in Glendale (or, perhaps,
It's up to you, John Junker (Fiesta Bowl godfather). The ball's in
your court, Paul Hoolahan (Sugar Bowl CEO).
Do the right thing. As the BCS system itself proves--along with the
horrible (non-)leadership of college football's university
presidents and conference commissioners--the right thing isn't
usually done in this sport.