Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Eyes of BCS Are Upon Mack Brown

Coach Mack Brown, how are you gonna vote?

That's the 17 million dollar question that Texas coach Mack Brown might have to answer to. Brown just may end up casting the deciding vote on who gets to play in the Big 12 title game - and by extension, the BCS national championship game.

How? As this has been rehashed many times now: Brown has a vote in the coaches poll whereas Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops does not. The coaches do not have to reveal their ballots next week, but that's when the tiebreaker for the Big 12 South will be decided, via the BCS standings. (We're assuming that Texas, Texas Tech and Oklahoma are going to win as favorites, please stop flooding the Guru about all the other probabilities - I'm WELL AWARE of them.)

If Brown drops Oklahoma from where he had them last week (presumably in the top 5, but he's not telling) to 10th, 20th or even entirely off the ballot ("Oops, did I forget to put OU on the ballot? That must've been an oversight, darn!"), it will have a profound - if not deciding - impact on the BCS title picture.

Based on the Guru's projections - assuming the human voters stay mostly static with their ballots - this is how the BCS standings will look should Alabama defeat Auburn in the Iron Bowl:

1. Alabama, 2. Oklahoma (.940 computer, .9258 overall), 3. Texas (.960 computer, .9209 overall), 4. Florida (.840 computer, .8955 overall).

If Brown leaves Oklahoma off the ballot, OU will end up at .9208 - yep, you guessed it, 1/10,000th of a point behind Texas and voila! Hook 'em Horns to the Big 12 title game! Even if he just nudges the Sooners to 10th, a tiny bit of movement in Texas' favor elsewhere in the polls will do the trick just as well.

You know, like calling to ask a favor from a friend or something. Yes, we're just getting warmed up.

The coaches' poll is such a conflict of interest cesspool, it's amazing how the whole season just might come down to who puts whom where in their ballot. No fewer than seven Big 12 coaches have a vote in the coaches poll, including Brown:

Art Briles (Baylor), Gene Chizik (Iowa State), Dan Hawkins (Colorado), Mike Leach (Texas Tech), Bo Pelini (Nebraska) and Gary Pinkel (Missouri).

Four other coaches with teams in Texas or Oklahoma also vote:

Todd Dodge (North Texas), Todd Graham (Tulsa), Gary Patterson (TCU) and Mike Price (UTEP).

Here's where the intrigue begins. Brown undoubtedly has a few guys on his speed dial if it comes down to the nuclear option Saturday night: Chizik is a former assistant, Dodge is a former Texas quarterback and San Jose State's Dick Tomey was an assistant in between head jobs at Arizona and SJSU and helped Brown win a Rose Bowl in 2005.

But Stoops, who probably now regrets giving up his vote after last season, has a formidable coaching tree and allies himself. Both Leach and Pelini were his assistants, and he can probably count on Steve Spurrier, his former boss at Florida whose own son Steve Jr. tutored under Stoops.

Then there are a few with their own murky agendas: Urban Meyer, whose Florida team is no lock for a top 2 spot even if it wins its final two games, may want to make sure to keep BOTH Texas and OU down. Cal's Jeff Tedford, who no doubt remembers how Brown screwed his Golden Bears out of that 2005 Rose Bowl berth, might decide it's high time to exact a little sweet revenge.

And this is just scratching the surface. I'm sure there are other relationships that run beneath the obvious; and don't forget the Harris poll, whose 114 voters are full of former players, coaches and administrators, whose allegiances run the gamut.

That's why the secret ballot (for both coaches and Harris voters) is a terrible idea. Using the BCS standings to break conference ties is just icing on the crappy cake.

A lot of this intrigue, however, might melt away - at least for this week - if Auburn upsets Alabama. This is how the BCS standings should look if the Tigers take their seventh straight Iron Bowl (again, assuming the ballots stay static - slotting each team one spot higher):

1. Oklahoma (.970 computer, .9625 overall), 2. Texas (.980 computer, .9542 overall), 3. Florida (.890 computer, .9388 overall).

This way, the Sooners will have more of a security blanket against voter shenanigans. And Florida will creep a little closer to the top 2 spot. Of course, this sets up a potential all-Big 12 BCS championship game with a rematch between Oklahoma and Texas.

We'll have to leave that topic for next week. One controversy at a time, please.


Anonymous said...

Looking at the average rankings for each team over the entire 2008 season shows the two best teams to be OK and USC.

All this other BS aside, that's probably the most accurate assessment out there. I certainly wouldnt rank Al, TX or FL over either one of those two teams.

OK has been killing everybody lately and USC has only allowed about an average of 7 or 8 points per game all year long.

AL has been playing twinkies and FL's loss to #27 Mississippi is obviously worse than USC's loss to (Rose Bowl Bound) #17 Oregon State. The SEC after the top two doesn't impress me any more than the PAC 10's eight also-rans, but I doubt AL or FL could run the PAC-10 gauntlet undefeated.

TX is the only one that can even make half an argument that they belong in the same sentence with USC, but I'd bet you dollars to donunts that they couldn't beat OK two out of three.

Here's the real top five as of right now:

Utah/Penn St. (tie)

Anonymous said...

Texas beat Oklahoma when Ok was ranked #1. I've never understood the phase "dollars to donuts" but your opinion is just that, an opinion. The facts are 45-35 at a neutral site when OU was ranked #1 and playing as well as they are now. Note the complete dismissal of the "OU is hotter right now" argument. Since the RRS they have beaten up on Kansas, K-State, A&M, Baylor and Texas Tech. The Tech win was the only one that has any impact at all. OU had a week off to prepare for that game at home. Texas played for 8 weeks straight including one of the toughest 4 game stretches in college football history (ranked teams). USC lost to unranked (at the time) Oregon St. and have played a weak Pac 10 schedule so who really knows what they have. It is not USC's fault the Pac 10 is awful and that doesn't help them but it's true. Florida lost at home to an unranked Mississippi and has since beat up a lot of SEC teams that are not highly ranked either. Your real top five is missing something, it's real BS, or it's real uninformed, or it's real ridiculous. And Al and Florida would beat any of the other nine in the Pac 10. Calling that a gauntlet is a poor choice of adjectives. Cream-puff, Marshmallow, Weak all serve your argument better. That is my opinion, which on a message board carries the same weight as yours, NONE. And while we're on the subject, USC couldn't beat Texas with the greatest team of all time, what makes today different than '05?
Penn ST.

macattack said...

AL is overrated...FL takes that by a lot.

Anonymous said...

"PAC-10 gauntlet"


Sorry man, I wanted to savor that for a minute.

Anonymous said...

Ok is not killing "everybody" lately - they are killing the cream puffs of the Big 12, which like Tech Tech are over-rated. Bringing up the USC team of years ago is not relevant to the current argument. What is relevant, is that Texas may find itself up against USC in the Fiesta Bowl. And, whether FL or AL go to Miami, we'll see if OK can play against a team with defense, and we'll see how Bradford can pass when he doesn't have all day to throw the ball.

Anonymous said...

Whoever even mentions USC is a damn fool. They shouldnt even be in the top ten. Their big win...a 2 loss Ohio State. Give me a break. They are in one of the weakest conferences in THE NATION. Any undefeated, one less, and even most 2 loss teams out of the Big XII or SEC are on a whole other level than USC. USC is terrible.

It's 11:31 and OU still sucks

Anonymous said...

Especially for the last anonomous..
Go where the money goes.
There is not one team in America whom on a neutral field would be favored over USC right now! The line setters in Vegas would favor USC against any team in the nation in any bowl matchup you could offer. It would be foolish to merely discount that team because their conference is on a down year.

Anonymous said...

"Brown screwed the Golden Bears"??

Thought you claim to be "neutral" Guru - but it sounds like you have a clear California bias that is infecting your view of Mack Brown.

Your bias must be clouding reality of the 2004 season. It wasn't Brown who caused Cal to slip a spot. It was a pathetically close win over Southern Miss in the last game of the season that did it in the eyes of the voters.

Just to confirm their CORRECT rankings, the Bears were later humiliated in the Holiday bowl by an average Big 12 team (Texas Tech), and the powerful Longhorns led by VY went on to win the most exciting Rose Bowl in memory. That is until VY came back the following year ....

Everyone knows Texas was the better team that year. Everyone but whiners from California.

Your bias stands out very clearly in the entire premise of your article. Mack has infinitely more integrity than an "award winning" hack such as yourself.