Mack Brown’s confused arguments (updated)

(Update: OK, after a lot of rest and such, I’ve figured out what Mack seems to have been trying to say, and have updated this post accordingly to give him some benefit of the doubt. Now that OU is the 2008 Big 12 South champion, the argument moves to whether the tie-breaker should be changed or next year. I’ll bet it will be, whether it “should” be or not. Updated again to fix an incorrect reference to “Texas Tech” that should have been to “Texas” regarding the SEC tie-breaker.)

I speak all year long, every year, about how valuable Jerry Palm’s CollegeBCS.com subscription site is for people who really love NCAA BCS-division football and want to know what’s going on. It would be cheating to reveal his analysis of what will probably happen later today (I’ll just say you shouldn’t be dejected), but this paragraph from last night says volumes:

Oklahoma has made their case. They beat Oklahoma St 61-41 and now it’s up to the voters. ESPN did all it could for Texas, giving Mack Brown a forum for a lengthy campaign speech in the second half. Kirk Herbstreit also stumped for them. We’ll see how much influence ESPN has.

The “lengthy campaign speech” came with 5:08 left in the third quarter of last night’s game, and if you have the game recorded, you can return to that spot and see if my transcript of what Mack Brown said is fair or not. The problem with Brown’s “campaigning” is that I cannot characterize his “arguments” as better than confused, and maybe as far as dishonest.

As we all know by now (can you believe that message here has been read more than 1700 times?), the BCS ranking today is the fifth-level tiebreaker for a divisional tie in the Big 12 Conference. It gets to that point because the first four levels of tie-breaker don’t resolve the issue at all. ESPN’s Kirk Herbstreit (whose man-love for Colt McCoy is starting to creep me out, honestly) asked Brown what he thought of using the BCS rankings as a fifth-level tie-breaker, with no one involved apparently realizing that the old Big 8 tie-breaker was the ranking in one of the plain old polls of the day:

Kirk—number one: it’s three really good football teams, with Texas, Oklahoma, and Texas Tech, and somebody’s gonna be really disappointed tomorrow. There’ll be two teams that probably deserve to play in a championship that won’t get there. But it seems to me like, after looking at the SEC rule for a tie-breaker and the ACC rule for a tie-breaker, it’s pretty simple that if Oklahoma State wins, Tech would be in head-to-head with us, and since Tech is not in the mix if Oklahoma wins because it’s two highly-rated teams, we should be in head-to-head if Oklahoma wins tonight, regardless of the score.

OK. Putting aside the ridiculous notion that any three teams “deserve” a single spot for a championship (does Mack Brown think the NCAA basketball tournament unfair because the “best teams” sometimes lose their early round games?), Brown has pulled a colossal bait-and-switch on Herbstreit, who either doesn’t know or doesn’t care. Both of those conferences decided, as a matter of conference policy, that head-to-head records among the tied teams would be the first tie-breaker even in cases of three or more tied teams. The Big 12 chose this for two tied teams, but does not consider it at all if there are three or more teams tied. That’s because it makes no sense—you can only have a 3-way or greater tie if all the teams involved lost to each other in a round-robin fashion.

Brent Musberger had the same problem during last night’s broadcast, repeatedly saying he was “uncomfortable” with using BCS rankings as a tie-breaker. We’ll need to go back and check the Big 12 Charter and look for the part where keeping Musberger comfortable is listed as a conference priority. Besides, as you can see in the links we added above, both the SEC and ACC use BCS rankings as a very late tie-breaker as well. Does that make him uncomfortable?

Musberger didn’t seem to realize that the Big 12 chose its own tie-breaker rules, and that they weren’t imposed by the BCS or something. He even had ESPN’s stats people run the numbers to see who would win a tie-breaker if it was point differential against common opponents, and noted that OU would win it. He said he didn’t understand why that couldn’t be the rule, but if that’s true, it’s just a spectacular failure of imagination. Such a rule would encourage, if not require, good teams to run up the score against weaker conference opponents in case it was needed in a tie-breaker.

Anyway, back to Mack. There’s no evidence that he was ever, ever concerned about this in the 10-12 years this has been the rule, at least until his Longhorns lost to Texas Tech four weeks ago. And if OSU had won last night, such rules would have resolved the tie in favor of Texas Tech anyway. But since OU won last night, and all three tied teams lost to each other in round-robin fashion, it would not come into play at all even if the rule had been adopted!

Mack’s quick verbal slight said “Tech is not in the mix if Oklahoma wins because it’s two highly-rated teams,” but that’s the real bait-and-switch, and Herbstreit didn’t notice. Mack is apparently referring to the very last SEC three-way tie-breaking rule:

The tied team with the highest ranking in the Bowl Championship Series Standings following the last weekend of regular-season games shall be the divisional representative in the SEC Championship Game, unless the second of the tied teams is ranked within five-or-fewer places of the highest ranked tied team. In this case, the head-to-head results of the top two ranked tied teams shall determine the representative in the SEC Championship Game.

Did you catch that? In the penultimate BCS rankings on Sunday, Oklahoma finished #2, Texas #3, and Texas Tech #7. Under SEC rules, since Texas is “ranked within five-or-fewer places of the highest ranking tied team,” Tech would get tossed out of the tie and the winner would be the head-to-head winner of the Texas-OU game.

Isn’t it amazing how Mack has suddenly found religion for tie-breaking rules that would, in this one case only, decide it in his favor by throwing out the lowest-ranked team—the one that beat his team? That the BCS rankings should be used to throw out the lowest-ranked team but not to reward the highest-ranked team? Quite a tightrope he’s walking there!

So, in short, Mack Brown is saying that if the rules were different than what he’s always known that they are, Texas would and should win a tie-breaker by throwing out Tech’s equally impressive record. But it’s trivially easy to argue that you should win if the rules were different. The trick of competition, Mack, is to win with the rules as they are.

Musberger then asked Brown how he felt about Texas still being in the BCS National Championship hunt even if OU plays next week for the Big 12 championship, and here Mack kind of went off the rails again:

There’s no doubt. I do think the Big 12 will revisit this rule next spring, because head-to-head—if we talk about playoffs all the time, when you play head-to-head and it doesn’t count, it’s really hard to act like playoffs would make a difference. Our kids have played great. They are in the mix. You guys saw the Texas-Oklahoma game. It was a classic, but it was on a neutral field and we won the game! That’s where I would be coming from. Oklahoma’s a great team. And I think it’d be hard to try to explain to our kids next week why Missouri and Oklahoma are playing when we beat both of them.

First, head-to-head does count, or OU wouldn’t have a loss and be in the three-way tie. Second, do any of you have this vague memory (as do I) of Mack Brown arguing in 2003 or 2004 that Texas deserved a BCS berth even though his team lost the OU-Texas game?

But more importantly to me is that last sentence. The University of Texas is a major institution of higher learning with distinguished faculty and alumni throughout the world, including in communications. Walter Cronkite is a Texas alum, which is why he narrates the university’s PSA during conference games. The tie-breaker rules have been published forever, and are quite easy to understand.

If Mack really thinks it’s “hard” to explain why his team’s loss to Texas Tech means they might not play for the Big 12 championship (especially when one team in the championship was always going to be a North division team, whether Texas beat them or not), I think the University of Texas really needs to look at its continuing education program for tenured faculty like Professor Brown. It’s neither difficult to explain nor understand. If you want a clear path to the championship game, win all your games. Texas didn’t (nor did OU), and so we have resolution based on other factors.

See? And I’m not a tenured professor of anything, anywhere.

To wrap it up, Herbstreit asked Brown how it felt not to have any control over the process going forward—an odd question, since ESPN’s repeated choices on Thursday through Saturday to give massive ABC airtime to Brown to campaign for his case meant he had a lot more “control” than others involved did. Brown said:

I think the only thing that can come out of this good, Kirk, because, again, there’ll be two good teams not go[ing], is that hopefully everybody will revisit this system and not have kids not be able to get someplace when they’ve accomplished what they needed to on the field.

Well, again, no. “What they needed to [accomplish] on the field” was beating Texas Tech, and they didn’t do it. If they did, Brown’s statement would make sense. But they didn’t, so they’re in this situation. The subtext to Mack Brown’s argument is that OU shouldn’t be allowed to play for the Big 12 championship because Texas beat OU. Let’s be nice and presume that he doesn’t extend this to its logical conclusion, that a 2-9 Texas team (beating only OU and Missouri) deserves to play for the Big 12 championship because “we beat both of them,” and say that he really means that Texas deserves to go because Texas beat OU and has the same record as OU.

But that’s not what the rules say, and Brown knew that at the beginning of the season. His team did not “accomplishe what it needed to on the field” or he wouldn’t have to make such twisted arguments for the Longhorns.

There’s also this entire “neutral field” argument that doesn’t withstand scrutiny. He said in earlier interviews that he’d love to have played Texas Tech in Austin, implying that OU couldn’t have won that game in Lubbock. But Texas hosted OSU on October 25 and won by just four points, 28-24. OU played OSU in Stillwater and won by 20 points, 61-41. Why should anyone give credence to the “neutral field” argument when Texas won by a smaller margin at home against a ranked opponent than OU did at that same opponent’s home field?

I transcribed this to be sure I had it right—my impressions of Brown’s arguments from listening to them last night were that they were a lot more dishonest than I’ve presented them here. I think upon further listening that he probably meant to express the opinion that the Big 12 should use head-to-head tie-breakers even in 3-way or bigger ties, and I think that’s valid—but again, it would make absolutely no difference today. It would only have made a difference had Mack gotten his “magic tie-breaker” that dumps Tech from the mix for being lower ranked, but then ignoring that Texas is ranked lower than OU.

That’s the kind of argument that we would tend to think reflected poorly on the entire school if they came from someone speaking for the University of Oklahoma. And make no mistake, this disappoints me—I think everyone should make their best case, but I don’t think you should have to resort to sophistry to do it.

Brown and ESPN’s campaign paid major dividends in the ESPN (Coaches) poll, where OU’s lead dropped from 43 points to one point. But as Jerry Palm put it:

Texas won over voters this week and pulled virtually even in the polls. The Longhorns’ six point lead in the Harris poll is just slightly better than the Sooners’ one-point margin with the coaches’. But the BCS is designed to turn to the computers where there is no clear consensus among the voters, and those came up big for OU.

In particular, it appears that the fact that Oklahoma beat a quality opponent on the road was a big factor. The two ratings where the Sooners made their biggest move were Sagarin and Wolfe, the two that consider game location. Oklahoma passed Texas in both.

ESPN has responded by launching cowardly on-the-air attacks at Palm, falsely saying he participates in the polls (he does not), or that he runs one of the computer rankings (he does not, and has been quite vocal in opposition to the closed, unverifiable nature of five of the six computer rankings). They’re not going to let this go.

Happy Thanksgiving! Then: SUIT UP!

It’s a phrase you hear in far too many Sooner seasons: It all comes down to this. It was true Saturday night in Norman, and it’s true again Saturday night in Stillwater.

I really haven’t experienced anything quite like last Saturday Night at Owen Field. I remember saying this ahead of time:

Texas Tech is favored to win the game, but I can’t help but remember what huge favorites the Longhorns were going into the 2000 OU-Texas game. No one seemed to think OU’s defense could stand up to the Texas attack. Then something…happened.

I can’t do better than this description from the Crimson And Cream Machine:

I’ve been attending Oklahoma football games since 1985 and I can honestly say that I don’t remember having ever seen a home crowd like the one we had Saturday nigh for the Texas Tech game. Bob Stoops threw down the gauntlet earlier in the week and the fans rose to the challenge.

The crowd of 86,646 (a record at crowd at OU) came early, stayed late and made constant noise. There is no way you’ll ever convince me that the Red Raiders weren’t rattled. Don’t believe me? Check out the looks on Mike Leach’s and Graham Harrell’s faces when the crowd took a moment to “Jump Around.”

I was in The Pride in 1985, and I never saw anything quite like it, either. It wasn’t like the OU-Nebraska game eight years ago, where the fans stormed the field afterward—but the crowd energy was tangible. You could feel it. After the game, the players came over to the band and the other student sections, and climbed on the walls, thanked the fans, took laps around the stadium—I’ve seen that at Big 12 championships, or bowl games, but never at a home game. I can’t find anyone else who remembers anything like that at a home game, either.

Something…happened.

And now the regular season ends Saturday night in Stillwater, in Bedlam, but not (if forecasters are right) in Ice Bowl II. The Sooners need to win to stay in the Big 12 South (and, more distantly, the BCS National Championship) race. It would help if Texas A&M wins on Thanksgiving night, but because of the odd ways the tie-breakers work, if Texas wins on Thursday night, we need Texas Tech to bounce back at home and beat Baylor on Saturday afternoon.

If all three teams win (not including OSU, since obviously OSU and OU can’t both win, and OSU can’t win the division no matter what happens now), the division title goes to the team with the highest BCS ranking on Sunday afternoon. In this scenario, OU significantly narrows its gap behind Texas in the computers by beating #11 OSU, but neither Texas nor Tech does all that well by beating unranked teams.

According to the invaluable Jerry Palm, assuming that the poll vote numbers stay exactly the same, OU needs to jump one rank in three of the four computer rankings that could help (there are six BCS computers, but the formula throws out the high and low scores for each team from the six, so only four of them count), OU would pass Texas in the computers and take the #2 spot in the rankings. Texas needs to expand its lead in the polls, or needs Florida State to beat Florida, because that might give the Longhorns more points in the polls since Florida is between OU and Texas in the Coaches’ poll.

So, if you’re a Sooner Purist, this weekend, in addition to rooting for OU, you’re rooting for Texas A&M, Texas Tech, and Florida. I’m not sure if an Alabama loss would give Texas more points than Oklahoma in the polls, but it would complicate the situation even further.

As for The Pride, I take it as a compliment that clips of them in last year’s Macy’s® Thanksgiving Day Parade dominate NBC’s commercials for this year’s parade, but they’re all at home resting this year, as we hope you are too. The band’s public schedule for Saturday is now on our Events calendar, and they’ll be wearing those all-red uniforms—debuted just a year ago in the Macy’s Parade—to Stillwater for the very first time.

And it all comes down to this: 7:00 PM CST on ABC in high-definition, broadcast from coast to coast. Put on your red and white and prepare to shout until you lose your voice!

Sighting: Chris Neal

Pride alumnus (both as a marcher and grad student) Chris Neal is getting some attention as director of the marching band at McMurry University, says the Abilene Reporter News:

McMurry University’s marching band is featured in national publication Halftime Magazine in an article about marching programs at small colleges.

The article chronicles band director Chris Neal’s time at the school, along with the experiences of other small college band directors in the state. The story says that Neal worked with the 300-member Pride of Oklahoma Marching Band for several years, including writing the drill for the band’s 2001 National Championship show at the Orange Bowl, before coming to McMurry.

The Abilene band is a something of a contrast—Neal’s original roster had 29 names on it, the article says.

But the band, which now has 75 members, is a study in the importance of individual contribution, an important success factor, Neal said.

And it is growing. More than one in every 20 students at McMurry participates in the band, including 10 percent of the school’s freshman class.

The story from the paper also has a link to the full article in Halftime Magazine, but we’re sending you there to give the paper a little love for bringing it to our attention. Congrats, Chris!

Play It Forward: Symphonic Music on Monday!

On Monday, November 24, the OU Band Department presents the final symphonic wind concerts of the 2008 Fall Semester, in a Sutton Series concert at 8:00 PM in the Paul F. Sharp Concert Hall at Catlett Music Center.

The concert, entitled “Play It Forward,” features music ranging “from the historic sounds of Sousa and Rossini to the panoramic ensemble colors of today.

The Symphony Band, directed by Mr. Jeff Jahnke and Mr. Brian Britt, performs Rossini’s 1843 Scherzo for Band, Malcom Arnold’s 1950 classic English Dances for Band, Set 1, John Mackey’s 2008 work Undertow, and Sousa’s march of international cooperation, the 1899 Hands Across the Sea. (It is, I believe, the only Sousa march where the Bass Clarinet has “melody” all the way through the piece. Don’t ask me why I remember this.)

The Wind Symphony performs Mackey’s 2007 two-movement work Kingfishers Catch Fire (it’s about the bird, not about burning down the town) with guest conductor Debra Traficante, and Joseph Turrin’s 2006 work Introduction to Act II and Interlude from “The Scarecrow” with guest conductor Danh Pham. Dr. William Wakefield is joined by Dr. Eldon Matlick, horn faculty at OU, for the first movement of James Beckel’s 1997 The Glass Bead Game: Concerto for Horn and Wind Ensemble, entitled The Call and Awakening. The concert concludes with David Maslanka’s two-movement 2005 “Short Symphony for Wind Ensemble,” Give Us This Day.

Tickets are $8 for adults; $5 for students, faculty, staff, or senior citizens. Buy them at the door, or from the Catlett Music Center box office; call F.A.C.T.S. at (405) 325-4101 for more information. If you can’t make it (and we sure hope you can—these contemporary pieces exhibit rich tonal colors and orchestration that’s not what you might expect from a Concert Band), the concert is scheduled to be streamed live from the OU School of Music Web site. Check it out on Monday at 8:00 PM if you’re not in Sharp Hall!

Final home game: 7:00 PM on ESPN

They’re already touting it as the “Game of the Century” for this Saturday in Norman, but haven’t we already had one or two of those in Norman this decade already? I vividly remember when #1 Nebraska came to play #3 Oklahoma in October 2000—”Red October”—and it was the loudest day I’ve ever experienced in Oklahoma Memorial Stadium. It was easily the loudest thing I’ve ever heard, and I’ve been in enclosed rooms with the drumline.

And that game kicked off at 11:00 AM. ESPN College Gameday was in town, and the entire atmosphere was crazy. This time, of course, it’ll be completely different. #1 Texas Tech comes to play #5 Oklahoma with the Big 12 South title (and potential national championship game slot) on the line, ESPN College Gameday will be in town, but kickoff is at 7:00 PM. Completely different.

(Did I mention that since that Nebraska game, they’ve added about 10,000 seats to the stadium? No? Well, maybe it’s going to be a little bit crazy too.)

The Pride will perform for College Gameday in the morning, and then it’s going to be one wild Senior Day for those members who are on the brink of joining us as OU Band Alumni. The rehearsal and concert schedule are on our Events calendar if you want to come show support for this final home performance of the 2008 season, too. If not, put on your reds and whites and get in front of a good HDTV with ESPN at 7:00 PM, because this may be a game for the current Pride members like that “Red October” game of 2000.

Texas Tech is favored to win the game, but I can’t help but remember what huge favorites the Longhorns were going into the 2000 OU-Texas game. No one seemed to think OU’s defense could stand up to the Texas attack. Then something…happened.

If there’s one rule for Sooner Football, it’s “don’t rule anything out.” We hope to see you there!

[UPDATED] Final 2008 Home Game in prime time!

Congrats to our Pride of Oklahoma for keeping the energy at Kyle Field high during Saturday afternoon’s game—at least for the fans in red (instead of maroon). With the Sooners’ road win over Texas A&M, they rise to #5 in the BCS, and take the next week off before meeting two top-ten teams to close out the season.

We know today that the final home game against #2-ranked Texas Tech will start at 7:00 PM on Saturday, November 22. The Pride‘s full schedule is already updated on our Events calendar if you can come out to see the seniors, who are about to join us as Pride Alumni (always a bittersweet time).

Update: Well, I take it back. ESPN College Gameday is coming to Norman on November 22, and that likely means Pride participation as it has in the past. That means the rehearsal will be moved back to the morning hours, but we don’t have the final schedule yet. I’ve removed the rehearsal stuff from the Events calendar and will update it again when we have final times. ESPN! Things are getting big, folks!

Since Texas Tech defeated OSU in Lubbock on Saturday, they still control their own destiny for both the Big 12 and BCS National Championships. OSU is now out of the conference title picture, at least without a major miracle. If OU wins out and Texas Tech loses only to OU, the three-way conference tie might resolve in favor of the Sooners, because the division title goes to the team with the highest BCS ranking in the November 30 release.

However, Texas is currently two spots ahead of Oklahoma, and there’s no promise that two high-quality wins for the Sooners would push them ahead of Texas in the rankings. Jerry Palm of CollegeBCS.com thinks the Sooners would win that tie-breaker “because they have more of a chance to make a favorable impression on voters than Texas does,” but there are no guarantees.

If OU wins out and Texas loses one of its last two games, to either Kansas or Texas A&M, then OU wins the Big 12 South and plays for the championship, probably against Missouri. (Missouri clinches the Big 12 North this weekend if they win or if Kansas loses to Texas. Unless both of those things don’t happen, Missouri wins the division.)

Penn State’s loss drops them out of national title consideration, but it’s a bit of a problem for our friend Betty Wiseman and her Michigan State Spartans. As Jerry Palm put it, “If Penn State entered [the Michigan State-Penn State] game with the Nittany Lions undefeated, that game would have been for the Big Ten title. Now, MSU needs someone to beat Ohio State.” (He actually said “Spartans undefeated,” but he meant Penn State.)

Too much football yet to play! BOOMER SOONER!

Seven drum majors for one Alumni Band

2008 Drum Majors: Seven former drum majors of The Pride of Oklahoma, gathered together at Homecoming 2008 to lead the OU Alumni Band. Pictured, from left to right: David Westgate 1965-66, Mel Penn 1969-72, Kyle Wiemar 2004-05, Clint Williams 2002-03, Chauvin Aaron 2007, Larry Cannon 1975, Herb Moring 1969

Seven former drum majors of The Pride of Oklahoma, gathered together at Homecoming 2008 to lead the OU Alumni Band. Pictured, from left to right:

David Westgate 1965-66, Mel Penn 1969-72, Kyle Wiemar 2004-05, Clint Williams 2002-03, Chauvin Aaron 2007, Larry Cannon 1975, Herb Moring 1969

OU at Texas A&M at 2:30 PM CST on Saturday

The full Pride of Oklahoma heads to College Station, TX, for the regionally televised matchup of our BCS #6 Sooners and the Texas A&M Aggies. (If the BCS rankings were extended to ranks teams that didn’t votes in either of the polls, and going only by the computer rankings, the 4-5 Aggies would come in at #64 out of the 120 “Bowl Championship Division” NCAA teams, according to CollegeBCS.com.)

Although my own DVR lists ABC as carrying Penn State vs. Iowa at 2:30 PM on Saturday (from KOCO in Oklahoma City), ABC and ESPN insist that everyone in Oklahoma, Texas, Colorado, Kansas, and most of New Mexico, Arkansas, Missouri, Nebraska, and Montana will see OU vs. Texas A&M. The southeastern seaboard will see Clemson at Florida State in HD, and the rest of the country gets Penn State at Iowa in HD. And yes, that means the OU game is not in high-definition this week. When ABC has three regional games simultaneously, one of them is not in HD. This week, it’s OU. Check out the ESPN regional coverage maps for exact details.

The Pride will be at the game, and a pep band heads down early to perform at the rally organized by the OU Club of Houston. Details about that rally (and links to the OU Club of Houston’s Web page about it) may be found on our Events calendar. There’s a lot of Big 12 football happening in the next four weeks, and no one knows how it’s going to end up yet, but we’re still in the hunt! BOOMER SOONER!

Berry Tramel stands in voting line with Dr. Wakefield

Berry’s been on a band roll the past few weeks. Today’s entry, from The Oklahoman‘s blogs:

I went back Monday morning to vote early, but again, no time to wait. I returned Monday evening and this time plunged in. I took a spot in line about 5:15 p.m. in front of Danny’s TV on Main Street.

My wait was about 75 minutes, and I can’t remember when I had a better time.

I stood in line with William Wakefield, director of OU bands. We chatted for almost an hour before he introduced himself, but we had the most wonderful conversation.

We talked football and New York City and marching bands and Oklahoma life. Here’s what I learned: Remember that great Pride of Oklahoma tradition, where the band members dress up in costume for a halftime show around Halloween? They don’t do it anymore because too many people complain about certain costumes, and trying to regulate what 400 musicians might wear onto the field is too cumbersome a task. Oh well.

It’s a different world than 1985. The clarinet squad dressed as Coke products would, today, probably generate a letter demanding licensing fees for the use of the trademarks. (That’s not an attack on delicious Coca-Cola—just an example of how the world has change.)

If you didn’t stand in line with Berry Tramel or Dr. Wakefield, or any other line, then get out and vote! All those years of playing the National Anthem should have sunk in by now, but just in case you need a reminder: VOTE!

A tie-breaker designed by accountants

The Big 12 South has four teams in the hunt, all of them ranked in the BCS Top 10! Only Texas Tech is currently undefeated; Texas, OU, and OSU each have one loss. While Tech is in the driver’s seat, it’s still possible for any of those four teams to win the division and play for the conference championship on December 6.

Here’s how I run the numbers for all four teams, starting with OU (because, let’s face it, don’t we always? :-): )

  • Oklahoma probably wins the Big 12 South if OU wins out and if Texas Tech beats OSU. If OSU beats Texas Tech, OU is in a bad position: the Sooners have to win out to stay in the hunt, but with Tech out of the picture, the division probably comes down to a two-way tie between Texas and OU. Texas wins that tie-breaker because the Longhorns won the Red River Rivalry.

    If OSU beats Texas Tech, the Sooners kind of need Texas to lose one of its last three games. The Longhorns’ last three opponents are Baylor, Kansas, and Texas A&M.

    If it comes down to a three-way tie as outlined previously (but with Texas Tech replacing OSU in the scenario), the team with the highest BCS ranking wins. In that scenario, OU would have the last victory of the three, but I wouldn’t bet money that such would mean OU comes out ahead of Texas in the penultimate BCS rankings. It’s a crap-shoot. OU probably wins the division in that case, but it might just as easily go to Texas.

  • Texas Tech wins the Big 12 South if they win out. The Red Raiders have a BCS handicap because they played against two Football Championship Series (FCS, formerly “Division I-AA”) teams this season, and those victories do not count in the BCS formula. As of this writing, despite being 9-0, Texas Tech is not BCS-eligible because they don’t have nine Bowl Championship Series (I-A) wins.

    The Red Raiders’ last three opponents are OSU (at home), OU (in Norman), and Baylor (at home). If they lose two of those games, they need Texas to lose one more game to create another three-way tiebreaker. Going way way out on a limb and imagining that Tech might lose to both OU and OSU (an idea that our friends in Lubbock would strenuously protest), then they’re probably out of luck: Texas beat OSU, so if OU beats OSU, Tech falls out of the tie-breaker. Even if OSU defeats OU, that resolves a three-way tie in Texas’s favor without dropping to a two-way tie. If Texas Tech can tolerate one loss, it would be to OU. Losing to OSU or Baylor, teams that Texas has either already or is likely to beat, would probably keep the Red Raiders away from the Big 12 championship game.

  • Texas can win the Big 12 South, but only if the Longhorns win out and Texas Tech loses at least one game. Sometimes the BCS rankings don’t reflect the winners of head-to-head matchups, but this time they do, at least for now: Texas with one loss is ranked ahead of OU with one loss, even though Texas’s loss is fresher. Of the four teams leading the Big 12 South, only Tech is undefeated. Texas has a decent argument for the tie-breaker by having beaten both OU and OSU, but it’s not a given.

    But if Texas loses a game, then the Longhorns need the other teams in the hunt to have two losses as well. Any team that has two losses while others have only one is out of the hunt.

  • Oklahoma State could win the Big 12 South, but only with a lot of help. The Cowboys are the lowest-ranked of the four teams still in the division race, even though three of the four have the same one-loss record (except for undefeated Tech). If OSU wins out, the three-way tie between between OSU, Texas Tech, and Texas would likely toss out the Cowboys unless they somehow leap Texas in the BCS rankings. If OSU loses one more game, they’ll need the other three teams to have two conference losses as well, and even then they’d likely fall out of the race.

    If Texas Tech defeats OSU on Saturday, the Cowboys best shot is if OU beats Tech on November 22 (handing the Red Raiders a second conference loss), Texas to lose to Texas A&M on the last weekend of the season, and OSU to defeat OU on November 29. But even in that case, with the top four teams having two conference losses each, Texas and Texas Tech would have both beaten OSU, and that likely kicks the Cowboys out of the four-way tiebreaker. The Cowboys’ clearest path to the Big 12 title game is to win out and make a strong argument to poll voters that they should be ranked higher than Texas, despite losing to the Longhorns in October.