Much has been made leading up to the BCS Bowls about the possibility of a split National Championship in college football this season.
The Texas Longhorns feel jilted because they didn't get a chance to play for the Big 12 title and likely for the National Championship as the Sooners do. And certainly, the Longhorns have a legitimate argument to be playing for it all.
But since the Longhorns are not in the BCS title game on Thursday, the question is now simply this: Does Texas have an argument for earning a split national championship?
Here are my for and against arguments for the Longhorns:
1. Texas arguably played the toughest schedule in college football this year. They beat four teams ranked 11th or higher, including the #1 Sooners in October. Their only loss was to the #6 ranked Red Raiders and that was on the last play of the game.
2. Texas beat an improved Ohio State team although many people are questioning this Longhorns victory, recalling that USC beat the Buckeyes badly in August. What they are forgetting is that Beanie Wells was injured and did not play in that game. However, on Monday night, he accounted for large part of the Buckeye offense. Terrelle Pryor was in only his third collegiate game as a true freshman and not yet a starter when he faced USC. By the Fiesta Bowl, he was starting and had 12 games of experience.
Simply put, Texas beat a better Ohio State team than USC did.
3. Texas beat Oklahoma, who will play in the BCS Title game on Thursday, in a head to head match. If the Sooners beat Florida, Texas has a right to claim "45-35" should mean something. They would be the only team to knock off the Sooners this year and it wasn’t when Oklahoma was struggling. The Sooners were ranked #1 at the time.
4. A split National Championship would continue the splintering of the BCS system. Each year a playoff gains more supporters and another split championship would likely continue that trend. Eventually, one has to believe that the college presidents would agree to a playoff system of some kind.
1. Voters in the college football polls like what has come to be creatively called “style points.” Texas really needed to put up some style points over what many called an over-matched Buckeye team. The Horns did not do that and in fact needed a last minute touchdown to beat Ohio State instead of whipping them like many expected. Therefore, no style points equals no split championship.
2. The BCS, whether we like it or not, is the current method for determining a National Champion. The AP doesn't decide. The Austin-American Statesman doesn't decide. It's settled on the field.
Yes, a playoff would be better but this is what we’ve got. That means that whomever wins the BCS title game is college football’s champion. Period.
3. Speaking of which, this final argument is one of the reasons I dislike the Trojans fans who claim they were national champs in 2003. They weren’t. The LSU Tigers were the champions and we know that because they won the BCS national title game; a game and a system for determining the national champion that USC agreed to. Therefore I cannot promote the Longhorns for the same thing without being a complete hypocrite. I’m not.
So for all the posturing, be it by Mack Brown or Pete Carroll, it really comes down to these types of arguments. I truly believe that the "for" arguments presented here are persuasive but ultimately, it comes down to the BCS Championship Game. It's settled on the field, winner take all.
As much as I love the Longhorns and feel like they got shafted by the system, it is what it is and I must accept that this year, the Horns are not the champs.
But watch out for them next year!