Texas A&M Deserves Spot in Big 12 Title Game, BCS Rankings Aside

Scott GallowayContributor INovember 29, 2010

Texas A&M has reeled off six straight wins including wins over Nebraska and Oklahoma.  Since changing starting quarterbacks the Aggies are undefeated and playing as well as anyone.  The Aggies suffered three straight losses to highly ranked Arkansas, Missouri and Oklahoma State. 

Since that time, A&M is undefeated.  They are 4-1 against Big 12 South opponents, tied with Oklahoma and Oklahoma State. Conference rules say that BCS rankings are to be used to break the tie.  Oklahoma will advance to the conference championship game against Nebraska.  

Most of the great sports leagues in this country, the NFL, NBA, Major League Baseball and high school state associations never use rankings to determine playoff participants.  For college sports it is a sad way of life.  It has been done so often, many don’t question it. 

I doubt that the sportswriters of the 1930s, when the Associated Poll originated, would have ever thought that their entertaining little poll would evolve to someday be used to determine which schools would win a conference championship. In fact, Alan J. Gould, the originator of the AP poll, said, “Newspapers wanted material to fill space between games. That’s all I had in mind, something to keep the pot boiling.”

The truest and most objective way to decide which teams deserve to advance to the postseason is to compare the teams’ results as they all play the same exact schedule.  Anyone who has followed high school football knows how this works.

All the teams in a league play each other and the results of those games are the only results considered to determine the league champion.  If a three-way tie occurs, a point system has been used to break the tie between the three teams. 

A point system for a tie-breaker would work like this: point differentials in the games between the three teams are used to break the three-way tie.  A&M beat Oklahoma 33 to 19 for 14 positive points.  The Aggies lost to OSU 33-36 for negative three points to be subtracted from the 14 positive points.

So the Aggies have plus-11 points to be compared with the positive points of OSU and OU.  OSU is given three positive points for its three-point win over A&M.  The Cowboys lost to Oklahoma by six points, 47 to 41. The negative six points are taken and added to OSU’s positive three points to give OSU a minus3 point total.

Oklahoma’s six-point win over OSU gives the Sooners six positive points, but they must subtract the 14 points from the A&M loss and score minus-8 points to be compare with the Aggies’ plus-11 points.  Texas A&M would advance to the Big XII Championship in this tiebreaker system scenario. 

Other factors that would favor A&M, the fact that the Aggies are 6-0 in the last six games, OU and OSU are 4-2.  The Aggies appear to be playing the best football over the last six weeks.  All three teams lost games to Big XII North opponents, A&M and OU to Missouri, OSU to Nebraska.  Of course, the factor that hurts A&M is that it suffered a third loss to No. 7 Arkansas 24-17 in non-conference play. 

So if A&M would have scheduled a weaker non-conference opponent, they may have been rewarded with a higher BCS ranking than Oklahoma a team they defeated on the field. Using the BCS ranking as a tie-breaker penalizes A&M’s scheduling of Arkansas.

This is the second time in two years, the Big XII South has ended in a three-way tie.  In 2008, Oklahoma was the beneficiary of the “BCS ranking” tiebreaker, even though they had lost to Texas. After winning the conference championship, the Sooners lost to Florida in the BCS championship game.

If college football had a multi-team national playoff, surging teams like Texas A&M, could qualify for the postseason on a roll.  There is way to do it without the use of subjective rankings. You can read about such a national championship playoff proposal in It’s Possible! Realignment and Playoffs – College Football’s Opportunity, available on amazon.com

Texas A&M Big 12 South Results

@Oklahoma State     L  33-36

Texas Tech                  W 45-27

Oklahoma                  W 33-19

@Baylor                     W  42-30

@Texas                      W  24-17

Oklahoma Big 12 South Results

Texas                         W 28-20

@ Texas A&M         L  19-33

Texas Tech              W 45-7

@Baylor                  W 53-20

@Oklahoma St.     W 47-41


OK State Big 12 South Results

Texas A&M            W 36-33

@Texas Tech         W 34-17

Baylor                      W 55-28

@Texas                  W 33-16

Oklahoma              L   41-47


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