The Big 12 South's 17.5 Million Dollar Question: Who Wins ?

Tim AzevedoCorrespondent INovember 9, 2008

Funny how the fine print always comes back to haunt you later.

If Oklahoma beats Texas Tech and Oklahoma State (which is far from guaranteed), the Big 12 South faces the very real possibility of a three-way tie.

Thus, the fine print of Big 12 tie-breaking comes under intense scrutiny.

The tie-breakers are, in order:

  1. The records of the three teams will be compared against each other (head-to-head competition among three teams).
  2. The records of the three teams will be compared within their division.
  3. The records of the three teams will be compared against the next highest placed teams in their division in order of finish (4, 5 and 6).
  4. The records of the three teams will be compared against all common conference opponents.
  5. The highest team in the first Bowl Championship Series standings following the completion of Big 12 regular season conference play shall be the representative.
  6. The team with the best overall winning percentage (excluding exempted games) shall be the representative.
  7. The representative will be chosen by draw.

Personally, I like option seven. There is no guesswork, no polling, no computer formulas— just sheer, unbiased chance.

But I'll go through the rules one by one, just to be thorough.

Rule 1.This would be irrelevant since we are assuming OU beats TTU, UT beats OU, and TTU beats UT. It's like playing rock-paper-scissors with acronyms.

Rule 2. This only matters if Texas loses to A&M, Tech loses to Baylor, or Oklahoma loses to Oklahoma State. But then, they wouldn't be tied in the first place, would they?

Rule 3. See rule two. Otherwise they are all tied at 3-0 against the bottom three of the Big 12 South.

Rule 4.There is only one common Big 12 North opponent between all three teams: Kansas. Therefore, if Texas loses to Kansas this weekend, they would be eliminated.

The winner of the OU-TTU game would then clinch the Big 12 South. Otherwise, if Texas wins, all three are still tied at 1-0 against common conference opponents.

Rule 5.Ah, our old friend, the BCS. Clearly, the Big 12 conference has been watching way too much American Idol if they actually believe in this multi-tiered voting system stuff.

Nevertheless, this is the most likely tie-breaker.

As we all know, the BCS is one-third Harris Poll, one-third Coaches' Poll, and one-third computer rankings.

Now, Oklahoma probably gets the nod over Texas Tech (at least in the human rankings) if they beat them this late in the season. So the question becomes whether they will jump ahead of Texas.

I'm not intimately familiar with the computer rankings, but I do know that they don't take margin of victory into account. Thus, coming in with even records at very similar strengths of schedule, I don't see the computers picking either team by much.

That means it's probably up to the people who decide the Harris and the Coaches' polls.

Believe it or not, Oklahoma (No. 4) is already ahead of Texas (No. 5) in the Coaches' poll. Barring stunning 100+ point margins of victory in Texas's remaining games, it seems likely to stay that way.

In the Harris Poll, Texas is ahead of Oklahoma by 44 points out of 2,825 possible. For the mathematically challenged, that's a difference of less than two percent.

So if Oklahoma wins by less than ten over Tech, does that mean they don't pass Texas in the Harris poll? How about more than ten (or any other arbitrary number you like)?

Does Oklahoma get the nod if they win in an even number of overtimes? Does Texas get the nod if the game goes into an odd number of overtimes?

Or is it a simple matter of whether there are more OU or UT partisans in the poll?

Does choosing by draw sound so ridiculous to you now?

Frankly, I don't know how you decide this sort of thing fairly. Maybe that's why Bob Stoops, Oklahoma coach and longtime supporter of the BCS, has finally come out in favor of a playoff in college football?

Anyway, barring a tie in the BCS (wouldn't that be great?), this will decide the issue one way or the other.

But let's look at the last two just for fun.

Rule 6. This won't matter since all three teams play 12 games and they each won all their non-conference games. Since we are at Rule 6, they must have already tied within the conference (see rules 2, 3, and 4). That makes it all even-stevens at 11-1.

Rule 7. The argument for the draw is that all three teams, if they are still tied after six tie-breakers, must be about equal. So it really doesn't matter who you pick at this point.

And since whoever wins the Big 12 South will probably go to the BCS title game, it's like a very exclusive lottery for the projected 17.5 million dollar payout. (Of course, everyone in the Big 12 conference wins no matter who goes since the money is divided up)

Come on, you know you'd like one of the participants in the national championship game to be decided by a draw.

Not even the Big 10 could defend the system then.


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