Texas Longhorns Gettin' Hooked

Marlin TerryContributor IDecember 5, 2008

How the hell did we end up back in this place?

Since Mack Brown took over the head coaching gig at Texas, the Longhorns have won exactly one conference title.  Several talented teams ended up empty-handed, due in large part to their northern Red River Rival. 

The Sooners were not kind to the Horns in the early part of the decade, winning handily each season from '00 to '04.  Other than the 2001 season, Oklahoma represented the Big 12 South as the best team from their division in each of those conference championship. 

Texas was always the team to battle them for that right, but the Longhorns habitually fell short.

Every single one of those years, OU earned it.  On the field.  They especially showed their dominance in Dallas in one of the most storied rivalries in the country.  And usually in a more than convincing way.

The best team in the Big 12 will wake up this Saturday morning in Austin, Texas without the chance to play for the title that they rightfully deserve.  700 miles away, the conference will crown a team that Texas beat this season, whether it be the hated Sooners or the Missouri Tigers.

That's right.  Your Texas Longhorns have as good (or better) record than both teams playing for the trophy.  And Mack's Pack owns head-to-head victories over both this season. 

But in the most recent release of the BCS standings, the Oklahoma Sooners finally catapulted the Longhorns and was granted the right to play for another title, despite their earlier loss to UT. (Hey BCS, you remember that right?  Oct. 11 wasn't THAT long ago). 

Earlier in the decade, this would be a common position for Mack Brown and his boys.  But that time has long passed, and this time it stings worse than ever. 

The Orangebloods began to exercise their Sooner demons back in '05.  Vince Young Texas-Two-Stepped all over OU in Dallas en route to their first national championship in 35 years. 

Colt McCoy, the Borden poster boy, helped continued to swing the series back in UT's favor with wins in two of the last three years.

Including this season.  If you hadn't heard by now, Texas beat Oklahoma...in Dallas...on a neutral field...45-35.  To remind our short-memoried voters, thousands of the Burnt Orange faithful did their part to remind everyone of this fact.

Signs at games.  Airplane banners.  45-35.com.  If the live version of the game was missed, you had to be living under a rock the last couple of weeks to not get a reminder.

Texas, Oklahoma, and Texas Tech ended their seasons with identical 11-1 records, all with wins against each other. 

And as we've all learned, the Big 12 is the only conference in the country that allows the BCS to determine their division champion outright. Similar three-way ties in other conferences would have unanimously sent Texas to play for the title.

That is because in all other conferences, the third team is thrown out of the equation.  And if the two remaining played during the season, the winner would win the tiebreaker.

This is not the way the Big 12 does their business.  So we instead have to turn to the "experts" and talking heads around the country.  Coaches in one poll.  Former players, coaches, lawn care, and water boys in the Harris Poll.  And computers in another. Then they average 'em all up and pick a division winner based on the results.

And there will never be a reasonable explanation for the results that were given on that fateful Nov. 30 afternoon.

The Longhorns argument can begin with the fact that they beat the other powerhouse in the Big 12 South, Oklahoma, on a neutral field by 10 points.  Oklahoma went into the game as the #1 team in the country, and got beaten handily by their hated rival.  When placing teams in their ballot, voters often decide on an order by the rationale of, "If these two teams played on a neutral field, who do I think would win?"  Well, Texas saved them the trouble this year and went ahead and answered that question for them.

Many "experts" would like to point out the fact head-to-head only matters in a two-team race, which technically this is not. Texas Tech entered the picture with a last-second win against then top-ranked Texas.  It would be the Horns' only loss of the season.

But the Texas Tech Red Raiders decided not to show up for their game against the Sooners, the first time they were truly tested away from the friendly confines of Lubbock.  They traveled to Norman and got whooped by 44, and propelled the Sooners back into the championship picture.

What championship-contending team gets beaten by 44?  And when did Texas Tech become a litmus test for team legitimacy?  One would have to go back to 1998 to find a south division championship team not named Oklahoma or Texas.  And only twice in it's history has that occurred, both times by Texas A&M. 

Whether by rule (as it would be in all other conferences) or just by sheer common sense, Texas Tech should have been eliminated from the conversation at that point.  Then the only way there should have been a discussion about the top team in the South was if a voter was seriously considering putting Texas Tech as the top team of the three.

At that point, drug testing should have been administered to the voter.  Otherwise, you are left with Texas and Oklahoma.  And in that discussion, the better team was already fingered.

Arguments can be made by both teams as to who was hotter.  Oklahoma ended the season scoring 60 points in their last four games.  The Longhorn defense allowed 16 points in their last two games, and had become a dominant force down the stretch.  Texas beat Texas A&M by a larger margin. 

Oklahoma beat Oklahoma State by a larger margin.  These points can be argued back and forth, and they definitely were before the last BCS standings were released.  The only concrete evidence that can be provided is a head to head match-up.

You can ask any fan of the NFL...the New York Giants are reigning Super Bowl Champions.  Not the Patriots, who were the better team on paper.  Hell, the Giants weren't even supposed to get past the talent-rich Dallas Cowboys.  But they did. 

And they showed on the field that they were the best team in the league last year.  Apparently, college football doesn't work in the same fashion.

The biggest opponents of a NCAA football playoff like to state that introducing that system would de-emphasize the regular season.  Ha!  At this point, that argument can no longer be made, since Texas's October win appears to be a moot point.

So the Longhorns will sit and watch a game they deserve to be in.  We Orangebloods will be left to hope that the Sooner Schooner's wheels fall off on the way to Kansas City, and in turn give us a chance to play for a second national title in four years.

We've been here before.  In the past, we were sitting at home hoping for another team to finish what our beloved Horns couldn't.  This time, what we did on the field should have been enough, and the season should not have ended this way.

The Longhorns proved to be the better team on the field, the only place it matters.  Yet here we are, back in that same old place...and the sting has never been worse.