So you’re a Texas fan. You’re mad at the world because, despite beating your biggest rival by 10 points on a neutral field, they’re going to the Big 12 Championship and, in all likelihood, the BCS Championship instead of your Horns. You’re looking for a scapegoat. Well, we’ve got one for you: His name is Mack Brown.
(Mack Brown giveth, and he unintentionally taketh away.)
That’s right, the very coach who helped put Texas in this position is also partly responsible for keeping them from holding the No. 2 spot. Brown has a vote in the Coaches’ Poll, one of two polls balanced against the BCS computer rankings to determine the overall BCS Standings. Instead of voting for his Longhorns as the nation’s No. 1 team, Brown picked someone else (we’re betting undefeated Alabama). Two voters picked Oklahoma No. 1. The result? The Sooners end up with a one vote edge in the Coaches’ Poll … and with an edge of less than two-tenths of a poll in the BCS Standings.
Of course, that means Oklahoma is headed to the Big 12 Championship Game, with a serious inside track on the BCS Championship. Meanwhile the Longhorns will have to settle for a date in the Fiesta or Orange Bowl, barring a stunning upset by a Missouri team that looked more cooked than Thursday’s turkey throughout most of a loss to Kansas.
Yes, there were other factors that helped push Oklahoma on to Kansas City and the Big 12 Championship game next Saturday. Oklahoma got a big strength-of-schedule boost by beating No. 11 Oklahoma State, while Texas’ previously unquestionable “toughest schedule in the country” took a hit when Missouri fell to Kansas (Oklahoma didn’t play Missouri).
But Texas did vault Oklahoma in the Harris Rankings. It vaulted Oklahoma in the AP Poll. Clearly, voters gave Texas a big bump coming off its Thanksgiving night romp of rival Texas A&M. The irony, of course, is that Brown is the only reason Texas didn’t have a clean-sweep of Thanksgiving week bounce-back in the rankings.
Brown certainly isn’t a pantomime villain; there are plenty of reasons to applaud his voting for Alabama (we assume) as the country’s top team. It’s honest — the Crimson Tide are the only remaining undefeated team, after all — and it gives credence to coaches’ accountability. Unfortunately, it’s also the least pragmatic thing he could have done, particularly when he knew that the slimmest of all margins would separate two teams whose rivalry is right up there with Michigan-Ohio State and (insert intra-state rivals of choice here).
All he had to do to push the Longhorns into a second-place tie in the Coaches Poll was name Texas as the top team in the country. He didn’t do it, Oklahoma got two first place votes (anyone else want to bet that one of Bob Stoops‘ former coordinators gave them a first-place ranking?) and Texas has to sit at home on Saturday while Oklahoma plays in Kansas City.
Still mad? We know you are. At least now you know where to channel all that frustration.