Friday, December 12, 2008

Texas Whiners

The Texas whining has become unbearable. Bob Ryan and Dan Patrick put it over the top.

Here’s how Patrick started his interview with Mack Brown in last week’s SI:
The 11--1 Longhorns lost out on a spot in the Big 12 conference title game, despite having beaten Oklahoma this year, because of a tiebreaker system that relied on BCS standings.

Dan Patrick: Why isn't head-to-head the first tiebreaker?
That reads as if Patrick has not even a cursory knowledge of the facts and did his interview prep by reading Longhorn message boards.

No problem; he'll easily hide behind the cloud of misinformation created by the constant whining that has emanated from Austin. Ryan got caught up in the smoke last week:
Oklahoma got to play Missouri in the Big 12 championship game as the beneficiary of a fifth tiebreaker used to settle a three-way tie, that criterion being which team was ranked higher in the current BCS standings. But had it been only a two-way tie between Texas and Oklahoma, Texas would have gone by virtue of having the very first tiebreaker, which is, of course, a victory in head-to-head competition.

Is this either fair or sensible?
Is it fair or sensible to arbitrarily leave out one of three teams in a tiebreaker? Is it fair or sensible for a nationally recognized columnist to base his argument on a non sequitur?

A step up from Patrick, Ryan at least knows the tiebreaker rules, but is quick to toss them aside.

Where did this attitude come from? Unsurprisingly, partly from Mack Brown. He’s been too happy to revel in this disinformation campaign.

Here’s how he answered Patrick’s question
Dan Patrick: Why isn't head-to-head the first tiebreaker?

Mack Brown: It just isn't, but I've already asked the Big 12 to look at changing it. It probably wouldn't be admitted right now, but probably they wish head-to-head would have been in there. Hopefully they'll revisit that this spring.
A strange answer, no? Brown is coy and evasive, unconcerned with clarifying Patrick’s dubiously phrased question.

What Brown is referencing is the tiebreaker that other conferences use in such cases, where, instead eliminating the two lowest ranked BCS teams, they make an exception if the two top ranked teams are within 5 spots of each other, and that way, eliminate the third team, and then revert to the primary tiebreaker for a two team tie, head to head.

Don’t mistake Brown's motives (remember, he has a history of this). He’s only happy to feed the beast. From his official statement:
I’m really disappointed for our kids that two teams we beat this season will be playing for the Big 12 championship. I’ll try to explain it to them, but most importantly, my message will be that you’ve done enough to put yourself in position to play for the conference championship…
Actually, no Mack, in fact, they did not do enough. If they hadn’t lost to Tech, if your DBs wrapped up, then yes, you might be able to say they did enough, but this statement is either disingenuous or delusional.

Later he adds,
I do appreciate all of the respect many of the poll voters and fans gave to our season and the importance they placed on the head-to-head matchup in the end, but, unfortunately, it was not enough.
He is purposely glib. I'm sure he's similarly appreciative of the lack of importance the voters placed on the other head-to-head matchup. Tech's ranking in the coaches' poll is acceptable, but because they aren't a perennial power like OU and UT, and because they lose style points for producing system quarterbacks, they are thoughtlessly and unfairly disregarded in the tiebreaker conversation.

Notice Ryan's language here:
But the trump card for jilted Texas remains that 45-35 victory over Oklahoma.

There was nothing fluky or cheesy about it. Back on Oct. 11, these two great teams lined up in the Cotton Bowl - a true neutral field since there are always as many Oklahoma fans as Texas supporters - and produced a collegiate football gem. Oklahoma was good, but Texas was better...

Texas stood taller in the fourth quarter. It could not have been simpler...

Oh, but Texas would later lose to Texas Tech, a team the Sooners would throttle by 44. Of course, that game was in Norman while the Texas-Texas Tech game was in Lubbock. And the Red Raiders won that game on a touchdown with one second left. Which loss is more forgivable?
Tech's win is "fluky and cheesy." Texas and OU are “great." Texas is "jilted," but Tech is not.

His Texas predisposition aside, at least this portion of Ryan’s argument - the merits of the Big 12's chosen tiebreaker - is sensible.

But what Ryan fails to acknowledge (though he eventually simply makes the case for a playoff) is that imperfection is inherent to any tiebreaker. The important thing is to have a predetermined and agreeable one.

Bob Stoops' conclusion is the only rational one:
[The league] went to a [tiebreaker] system we all agreed upon before the season. If someone didn't like the system, whether it be the media or some other team, hey, just change it before the season and I'll play by whatever rules they want to play by. Just let me know before the season starts.
As for the intention and effectiveness of the current tiebreaker the Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe covers that here:
Any tiebreaker system is difficult and will leave teams disappointed. When the tiebreaker was written, I was not in the league, but they wanted to put in the team that had the best chance to play in the national championship game.
He addresses Brown's concern directly,
Let's say that the eighth-ranked team in the BCS is in the same division as the third-ranked. If the eighth-ranked team beat the third-ranked team on a last-second play at home, sending the eighth-ranked team, that would defeat the purpose of trying to send the team with the best chance of winning a national championship.
For good measure:

[Mack Brown's 2004 complaining history via BCS Guru]

-Agent Easy

1 comment:

  1. this is a great find, thank you.
    on that note,'s video highlights are by far the best and more clearly laid out of the main sports websites. my hat, off to and i love how they often include the audio from the team's local radio broadcast.