25 November 2008

Eyes of BCS Are Upon Mack Brown

(From BCS Guru)

Coach Mack Brown, how are you gonna vote?

That's the 17 million dollar question that Texas coach Mack Brown might have to answer to. Brown just may end up casting the deciding vote on who gets to play in the Big 12 title game - and by extension, the BCS national championship game.

How? As this has been rehashed many times now: Brown has a vote in the coaches poll whereas Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops does not. The coaches do not have to reveal their ballots next week, but that's when the tiebreaker for the Big 12 South will be decided, via the BCS standings. (We're assuming that Texas, Texas Tech and Oklahoma are going to win as favorites, please stop flooding the Guru about all the other probabilities - I'm WELL AWARE of them.)

If Brown drops Oklahoma from where he had them last week (presumably in the top 5, but he's not telling) to 10th, 20th or even entirely off the ballot ("Oops, did I forget to put OU on the ballot? That must've been an oversight, darn!"), it will have a profound - if not deciding - impact on the BCS title picture.

Based on the Guru's projections - assuming the human voters stay mostly static with their ballots - this is how the BCS standings will look should Alabama defeat Auburn in the Iron Bowl:

1. Alabama, 2. Oklahoma (.940 computer, .9258 overall), 3. Texas (.960 computer, .9209 overall), 4. Florida (.840 computer, .8955 overall).

If Brown leaves Oklahoma off the ballot, OU will end up at .9208 - yep, you guessed it, 1/10,000th of a point behind Texas and voila! Hook 'em Horns to the Big 12 title game! Even if he just nudges the Sooners to 10th, a tiny bit of movement in Texas' favor elsewhere in the polls will do the trick just as well.

You know, like calling to ask a favor from a friend or something. Yes, we're just getting warmed up.

The coaches' poll is such a conflict of interest cesspool, it's amazing how the whole season just might come down to who puts whom where in their ballot. No fewer than seven Big 12 coaches have a vote in the coaches poll, including Brown:

Art Briles (Baylor), Gene Chizik (Iowa State), Dan Hawkins (Colorado), Mike Leach (Texas Tech), Bo Pelini (Nebraska) and Gary Pinkel (Missouri).

Four other coaches with teams in Texas or Oklahoma also vote:

Todd Dodge (North Texas), Todd Graham (Tulsa), Gary Patterson (TCU) and Mike Price (UTEP).

Here's where the intrigue begins. Brown undoubtedly has a few guys on his speed dial if it comes down to the nuclear option Saturday night: Chizik is a former assistant, Dodge is a former Texas quarterback and San Jose State's Dick Tomey was an assistant in between head jobs at Arizona and SJSU and helped Brown win a Rose Bowl in 2005.

But Stoops, who probably now regrets giving up his vote after last season, has a formidable coaching tree and allies himself. Both Leach and Pelini were his assistants, and he can probably count on Steve Spurrier, his former boss at Florida whose own son Steve Jr. tutored under Stoops.

Then there are a few with their own murky agendas: Urban Meyer, whose Florida team is no lock for a top 2 spot even if it wins its final two games, may want to make sure to keep BOTH Texas and OU down. Cal's Jeff Tedford, who no doubt remembers how Brown screwed his Golden Bears out of that 2005 Rose Bowl berth, might decide it's high time to exact a little sweet revenge.

And this is just scratching the surface. I'm sure there are other relationships that run beneath the obvious; and don't forget the Harris poll, whose 114 voters are full of former players, coaches and administrators, whose allegiances run the gamut.

That's why the secret ballot (for both coaches and Harris voters) is a terrible idea. Using the BCS standings to break conference ties is just icing on the crappy cake.

A lot of this intrigue, however, might melt away - at least for this week - if Auburn upsets Alabama. This is how the BCS standings should look if the Tigers take their seventh straight Iron Bowl (again, assuming the ballots stay static - slotting each team one spot higher):

1. Oklahoma (.970 computer, .9625 overall), 2. Texas (.980 computer, .9542 overall), 3. Florida (.890 computer, .9388 overall).

This way, the Sooners will have more of a security blanket against voter shenanigans. And Florida will creep a little closer to the top 2 spot. Of course, this sets up a potential all-Big 12 BCS championship game with a rematch between Oklahoma and Texas.

We'll have to leave that topic for next week. One controversy at a time, please.

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