Big 12 coaches could impact South by votes

Monday, November 24th 2008, 8:14 pm
By: News 9

Associated Press

If Texas coach Mack Brown thought it could have any impact at all, he would be rooting for Oklahoma on Saturday. Instead, he'll just watch.

Don't be mistaken, though.

Unless Baylor pulls off an unlikely upset at Texas Tech, and assuming the Longhorns (10-1) can break a two-game losing streak in their series against struggling Texas A&M, Brown will want the Sooners to beat Oklahoma State.

"I think it will be a great game, but for me to sit and pull for either one really doesn't make a difference," Brown said Monday on the weekly Big 12 coaches' teleconference. "What I will hope is obvious. And that's what's best for Texas, period."

Brown knows the only thing the Longhorns can control in their chase for the Big 12 and national championships is how they play against Texas A&M (4-7).

The Longhorns need to do more than only win the game in which they are a five-touchdown favorite. They need a dominating performance against their bitter rival to influence poll voters around the country who will be able to watch on national television Thanksgiving night.

In the human polls, Oklahoma (10-1) leapfrogged idle Texas over the weekend after the Sooners' 65-21 dismantling of Texas Tech (10-1) on Saturday night. Oklahoma is third in the AP Top 25, a mere four poll points ahead of the Longhorns.

But Texas moved up to No. 2 in the latest Bowl Championship Series standings, only .084 points ahead of Oklahoma.

If Texas, Oklahoma and Texas Tech all win and are tied for the Big 12 South, the fifth tiebreaker would be needed to determine who wins the division and faces Missouri in the Big 12 championship game.

That tiebreaker would be the next BCS standings, which combines some of the human polls with computer rankings. Texas Tech would seemingly be out of that equation since the Red Raiders are down to seventh in the BCS. That would leave Oklahoma and Texas, which beat the Sooners six weeks ago.

Big 12 coaches who vote in the USA Today coaches poll could have some impact on which is higher since that poll is factored into the BCS standings.

Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops declined a chance to vote in the coaches poll this year. He refused Monday to discuss why, but he might regret that decision now.

"Probably," he said.

Missouri coach Gary Pinkel laughed when asked if he would reveal whether he had the Longhorns or Sooners ranked higher on his ballot -- and never said. His Tigers lost 56-31 at Texas last month, but hasn't played Oklahoma.

Texas Tech coach Mike Leach, whose team beat Texas by scoring with one second left, voted the Sooners ahead of the Longhorns.

"Oklahoma beat us, so I put them ahead," Leach said.

Colorado lost 38-14 in its Big 12 opener against the Longhorn, and hasn't played Oklahoma. But Buffs coach Dan Hawkins acknowledged he had the Sooners ranked higher.

"I think I put Oklahoma No. 1," Hawkins said. "When you get into the circle of I beat you and you beat (another team) and (the other team) beat me, it's kind of who's hottest in the moment, particularly when you have a team like Oklahoma, that did what they did Saturday."

If the Sooners beat Oklahoma State (No. 12 in the BCS, 11 in the AP), it would certainly be another impressive victory. And it would likely carry more weight in the computer ranking than a Texas victory over the Aggies.

And if that happens, there is a distinct possibility that Oklahoma could overtake Texas in the BCS standings and be declared the Big 12 South champion.

But if the Sooners then lost to Missouri in the Big 12 championship game, there could be an 11-1 Texas team to regain the No. 2 spot in the final BCS standings and play for the national champoinship without winning the Big 12, or even a division title.

"I think the feeling is a valid one that even if you don't make it to your championship game, you certainly can be judged to be one of the two best teams in the country," Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe said.

What if there is something other than a three-way tie for the Big 12 South title?

In a two-way tie at 7-1 in the conference, Oklahoma would have the tiebreaker over Texas Tech, but not Texas. The Red Raiders would win if they ended tied with the Longhorns.

There could also be a four-way tie at 6-2, if Oklahoma State beats Oklahoma and Texas and Tech both lose. In that case, Texas Tech would clinch the Big 12 South.