Sunday, December 07, 2008

And if that doesn't settle it then nothing will

I would say that the Sooners covered. And for the first time in his tenure, I saw Stoops genuinely trying to run up the score...and as much as I value sportsmanship, I could only shake my head and think, "Yeah, but there could be votes at stake, and some of those voters are mind-bogglingly, can-we-please-beat-them-into-insensibility-with-ropes-and-banish-them-permanently-from-college-sports stupid...I swear I hate this whole BCS s*** and what it has done to the game."

And besides, by the time we got to that game, I'd've happily watched us score triple digits just to make the whining stop. Loved the sign that various people were holding up at the championship game, which was basically this picture on a stick:

Two good takes from people who aren't OU fans:

First, here is Andy Staples arguing that we shouldn't condemn either Stoops (for running the score up to 60) or Brown (for politicking shamelessly like the mother of all media whores), because the BCS brutally penalizes good sportsmanship. I will reluctantly grant the point and withdraw my earlier criticism of Brown -- though I still think it's a big point in Stoops's favor that he refused to call in to the UT/A&M game. But I'll grant that Brown probably thinks politicking is now as much a part of the game as recruiting, and that it's an understandable point of view. Criticism hereby withdrawn.

Then there's's Mark Schlabach, who has clearly come to the same conclusion that the overwhelming number of voters has come to:
A couple of hours before Saturday night's kickoff of the Big 12 championship game, an airplane dragging a banner flew high above Arrowhead Stadium.

The banner read: "Enjoy the Bowl."

Sometime next week, a banner figures to soar over the Texas state capital again.

It should read something like, "Right now, we'd beat the hell out of you."

Actually, I don't think Oklahoma would beat the hell out of Texas, even now -- though you all know already that I think Oklahoma has taken its game to a new level on both offense (with the kinks worked out of the running game) and defense (having compensated for Reynolds's loss, and now having gotten Alex English back, which somehow I had forgotten was due to happen), while Texas is still basically the same team they were for those twenty-seven minutes in October. I think Texas would put up a heckuva fight. But anybody still arguing that Texas ought to be in the BCS is now arguing a technicality; they're saying that you should put your hands over your eyes and somebody else's hands over your ears and ignore entirely the question of which team is playing better football, and should say instead, "It's a single-elimination tournament [even thought it isn't], and we beat OU two months ago [though since then we've lost to a team that OU proceeded to obliterate], and therefore we should go because only head-to-head matters [though we should get the second BCS slot instead of the Tech team that beat us head-to-head]."

And besides, I don't think UT fans can take much solace in my opinion that UT would put up a better fight than Tech or Mizzou. I didn't think OU would beat Tech by four touchdowns; they won by six. I thought an OSU upset was more likely than a three-touchdown OU win in Stillwater; OU won by twenty with a hurt quarterback and half a playbook. I didn't think OU would cover the seventeen-point spread on a Missouri field in sub-freezing temperatures; OU not only covered the seventeen-point spread but tacked an extra three touchdowns and change on top of it. So, I don't think OU would beat Texas by more than a touchdown or maybe ten points...but at this point that clearly means little or nothing.

Meanwhile, so much for the body of work argument. Here's the comparison between OU and UT, game-by-game, setting aside the head-to-head shootout (which we'll get to at the end), working backwards from last night (using the average of how long ago OU and UT played each team) on the principle that more recent results tell you more about how a team is playing now.

Missouri (#25, yesterday for OU, 7 weeks ago for UT): Texas won by 25 at home in a game that was over by halftime; OU won by more points than my calculator can handle...okay, by 41, in a game that was over by halftime. As far as I'm concerned that's a wash; both teams obviously were way better than Missouri and any difference between the degrees of dominance is rounding error, basically. You could argue that there's a significant difference between the 31 that the UT defense allowed at home and the 21 that the OU defense allowed on the road but frankly I don't buy it. Missouri didn't belong on the field with either team; end of useful comparison.

Texas A&M (2 weeks ago for UT, 4 weeks ago for OU): please, like it's useful to compare how either team did against this bunch of losers. You might as well try to decide whether Leonard or De La Hoya was better by asking which of them could beat the crap out of me faster. Texas A&M serves the same purpose as Missouri does in this discussion, which is, none at all -- anywhere, anytime that either Missouri or A&M plays either OU or Texas, the result will be obliteration.

OSU (#13, last week for OU, six weeks ago for UT): Texas won by four at home; OU won by 20 on the road with a quarterback who couldn't take snaps then but can now. Big, big edge to OU, no matter how UT might try to spin it.

Texas Tech (#8, two weeks ago for OU, five weeks ago for UT): Texas lost by six on the road, getting outgained 579-374, but having to play without its best receiver, who is now back at full strength; OU won by 44 at home in a game that was more lopsided than the score made it appear, as Tech was overwhelmed as though they were just another Chattanooga and OU showed mercy in the fourth quarter. With all due allowance for Cosby's injury and home field advantage, this is a huge edge to OU. (I leave it to UT fans to decide whether they want to allow injuries into the discussion.)

Kansas (7 weeks ago for OU, 3 for UT): OU won at home by two touchdowns while still trying to figure out how to compensate for Reynolds's injury; Texas won by four touchdowns on the road. With all due allowance for the injury and letdown factors and improvement since the games took place, this is still an edge for UT. Not a huge edge, but definitely an edge.

Baylor (9 weeks ago for OU, 4 for UT): OU by 32 on the road, UT by 24 in Austin; no edge awarded to OU on the grounds that obliteration is obliteration (see, above, Missouri and A&M).

Those are the common opponents. The edge is clearly to OU, and furthermore the more heavily you weight recent results compared to not-so-recent results (in order to capture the improvement factor) the bigger that edge grows. Furthermore, in all three cases where I refused to grant an edge to either team, the edge would have gone, had one been awarded, to OU rather than to UT; so I'm being pretty generous here, I think even Mack would have to admit, should he be overcome by a momentary attack of intellectual integrity.

That's your common opponents. Now what about other games? I would go the rest of the way in order of impressiveness of victory...except that, since nobody else gave either team a game, you basically have a series of obliterations. So the question is, which set was a stronger set?

OU: TCU at home, Cincinnati at home, Nebraska at home, K-state on the road, Chattanooga at home.

UT: Colorado in Boulder, Arkansas at home, Rice at home, UTEP on the road, Florida Atlantic at home.

You could argue that OU should receive a slight edge, except -- look, let's be honest here. Trade schedules and you get the same results: ten obliterations. I just don't think you can award an edge here.

So UT has, basically, two arguments to say that it's a better team at this point than OU is: the second half of the Shootout, when they had OU shorthanded on defense (an argument undercut partly by the results of the first half but much more by the fact that OU has clearly improved dramatically since then and UT doesn't appear to have), and the fact that they spanked Kansas slightly more resoundingly than OU did. OU's arguments: Tech and OSU. And the more bitterly UT fans trumpet the importance of home-field advantage, the more they inflate OU's already big advantage in the OSU comparison. Plus, in every spot where I refused to award an edge and rounded to equality, the rounding error worked in UT's favor.

I'd say at this point, if it hasn't been settled for you in OU's favor, then there's literally nothing OU could have done to get you to admit they were better than UT even after UT's loss at Tech.

Unfortunately for Mack, this ain't single elimination, and the Sooners are going to the national championship.

But that doesn't take away the fact that UT is a great team, one of the two or three best in the country, and that they have had a great season, and that they have every right to feel unhappy about how it all worked out. Hey, I thought it sucked last year that OU was knocked out of the BCS by virtue of a Sam Bradford concussion...but then OU, disappointed at not playing for the national championship, went and embarrassed themselves in their bowl game. So my advice is, go take it out on Ohio State, boys. And cheer for OU to wallop the Gators, because then you can spend the next thirty years telling yourselves, "We shoulda been the champions."

And you might even be right.


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