Open Letter To Dan Beebe: Don't Cave In To Texas

Note: I have no idea if Dan Beebe actually reads this site or not.  My guess would be not.  Nevertheless, I wanted to take the opportunity to comment on this situation, and this was the best I could come up with.  Sorry.

Mr. Beebe --

You have a mess on your hands.  Three teams in the South division of your conference tied for first place, and they all went 1-1 against each other.  That is the very definition of a nightmare scenario in a tiebreaker system.

Now, you have the fans of one of the three tied schools, the University of Texas, urging you to change the tiebreaker because their team got left out of the conference championship game.  This puts you in a difficult situation, because UT has a lot of money, a lot of fans, and a lot of sympathy in the local, regional and national media.  If they want to make an issue of this, there will be a lot of people on their side.

No doubt about it, UT's players, coaches, alumni and fans have reason to feel left out.  The Longhorns had a great season, surpassing their expectations and putting themselves in the discussion for the Big 12 and national championships.

All that notwithstanding, Oklahoma and Texas Tech had outstanding seasons as well, and would have every right to feel left out if they were in UT's position.  The problem is, when there is a three-way tie and only one team can be chosen, by definition two of the teams are going to feel slighted. 

In this situation, clearly only one team can be chosen to play Missouri in Kansas City for the Big 12 title.  Texas, like OU, Texas Tech and the rest of the Big 12, came into the season knowing what the rules were.  Each team played their eight-game conference season.  Those games failed to separate the teams by record.  The first four Big 12 tiebreakers, all determined long before the season began, failed to separate the teams.

Now Texas fans want this fifth tiebreaker changed.  Please, please do not cave in to the pressure.

Let's face it.  Once you get down to a fifth tiebreaker, you're grabbing at straws to separate a trio of deserving teams.  Texas fans would have you believe the chosen method is unfair.  They cite the SEC's tiebreaker, which tosses out the lowest-ranked team and uses head-to-head between the top two teams if there are less than five spots separating them in the final BCS standings.  In this case, that would favor Texas.

The problem with that method is that it is inherently unfair to Texas Tech and other "non-name" programs.  While I can say nothing to put a favorable gloss on the Red Raiders blowout loss to Oklahoma, it is only one loss.  However, because Tech is not a traditional power, they did not get the benefit of the doubt.  While still ranked, on average, fourth by the computers, Tech is ranked eighth by the coaches and the Harris poll.  In other words, Tech is being dragged down by the bias of human voters who permit Oklahoma and Texas one loss without permanent punishment, but do not extend the same courtesy to a team that doesn't have the name recognition of the South heavyweights.

When the Big 12 was formed, UT and the other former SWC schools got their way on far too many issues, including drastically reducing the number of partial-qualifiers permitted at each school and getting a revenue-sharing agreement that guaranteed that, eventually, the schools in heavily populated areas would receive significantly more money from the conference each year than more remote schools.  It should come as no surprise that these rules disproportionately benefit schools like Texas and Texas A&M.  They view this as "their" conference, conveniently forgetting that it was the Big 8, with national powers such as Nebraska, Oklahoma, K-State and Colorado that bailed out a corrupt and failing conglomeration of Texas schools.

It should have been a great decision.  The old Big 8 got more TV sets, which it needed with most of its schools located in flyover country, and the old SWC got a chance at a fresh start in a conference not hampered by corruption and bad football.  Unfortunately, the initial rules gave the new schools quite a bit more than they deserved, given their contributions to the conference.

In summary, we've been down this road before, Mr. Beebe.  Let's not go there again.  If you do cave, I will hope with all my heart that Texas ends up on the short end of whatever new tiebreaker is proposed within the next five years.

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