- The Washington Times - Monday, December 1, 2008

The BCS system spit out the right call on the Big 12 South conundrum.

Oklahoma (11-1) vaulted Texas (11-1) in the BCS standings Sunday and will represent college football’s marquee division - the SEC East isn’t even close this season - Saturday against Missouri (9-3) in the Big 12 title game. Barring a particularly poor performance or a loss to the Tigers in Kansas City, Mo., the Sooners are almost certain to meet the winner of the SEC title game - No. 1 Alabama vs. No. 2 Florida - for the national title Jan. 8 in Miami.

Fair? Not really. Proper? Absolutely.

The angry folks in Austin should temper their angst with logic. First and foremost, this is not a head-to-head deal; it’s a three-way tie. The only reason it feels like a two-team controversy is the Sooners pounded the team that beat the Longhorns so savagely that Texas Tech (11-1) essentially was eliminated from the BCS conversation.

Take the head-to-head logic out of the equation and evaluate the teams on their total body of work. Common opponents? Oklahoma beat them by 29.6 points, Texas by 18.0.

Strength of schedule? Oklahoma played two highly ranked teams in its nonconference slate - No. 13 Cincinnati and No. 11 TCU - throttling both by an average of 25.5 points. Texas did not play a ranked nonconference opponent.

Style points? Oklahoma strapped 60 points on each of its past four opponents - Nebraska, Texas A&M, Texas Tech and Oklahoma State - leads the nation in scoring offense (53.3) and features the probable Heisman Trophy winner in sophomore quarterback Sam Bradford (4,080 passing yards, 46 touchdowns, six interceptions).

Current form? Texas pounded a poor Texas A&M team by 40 points in Austin. Oklahoma dropped then No. 12 Oklahoma State by 20 points on the road. Those same Cowboys gave Texas a 60-minute war in Austin earlier this season (28-24).

It’s not that tough of a call, but a different system wouldn’t make things any simpler. Consider the eight-team playoff that everyone seems to fancy. The only model the BCS conferences ever would sign off on would be one that guaranteed a spot to each of its champions. So there’s six slots filled. Then, to appease the non-BCS schools, another slot would be saved for a smaller conference school in the top eight of the final BCS standings. That would go to Utah this season.

Then there would be one at-large slot for another BCS school. Who gets it? Probably Texas, resolving this debate. But think about all the potential issues: What happens if Alabama loses to Florida, as most think it will? That loss will undoubtedly drop the Crimson Tide beneath Texas and Oklahoma in the BCS standings. So how much better is a playoff system that excludes a one-loss team that was ranked No. 1 for the bulk of the season?

That same system was one game away from including Oregon State instead of Southern Cal. It wouldn’t include one-loss Texas Tech or other undefeated teams like Boise State and Ball State. It could, however, include pedestrian multiloss champions from the Big East and ACC.

There likely will be an eight-team playoff at some point in the next decade, but that won’t put an end to postseason controversy.

Game balls and gassers - Co-coach of the year honors go to Georgia Tech’s Paul Johnson and Boston College’s Jeff Jagodzinski. The Yellow Jackets finished 9-3 in Johnson’s debut season after snapping a seven-year drought against Georgia with a 45-42 victory in Athens. The triple option works just fine against elite competition. Boston College also finished 9-3 and will represent the Atlantic Division in the ACC championship game for the second consecutive season. The Eagles won the division without anyone remotely resembling Matt Ryan. Nobody in the nation did more with less than Jagodzinski.

This week’s gasser goes to Tennessee fans who aren’t giddy over the hiring of Lane Kiffin. Monte Kiffin, who will join his son in Knoxville, began his career as a defensive coordinator at Nebraska under Bob Devaney and Tom Osborne and also ran Lou Holtz’s defense at Arkansas, so he knows a thing or two about defending the spread option. And too old? Read the man’s resume. There is no higher authority when it comes to defense.

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