For the first time in the 11-year history of the BCS, I find myself thankful for the computers.
As I wrote earlier this week, BCS voters were dealt an unwanted burden this weekend thanks to an ill-devised Big 12 tiebreaker format that forced them to play a role in determining that conference's South Division champion. I'm sure many of them felt conflicted about the Texas-Texas Tech-Oklahoma conundrum right down to the final seconds of Saturday night's Oklahoma-Oklahoma State game. I myself went back and forth on the issue a thousand times over the past week, even contradicting my own written words in the process (as several of you have pointed out), before finally concluding that the Longhorns deserved to stay ahead of the Sooners.
Apparently, numerous Harris and coaches poll voters came to the same conclusion, as Texas gained a combined 49 points on Oklahoma from last week's polls, despite the fact the Sooners, not the Longhorns, were the ones to post a road win over a top-15 foe this week. Still, there was hardly a consensus. Texas finished six points ahead of Oklahoma amongst the 113-member Harris panel, while the Sooners edged the Longhorns by one point in the 65-person coaches poll. Essentially, the human verdict was a draw.
In the end, the Big 12 South's title-game participant was determined not by a Facebook group or an airplane banner on Texas' behalf, or by the "emotions" (I'm still not sure how that word came into the discussion, but whatever) of watching Oklahoma's weekly 60-point outbursts. The Sooners are going to Kansas City because a set of completely impartial judges evaluated the data and determined that Oklahoma had a more impressive season than Texas.
Oklahoma finished No. 1 or 2 in five of the six BCS computers. Texas finished third or lower in three of them. The Sooners' average computer rating was 1.5; the Longhorns' 2.5. According to CollegeBCS.com's Jerry Palm, Oklahoma's win in Stillwater pushed it ahead of Texas in the two computers that account for home/away status, Jeff Sagarin's and Peter Wolfe's. A week ago, Texas' strength-of-schedule rating in Sagarin's poll was fifth; Oklahoma's 25th. After both the Bedlam game and Texas' game against 4-8 Texas A&M, that margin closed to 12th and 17th.
Not that any of this makes me feel more comfortable about the situation that transpired. If 11-1 Oklahoma beats 9-3 Missouri next week and heads to the BCS Championship Game, we're basically looking at a repeat of the 2000 season, in which Florida State edged out Miami for No. 2 in the final standings despite the Hurricanes' head-to-head win over the Seminoles. While Bob Stoops was adamant that the Texas-OU head-to-head result was irrelevant in this case because of Texas Tech's role in the three-way tie, the fact is, that should never have been of concern to the pollsters. Their job is to rank the teams in the order they see fit, not break a divisional tie.
Apparently, somebody at the SEC foresaw this exact scenario when he or she devised that conference's tiebreaker. It states that in the event of an unbreakable three-way tie, if the top two teams are within five spots of each other in the BCS standings, "the head-to-head results of the top two ranked tied teams shall determine the [title game] representative."
Something tells me that will come up in the Big 12's meetings next spring.