LAWRENCE, Kan. -- Note to the American Football Coaches Association Division I-A voting members:
When you open your sports section, check the Internet or watch Saturday's highlights, remember that fellow voter Mack Brown played it straight here on Saturday. He was a gentleman, coached the game the way it should be coached. The score says 35-7, Texas over Kansas. Maybe not overly impressive in stark agate of the Sunday paper, but it could have been worse. Much worse.
Considering the burden of fighting the Jayhawks on the road, a gusting 33-mph north wind, a 26-degree wind chill, snow flurries and your screwy poll, dear coaches, it was good enough.
|Colt McCoy completes two passes in the fourth quarter, and then Mack Brown (right) lets him take a seat. (US Presswire)|
In the end, Brown sat on 35 points after three quarters. Shut it down. Polls be damned, and the coaches' version should be considering it is the only one of the three BCS components that has Oklahoma (fourth in the coaches' poll) ahead of Texas (fifth), the team that beat the Sooners on Oct. 11.
Colt McCoy completed two passes in the fourth quarter -- throwing none that would be termed downfield. A bunch of mutts were in there on defense when they stopped Kansas during a late goal-line stand. All that was more of a message to the AFCA ethics committee than to the coaches who have failed in their duty to, well, pay attention.
"I'm worried a little bit that people aren't taking people out much in the fourth quarter," Brown said. "People are trying to score so many points. I hope that we go back and really work on sportsmanship and letting other kids play. I'm really concerned about that for our game."
Texas' coach knows that none of this honor-thy-opponent will matter next week if Texas Tech beats Oklahoma in the Big 12's fifth game this season between top 10 opponents. The Red Raiders would clinch the Big 12 South.
But if the Sooners win, the division could end the following week in a three-way tie, each team 11-1 overall and 7-1 in conference. In that case, the tie would be broken by the BCS standings. The highest-ranked team among Texas, Texas Tech and Oklahoma would go to the Big 12 title game and be best positioned among the three to get into the BCS title game.
What team that would be no one knows for certain, but Texas, starting Saturday at No. 3, had a slight advantage. Its only other weapon? A hammer for the Jayhawks on the blustery afternoon. That's why Brown found himself between a crock and a hard place. The temptation had to be great to at least send a message to the human pollsters.
Great, but not overwhelming.
"You always come out on top if you do things classy," said the man on the receiving end of Brown's orders in the fourth quarter.
Offensive coordinator Greg Davis continued: "In the long run being classy will (win out)." Will it? We live in a world where coaches have become selfish and obvious. Combine money, fame, power and championship games, they are more selfish about their need for style points and obvious about getting them.
Because victory margin is no longer a factor in the BCS computers, the only impressions to be made are on the carbon-based life forms.
"If 35-7 against Kansas on the road is not a good enough win for somebody," Brown said in the closest he got to disgust on Saturday, "we'll go wherever they tell us to go."
The thing is, Brown is an old hand at this sort of thing. Four years ago, his team needed to finish in the top four of the BCS to be assured of a BCS bowl. The coach was put in the uncomfortable position of lobbying the AP (media) and coaches' pollsters for help. In the end, he gathered enough poll support to jump over Cal into that fourth spot. Texas played in, and won, its first Rose Bowl.
Suddenly, the coach who was criticized for not winning the big one was criticized for how he got to the big one.
A lot has changed since then. If he wasn't before, Mack Brown is the gold standard. He won that national championship in 2005. Quarterback Colt McCoy, his latest Heisman candidate, won his 30th career game Saturday, tying someone named Vince Young for the school record. Saturday also marked Brown's eighth consecutive 10-win season, the country's longest active streak.
Brown and his players understand that the Texas Tech loss two weeks ago -- on the last offensive play of the game, by the way -- put them in a rather large bucket. They started the day one of five one-loss teams in the top eight.
If any of the five have a complaint there is a simple rejoinder: Don't lose and we're not having this conversation.
"Now we have to rely on other people," Texas defensive tackle Roy Miller said. "We shouldn't have lost earlier. We should have controlled our own destiny."
Adding to Texas' angst is next weekend's bye. The Horns have no choice but to plop down on the couch and root for Oklahoma. Then wash their mouths out with soap.
"It's going to be distasteful," reserve defensive end Eddie Jones said. "We've got to pull for Oklahoma. We can root for that one game for Oklahoma."
Jones was one of those mutts on defense -- second-teamers and lower -- who stopped Kansas four times inside the Texas 5 in the waning moments. That might have been the most noble part of Texas' effort. The scrubs kept Kansas to single digits, finishing up Texas' best defensive effort of the season.
Let's see how that looks in the Sunday paper -- and beyond.
"It was the biggest stop of the day," backup cornerback Chykie Brown said as he ran to a corner of Memorial Stadium to join the Texas fans in singing the The Eyes of Texas.
"We made a big enough statement for everybody."