There's a part of Bob Stoops that doesn't look forward to winning Saturday night.
Going on the campaign trail.
"It's not very comfortable for any of us," Oklahoma's coach said. "We're not in the business of politicking."
By late Saturday night you might not be able to slide a piece of paper between Texas, Texas Tech and Oklahoma. You know the situation by now: An Oklahoma victory could create a three-way tie in the Big 12 South that would be decided by the BCS standings.
Currently, Texas Tech is second in the BCS standings, Texas is third and Oklahoma is fifth.
The highest-rated team in the BCS would go to the Big 12 Championship Game. The computers aren't supposed to know any better when it comes to things like victory margin. The humans in the Harris and coaches polls are, well, human. They would be subject to the coaches' stumping.
On paper, everything would be even -- overall record, conference record, division record -- except in coaches' debate skills.
Would there be any way to break the tie?
"The only other way is strength of schedule -- that kind of thing -- is probably the fairest," Stoops said. "It also encourages you in the future to play a strong schedule for times when this may happen."
Stoops is not just throwing out a random idea. He knows that Texas Tech loses that part of the debate. That Red Raiders have played two I-AA opponents -- Eastern Washington and Massachusetts. What he might not know is that Tech is one of only five schools to have two I-AAs. The others are Florida State, Georgia Tech, Clemson and Western Kentucky.
No. 2 Texas Tech is the only one of the five to be ranked. Could that be the tiebreaker in the minds of the voters?
"What else do they have to look at?" said Eastern Washington coach Beau Baldwin, whose team lost to Texas Tech 49-24 in the season opener. "If they don't look at that, people are going to start scheduling those teams."
By any measure, Texas Tech has the weakest non-conference schedule of the three Big 12 South contenders. The Red Raiders' four non-conference foes (including SMU and Nevada) barely average in the top half of the Sagarin Ratings -- 113.75 among the 246 I-A and I-AA teams that are ranked. Jeff Sagarin's ratings are one of six computer indexes used to figure the BCS standings each week.
Oklahoma's four non-conference opponents (I-AA Chattanooga, Cincinnati, Washington and TCU) average 95.5. Texas (Florida Atlantic, UTEP, Arkansas, Rice) average 85.75. Among the three South Division contenders, only Oklahoma played a non-conference ranked team. TCU was No. 24 in the AP poll when the two met on Sept. 27.
Texas Tech is the only one of the three contenders that didn't play a non-conference opponent from a BCS conference. Oklahoma played two. Texas played one.
|Texas Tech played a joke of a non-conference schedule with two I-AA teams. (US Presswire)|
Playing I-AAs isn't exactly frowned upon nationwide. It's a matter of scheduling philosophy. However, the NCAA allows only one victory over an I-AA to be applied toward the six-win minimum for bowl eligibility. Pac-10 teams hardly ever play I-AAs because of the dearth of such programs in the West. Nine of the 12 SEC teams played a I-AA this season.
But is that perceived schedule "weakness" Texas Tech's fault? The UMass game had been scheduled for two years, according to Tech athletic director Gerald Myers. And a problem emerged in mid-January when Tulsa bought out of a two-year contract with Texas Tech for $150,000. Tulsa chose to drop Tech and go with Arkansas, which promised an $800,000 guarantee in a one-game contract.
That left Myers scrambling.
"You're talking about eight or nine months before you play," Myers said. "Everybody's schedule is full. Eastern Washington was able to accommodate us on that date.
"I was upset because Tulsa was a good, solid team. They were coming off a good year."
Eastern Washington, currently 5-5, played Texas Tech competitively 2½ months ago. It needs to beat Weber State this week to have a winning season. Tech beat UMass 56-14 on Sept. 20. The Minutemen are 6-6.
Asked if the non-conference schedule could keep his team from winning the tiebreaker, Myers said, "I guess it could come into play. I don't know. When you play in the Big 12, your strength of schedule is pretty strong."
Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe agreed.
"They're not No. 2 because of their non-conference schedule, they're second because of what they've done (in the season)," Beebe said. "If we had (only) one other team in the Top 25 there would be a lot of speculation whether they were that good."
That's the problem. The Big 12 is a powerhouse with three teams from one division in the top five. A complicated tie and an uncomfortable campaign looms.
"If you're going to be compared to somebody and you both have one loss ... (schedule strength) may make the difference," Stoops said. "I'm not going to raise any point against somebody else. What else is there to compare?"