DALLAS – If you’re asking for the best team in the Big 12 right now, the answer is Oklahoma.
If you’re asking for the best team in the country, it’s Florida.
And if you’re asking who got screwed by the BCS, it’s every college football fan.
Of course, those are just my opinions. Fortunately, they only count toward my paycheck.
Other observers formulate similar opinions with millions riding on them, and they’re hardly worth the difference.
Once again, here’s the problem with the BCS: The idea was to give college football’s highest level a national title game without actually conducting any playoffs, thus preserving the lucrative bowl system and mollifying the indolent masses. But out-of-touch administrators sorely underestimated their subjects.
By pretending this format was just as good as the playoffs already conducted at every other level of college football, they only inflamed detractors all the more with the perpetration of a fraud.
College football fans, who carry grudges like some families pass on heirlooms, love a good debate. But they don’t like opinions foisted on them in the guise of science.
Translation: Don’t pretend the BCS process eliminates human error, no matter what Bob Stoops says.
After Oklahoma jumped Texas on Sunday in the BCS rankings, the Sooners’ coach proclaimed his sudden admiration for the computer part of the formula, saying, “They don’t have agendas, they don’t have loyalties, they don’t have opinions, they don’t have all the bias that everyone else does.”
Maybe that’d be true if you could train computers to watch film and grade players and quantify the difference between a Southeastern Conference cornerback and one from the Pacific 10.
But computers can’t do that just yet. Unless you count Nick Saban, who appears human.
Even HAL from 2001had to be programmed, and that’s one of the problems with putting too much stock in computers.
Here’s some not-so-secret information: Computers do have biases, and they’re not even concealed.
Richard Billingsley, who programmed a computer used in the formula, gives more points for November wins than October wins, a method grounded in generations of voting by AP and UPI voters.
But historical precedence doesn’t make it right. You can rightly question the quality of Texas’ non conference opponents. But what’s Mack Brown to do about the timing of his conference schedule? Should he be penalized for the toughest part coming at mid season, when Billingsley’s formula awards him fewer points, than Stoops gets for similar wins in November?
Better question: Whatever happened to the concept that games should be decided on fields of play?
If the Sooners and Texas were to play Saturday, I think Oklahoma would win. DeMarco Murray’s return to full speed gives Oklahoma an option it didn’t have in the Cotton Bowl.
But, once again, that’s just an opinion. Murray was 100 percent against Oklahoma State, and how much difference did he make in a 61-41 Sooner win? Seventy-three yards and a touchdown. Without Murray, Oklahoma might have won by a couple of touchdowns instead of three.
Even against a Sooners team with a healthy Murray, Will Muschamp might find a way to slow Oklahoma’s offense that no one else has since, well, since Texas beat the Sooners, 45-35.
Bottom line: The Longhorns and Sooners made their cases on a neutral field, and the results of any such contest speak louder than the ruckus generated by voters and computers and sports columnists.
The beauty of college football is that you never know what you might get on any given Saturday. Dynamics change from game to game and rivalry to rivalry. I’ve never seen a team play harder than Texas Tech did in the first half against Texas. The Red Raiders couldn’t duplicate that effort on the road against Oklahoma, and the margin by which they lost cost them the right to an argument now.
Even without Tech, we still have too many arguments and too little time to solve them.
At least Florida still gets to make its case on a football field, meaning we may yet get the best teams in Miami. But it doesn’t mean the system was right. Not if you believe in actual competition over opinion, no matter where it comes from.