Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Longhorns' Victory Wasn't Enough to Claim #1

In the aftermath of Texas' come-from-behind victory over Ohio State in the Fiesta Bowl, Texas coach Mack Brown was defiant.

"I wasn't sure before, but on Friday, I'll vote Texas No. 1 because I believe this is the best team in the country," Brown, a voter in the coaches' poll, proclaimed.

Kirk Bohls of the Austin American-Statesman agrees that Texas looked like a champion. However, "[i]n all likelihood, the Florida-Oklahoma winner in Thursday's BCS title game will take home the big prize unless unbeaten Utah's longshot campaign takes hold. But Texas deserves to be in the conversation about No. 1."

This is utter nonsense.

Not to take anything away from the season the Longhorns have had. But if Brown votes for Texas, he will be in violation of the agreement that the voters in the coaches' poll will support the winner of what is designated as the BCS national title game.

In the pre-BCS days, Brown could do that with a reasonable expectation of getting additional support from his colleagues.

But today it amounts to little more than a quixotic gesture — and one that could cost Brown his voting privileges in future polls.

Things could get interesting, though, if Oklahoma beats Florida. If that happens, Texas can claim to be deserving of the national title because the Longhorns were the only team to beat the Sooners.

But, if Florida wins the game, what would be Brown's justification? The Longhorns didn't play the Gators this season, so any claim to be the better team would be purely hypothetical. And Florida would have back-to-back victories over Alabama and Oklahoma to its credit.

No offense to Ohio State intended, but the Buckeyes have now lost three consecutive bowls — including two BCS title games.

When they look at the Buckeyes these days, college football observers don't see the team that beat Miami in double overtime to claim the national title for the 2002-03 season.

They see a team that has a reputation now — fairly or unfairly — for being unable to win in January.

A win over Ohio State simply doesn't impress people the way Brown may think it should.

Even so, the Longhorns are positioned well for 2009.

Richard Justice of the Houston Chronicle points out that Texas will have nine offensive starters and six defensive starters returning and "might well be the preseason No. 1 team in the country."

But Texas will have to settle for the potential for greatness next season — and concede this year's national title to the winner of Thursday night's game.

Even if that turns out to be the hated Sooners.

Mike Freeman of CBS Sports may have said it best when he wrote that Texas "choked away a long shot at history" by claiming a "lucky" victory over an "average team whose claim to fame now is beating Michigan" — an achievement that wasn't too remarkable, given the fact that Michigan, with its 3-9 record, had its first losing season in more than 40 years.

Brown will have to be gracious this time — and abide by the coaches' agreement to support the winner of the BCS title game.

No comments: