clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

The Coach's Poll Sewing Circle

Objectivity's handmaidens

You can lay blame for the upcoming Whipped By Texas Bowl on a number of institutions (the Big 12, the BCS, the Knights Templar), scientific phenomena (recency bias, Heisenberg uncertainty principle) or trends (our society's bizarre fixation on fabricating novelty where there is none), but at the end of it all I point my finger cleanly at one group: the coaches. Anonymity is the enemy of transparency and allowing those most impacted by a system to be its impartial jurors makes Sha'aria look sophisticated.

Collectively, it's clear to me that a majority of college coaches are a pack of mewling pre-teen girls.

No profession pretends to care more about results on the field or the primacy of the contest. They define their ethic with time-tested adages like "That's Why They Play The Game" and "We'll Decide It On The Field" yet they (and their SIDs) have proven less resistant to trend, perception, tribalism, and bias than sports journalists - a fairly stunning statement, as journalists exercise probity and self-control in the face of fad commensurate to a 13 year old girl on an I-phone at a Jonas Brothers concert. It's true enough that the Big 12 adopted asinine tie-breaker rules. Utilizing the BCS as a conference tie-breaking analytical tool is like blaming a flimsy umbrella for bad weather, but if the coaches had simply honored the ethos they purport to uphold - that winning has meaning, that real achievement is only realized through victory - we'd be booking hotel reservations for an icy flatlands Valhalla where we can experience "wintry mix" surrounded by droves of the bland obese (as opposed to Texas, where our wintry mix is confined to the Houston rap scene and our population is composed of the spicy obese).

The justifying argument is that OU changed drastically as a football team and dominated down the stretch after a neutral field loss to Texas while the Horns limped to the finish like a telethon candidate (by losing a game on the road with one second on the clock and then dominating the remainder). I'll address this sideshow, which, as a justification, deserves the same mockery that the "you must rate Tech ahead of Texas if you rate Texas ahead of OU" buffoonery. A methodology espoused only by those who couldn't break 900 on their SAT, some Tech & OU fans (redundancy is the enemy of good writing), and expatriate pederasts living in Laos.

OU continued on exactly as it had come into Dallas: dominant on offense (with a running game that fades as opponent quality rises), terrible on special teams, and delirium tremens shaky on defense. In two of the three major phases of the game, Oklahoma takes it in the Schooner. They did before Dallas, they did after Dallas. They gave up 31 points per game on defense in Big 12 play and they allowed special teams scores that made Sooner faithful ache for John Blake's steady hand. This is the same Sooner team we beat. No more, no less. Their false reinvention in popular perception makes me believe that Carmen Electra has a shot at being the next Dame Judy Dench.

I'm not sure why I bothered to waste the keyboard strokes debunking that seance of stupidity as it has nothing to do with what really happened and is the type of retrospective pos-hoc justification that human beings trot out whenever they betray a primary ethos.

All of the excuse-making is a way for a number of coaches to look in the mirror without averting their eyes for the betrayal of the central tenet of their profession: games matter.

So, why did it happen?

A good bit of it is related to the branches of the Hayden Fry/Bill Snyder coaching tree and their subtle and direct influence on molding colleague perception - it's a pity Mack Brown never created or was a product of a meaningful coaching family. Some of it is resentment against Mack Brown personally or Texas as an institution, some of it is self-interested gaming of the system by rival conferences, a smidgen of it is willful ignorance. At the end of the day, a bunch of coaches participated in a little sewing circle where if the participants had been blinded as Team A and Team B and resumes had been soberly assessed, they would have voted Texas ahead of Oklahoma at a 2:1 margin.

Care to guess how Bob Stoops would vote on that blinded analysis?

Thought so