Understandably disappointed in the wake of the Committee excluding his Baylor Bears from the national championship playoffs, Coach Art Briles said not a single member on the group had a connection to the state of Texas, according to ESPN today Sunday. Briles said only former Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice was even born in the South.
He further said, “I knew we were in trouble when Archie Manning went off the Committee.”
Manning was an All-American at Mississippi and a great quarterback for the New Orleans Saints.
Although his Baylor team defeated an outstanding Kansas State football team Saturday, 38-27, Briles watched as committee chairperson Jeff Long announced the Committee decided the Bears were only the fifth best team in the nation. Only the teams the Committee ranked as the top four qualified for the first ever college football playoffs.
Briles said when he dies he will be buried in Texas. He further said when the Committee members died they will be buried in other sections of the country. He said it was just human nature that Committee members would favor teams they’d followed all their lives from parts of the country in which they were born.
The Committee threw the highest-scoring team in the nation a bone by assigning them to the Cotton Bowl which is certainly a great bowl, but nothing compared to fighting for a national championship. Briles is probably the best coach in the universe as he has led the Bears to two consecutive Big 12 football championships for the first time in history.
When the Big 12 was first formed, there were serious doubts Baylor would even be extended an invitation to be a member. Several schools including Nebraska were supposedly adamantly opposed to the Bears being allowed to join. Baylor’s opponents allegedly claimed the Bears represented a small, private school and couldn’t possibly compete with perennial powerhouses Nebraska, Oklahoma and Texas.
Sure enough the Bears were the doormat of the powerful conference in the early years. But once Briles installed his high-powered offense Baylor started winning. The Bears won their first Big 12 title last year at Floyd Casey Stadium with a dramatic win against a talented Texas team.
Supposedly former Baylor coach Grant Teaff moved heaven and earth to help the Bears gain admission. After all, Teaff had proved Baylor could beat Texas in the so-called “Miracle On the Brazos” in 1974 when Baylor beat the Longhorns, 34-24. Texas had led at halftime 24-7. Other supporters of the private Christian school in Waco also threw their considerable weight behind the school and Baylor gained admission to the Big 12 along with former Southwest Conference teams Texas, Texas Tech and Texas A&M. They combined with the original eight members of the Big 8 to form the Big 12.
The Bears rolled to victories against TCU, Kansas State, Oklahoma and Texas this year to finish 11-1 for the second straight year under Briles. The Bears will face Michigan State on New-Year’s Day in Jerry’s World.
Briles also criticized Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby for backing down on his word that the team that won the head to head competition would be declared the Big 12 conference champion. During a pre-season news media conference the embattled Bowlsby promised head to head would be the tie-breaker. Baylor won that tie-breaker by defeating TCU. Bowlsby went back on his word and refused to tell the Committee Baylor was the Big 12 champion, according to Briles. Instead, the controversial commissioner handed both TCU and Baylor co-champion trophies.
A Committee spokesperson, Long said conference championships were a factor. He said the Committee discussed the fact that neither Baylor nor TCU were designated as the actual champion of the Big 12.
Briles confronted Bowlsby during the trophy presentation concerning the fact he’d gone back on his word during the pre-season. Bowlsby conceded he’d misspoken.
Baylor was ranked No. 5 and TCU No. 6 by the Committee in the final poll. Baylor and TCU were both good enough to make the final four. Questions linger about the current conference commissioner’s inconsistent statements. Why would he retreat from his original position that head to head would determine a conference champion? He clearly needs to do something to restore his credibility within the conference.
Briles said of Bowlsby that the commissioner had gone around all year with the slogan one champion in the Big 12. There are plenty of native Texans who might be more aggressive in promoting the Big 12 brand.
Bowlsby was previously athletic director for Stanford University when the Big 12 hired him. The controversial Bowlsby has failed to add two teams to the Big 12 which would allow the conference to have a championship game. The Big 12 only has 10 teams since both Missouri and Texas A&M left for the SEC.
Baylor quarterback Bryce Petty deserves credit for a Heisman Trophy-caliber season in coming back from fractured bones in his back in addition to a concussion suffered against Texas Tech only a week ago.
TCU quarterback Trevone Boykin also had a great season and deserves mention in the Heisman conversation. Coach Gary Patterson made a smart move in bringing in Sonny Cumbie from Texas Tech to help revitalize the offense this year.
Alabama, Oregon, Florida State and Ohio State were ranked the top four teams to make the historic first ever playoff for the national title.
Former Southwest Conference rivals Texas and Arkansas will play in the Texas Bowl.
Oklahoma State came from behind to upset Oklahoma to qualify for a bowl game also.
Did geographical bias against teams from the state of Texas play a role in the Committee’s final decison? That is a haunting question which will go down as one of the great mysteries in the history of college football polls. For sure, no one on the Committee’s talking.
Big 12 athletic directors are scheduled to meet Monday in New York City. The last time they were this angry the BCS ceased to exist. It will be interesting to see what the ADs do this time around.