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Commentary: So It Has Come to This

Inside Texas magazine editor Mike Blackwell reflects on the Longhorns’ BCS chances and the situation they’ve put themselves in, which has caused Texas to require help from, of all people, John Mackovic and Jackie Sherrill.

You can read all about it right here on www.insidetexas.com. It’s the story under the heading of “Longhorn Bowl Possibilities: Title Game Within Reach.”

This being the “quick, give it to me now” age, if you only have time to read one sentence in this particular story, I would encourage you to read the first sentence of the third paragraph. It was written by my colleague, Clendon Ross, and since it is posted on the Inside Texas web site, it must be true.

Now, like the Bowl Championship Series itself, I’ll give you a caveat before you rush to read the sentence. It’s 92 words long. Somehow it’s fitting that Texas’ chances of reaching the national championship game this season can be “boiled down” to a mere 92-word sentence. Clendon did a wonderful job with the research and writing that went into the story, and it saves me from having to do it, so I say “way to go, Clendon.”

Here it is:

“What Orangebloods should root for: Alabama to lose one of its final two regular season games but then beat Florida in the SEC Championship game OR Florida to lose one of its final two regular season games and then beat Alabama in the SEC Championship game, and Oklahoma to beat Texas Tech and Oklahoma State but then lose to the North representative in the Big 12 Championship game OR Texas Tech to win its final two regular season games but then lose to the North representative in the Big 12 Championship game.”

Despite Clendon’s good work, if ever there is reason to end our long, national BCS nightmare, it is this: the sentence explaining your favorite team’s chances might end up being 92 words long.

Here’s the deal, and I’m going to try to be is concise as I can be.

1. Texas needs to win out

2. Texas Tech needs to lose to Oklahoma

3. Oklahoma needs to beat Tech, then lose to Okie State

4. Everybody in the SEC needs to lose as often as possible

5. And after all of this happens, the Longhorns must rely on the good will of John Mackovic and Jackie Sherrill

Huh?

Just when you thought maybe, just maybe, perhaps, possibly the Longhorns still have a chance to reach the national championship game, remember this: Mackovic and Sherrill are part of the infamous Harris Interactive poll, which plays a role in this whole sorry mess. What, Switzer wasn’t available?

If all things fall into place for Texas, the last proverbial shoe to drop will be at least partially decided by the Harris Interactive poll, which also includes former Oklahoma star Lee Roy Selmon and Oklahoma native Steve Largent. These men are for the most part fair and upright members of society who publicly declare their solemn objectivity in all matter related to football.

Please.

Long story short, if all things go Texas’ way, the Longhorns will need the human polls (Harris Interactive and USA Today/Coaches) to lean in their favor. Jerry Palm, the BCS “expert,” claims that any one-loss Big 12 team who wins the conference title will be in the national championship game.

However, by rule in a three-way tie scenario for the Big 12 South title, Palm says the representative must win a “razor thin” battle of the human polls to reach the league title game. Right now, Oklahoma is ahead of Texas by 14 points in the coaches poll and Texas leads Oklahoma by 44 points in the Harris poll. Obviously if OU wins both of its remaining regular season games, those margins will change.

And basically, the chances are good that some team in the Big 12 is going to be sitting at home (or in San Diego) watching the Pitt Panthers play in a BCS bowl game. Who are the Pitt Panthers? They are your most likely team to win the Big East championship, hereby granting themselves an automatic BCS bowl bid.

Provided that Texas waxes Texas A&M in a couple of weeks, if the Longhorns don’t play for the National Championship, fine. If Texas doesn’t play for the Big 12 title, fine, especially if the team who does play in the title game is a deserving Texas Tech team. I’m okay with that. If Oklahoma plays in the Big 12 title game, it’ll be hard to stomach, but again, blame the Red Raiders – I can accept that. Texas vs. Florida or Alabama or Penn State in a BCS game? I can live with that.

The Pitt Panthers playing Florida somewhere for several million dollars is not acceptable and makes me want to jump off a high building, or at least the edge of Mt. Bonnell. John Mackovic and Jackie Sherrill sharing a giggle as they fill out their final ballot of the season is not acceptable. Ninety-two-word explanations? Not acceptable.

Rant aside, though, it is true that every game counts. Yes, the Pitt Panthers would finish sixth in the Big 12 South (seventh if they played A&M in College Station). But all of that doesn’t matter now. Texas must simply beat Kansas and Texas A&M, preferably by large margins. Beyond that, it is out of the Longhorns’ hands, thanks to the Lubbock loss. To eliminate BCS headaches and heartaches, you’ve got to win all of your games.

So take heed, and read Clendon’s 92-word path to glory. And pray that John, Jackie, Steve and Lee Roy will show some mercy at the ballot box.