Mailbag: Is Texas Doomed In A Three-Way Tiebreak?

With each passing week in this crazy season comes more and more email to my inbox. Keep it coming. As always, I make a point to respond to everyone through email or on the site. I will never use anyone's full name on BON unless explicitly authorized.

Thanks for taking my email in last week's Mailbag. I don't mean to be a pest but there's still a big gap between you and what Hinton is saying on Texas' chances. I guess what I'm trying to bait you into discussing is whether or not you think he's full of it. I mean, one of you has to be wrong on this right?

(Also for the record- I am a Mizzou fan, I just love Big 12 football and like your blog. And of course am interested to see who we will play in the title game.)

--L.S.

Alright, alright: Let's take this on more directly. And let me preface my comments by noting that I fully support Matt Hinton's candidacy to become CFB's Playoff Czar.

To your email: Honestly, what you're really asking for is a Matt Hinton Mailbag. I've laid out my reasons why I think Texas should win a three-way tiebreaker with Oklahoma and Tech, and BZ has masterfully explained why--if the human vote falls one (not unrealistic) way--Texas not only can, but would. What you want to know is: Why does Hinton think Texas can't win the three-way tiebreak. So I'll post this publicly and ask for Matt to weigh in at his home base.

I'll risk putting words in his mouth by saying that my read on what he's been saying is that he is projecting a tide of human vote momentum for Oklahoma that--if realized--would in 9 computer scenarios out of 10 propel Oklahoma past Texas. But we'll let him speak for himself.

And one final point: Not only do I not think it's the OU slam dunk Hinton assumes, but, even if it were, what the hell else would you expect from BON but to lobby loudly for the alternative? If there's a three-way tie for the Big 12 South, Texas fans can, should, and will loudly make the case that our team belongs in Kansas City. That won't change, whether Hinton's right or not.

(Editor's note: This was emailed prior to the Kansas game.)

With all of the discussion regarding our defense this year, and in
particular our pass defense, I'd like to get your take on something.

If Mack had decided to keep Akina as the DC instead of bringing in
Muschamp, and we were in the exact same position at this point as a team -
record, attitude, offense, defense - would the majority of fans (you
included) be as positive about the performance of our defense this year?
Would Akina be getting the same amount of love that Muschamp is getting?
Would the same perception exist that a lot (not all) of our defensive stats
are more a function of the offenses we've played than a poor job by our
defense and defensive coaching staff?

--Horncasting

This is a great question, because Horncasting both makes a great point (Muschamp Mythology is a real phenomenon) and demands to know whether that's coloring otherwise objective analysis.

To answer the first part: You're right. I doubt very much that if Duane Akina had been retained as Defensive Coordinator, he would be enjoying the same kind of charitable interpretation of the defense's performance-to-date. With Muschamp, there is--and I can't deny this applies to myself as well--a tendency to look at a data set and, faced with two possible interpretations, give Texas' charismatic DC the benefit of the doubt.

With that said, whatever excess there may be in praising Muschamp, and whatever disparity there might be if we compared it against the exact same performance by Akina... if we strip all that away, I'll stand firmly behind the conclusion that the 2008 defense has to be considered a success. Whatever biases may exist in the way we discuss the DCs themselves, I roundly reject any argument that this defense has been anything short of Very Good.

The stat post last week was my way of trying to say: "Look, this defense has passed my eyeball test in terms or improvement, but also, for those of you concerned about the big cumulative stats, please bear in mind the context: Texas has faced four of the strongest offenses I've ever seen in Oklahoma, Missouri, Okie State, and Texas Tech." 

And on a final note: the dissents to my post seemed centered on the argument that, whether this is an improvement or not, Texas needs better heading forward. I don't know anyone who would want otherwise, but that point seems to miss what this defensive unit has accomplished along the way. What I find exciting is that this defense is, as I anticipated, awfully good as we approach the season's conclusion. What surprises me is that those historic offenses didn't destroy us worse than they might have along the way. The best is in front of us, but the results-to-date deserve a salute. I believe that.

PB I read your site every day and though I don't comment I read all of the comments and I just have to say that I found objectionable your comment that those of us who would root for Tech this weekend would be Aggie for doing so.

Let me just state that I find it hard to believe you (or any diehard fan) could hear that horrible Boomer Sooner song and actually feel good about it. It's just not something I can fathom. Every Texas fans should root for Tech and then hope for Baylor or Missouri to get the upset!

--Clyde E.

If you're suggesting that I, or any Texas fan, should never root for Oklahoma, no matter how much it would help the Longhorns, then I'll stand by what I said--that's Aggie. It's like the college football playoff: Whatever one thinks of the new President politically, if you're for a college football playoff, you should welcome that the guy is aiding the cause. Who the hell cares how it comes about?

Similarly, if an Oklahoma win will help Texas, I'm all for it. I don't care whether Oklahoma loses 12 games a year; I care whether they lose 1 game a year. In Dallas. And if you press me on it, I'd suggest that I'd rather Texas have beat down an otherwise excellent Sooners team than get a win over a decrepit OU team. Hell, the last thing we need is another Lose-Lose game like A&M has become: If you win, it's no big deal, because they blow; if you lose, it's even more revolting than it would have been had they been a formidable opponent.

So screw that: No Texas fan need feel like it's some sort of sin to root for Oklahoma when it helps Texas. The only sin is losing to Oklahoma. And we're cool there--45-35, bitches.

With that said, I will concede a little ground in one regard: If you're of the Doc Saturday persuasion and don't think a three-way tiebreak will work out favorably for Texas, then you really should be rooting for Texas Tech if you think Missouri would have a reasonable shot at upsetting the Red Raiders in Kansas City. That's another topic for another day, but I wouldn't think it unreasonable for one to argue that the Tigers had a solid chance to win that game. And if you think the Tigers would be more likely to upset Tech than OU, then sure, go for it. Root your heart out for Tech on Saturday.

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