Big Twelve (December 1, 2008)

So... The current big whine is how Texas got "hosed" by the Big Twelve and the BCS. Watching PTI, both hosts are adamant about this. According to them, head-to-head counts nothing (Texas beat Oklahoma), and the Big Twelve has just sold out to the BCS.

Really? Not once during the analysis was Texas Tech mentioned. The fact is that the Big Twelve South had a three-way tie, not a two-way tie. And, each team in that three-way tie was 1-1 against the other two. The three-way tie is always a tough one, exactly because there is no "easy" tiebreaker in the form of a head-to-head outcome.

Let's back up a step. The implication is that the Big Twelve has sold out all of its tiebreakers to the defer to the BCS rankings. Not so. Here are the tiebreakers used to determine the division champion in a three-way tie, according to the Big Twelve

The following steps are made in order until someone comes out on top. If any step eliminates one team, the head-to-head winner of the other two is used.

  1. Head-to-head against each other. (In this case, all were 1-1.)
  2. The team with the best division record. (In this case, all were 4-1.)
  3. Head-to-head against the #4, then #5, then #6 teams in the division. (In this case, all three beat the #4, #5, and #6 teams.)
  4. Records against common conference opponents. (All three were 4-0 against common opponents: Oklahoma State, Texas Tech, Texas A&M, and Kansas.)
  5. BCS ranking.
  6. Overall winning percentage.
  7. Chosen by random draw.

So, the three teams were all equal after passing through four rounds of tiebreakers. The point being that the BCS is not the Big Twelve's preferred tiebreaker of choice, but is a second-from-last resort tiebreaker. In addition, they all also had the same winning percentage (11-1), so had the BCS part not entered in, this would have been decided by pure chance.

In short, the anti-BCS crowd would rather have the Big Twelve South champion determined by random draw than by using the BCS rankings!

I think this speaks volumes to the mentality of the anti-BCS folks, much more so than it is a legitimate criticism of the Big Twelve's tiebreakers.

Interestingly, nobody seems interested in discussing the relative merits of the Oklahoma/Texas/Texas Tech teams; it's just that Texas beat Oklahoma so choosing Oklahoma was stupid!

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Note: if you use any of the facts, equations, or mathematical principles introduced here, you must give me credit.

copyright ©2008 Andrew Dolphin