I tell you what, getting passed over by the selection brings out the best in Baylor. First you had Bryce Petty’s great quote and now we’ve got Art Briles unloading on any target he can think of.
And he’s pretty accurate, too.
His first shot was fired at Big 12 conference commissioner Bob Bowlsby and Bowlsby’s shortsighted decision to proclaim Baylor and TCU co-champs of the conference.
Briles confronted Bowlsby on stage after the Big 12’s trophy presentation and addressed his frustration about being presented as co-champions with TCU during his postgame news conference.
“You know, if you’re going to slogan around and say there’s ‘One True Champion,’ all the sudden you’re gonna go out the back door instead of going out the front?” Briles said. “Don’t say one thing and do another.”
I bet that slogan gets unceremoniously dumped in the trash can this offseason. And you gotta love Briles for having the guts to say it directly to his commissioner’s face.
More importantly, he’s right. From the Big 12’s perspective, this wasn’t a case of ranking teams, à la the selection committee. You’ve got a conference playing a round robin schedule and two teams who finished with the same conference records. In naming a champ in that situation, head-to-head is all that matters. But Bowlsby decided it was more important to engage in an awkward tap dance in a flimsy attempt to influence the selection committee because he wanted to promote TCU’s chances to make the playoff. It didn’t work and now Bowlsby is left with a precedent that is probably going to blow up in his face one day.
Well, it would if he had any intellectual consistency. My guess is, if the opportunity ever presents itself, he’ll sell that out if he thinks it will help one of his schools make the playoffs. Which, of course, is the real story here. It’s just another example of how willing these idiots are to cheapen the importance of the regular season if they think it helps make the case for the postseason. There will be more examples, rest assured.
As for Briles’ other barrel, that was pointed at the selection committee.
“My opinion, since people are asking? I think the committee needs to be a little more regionalized with people that are associated with the south part of the United States,” Briles said. “I’ll say that. I’m not sure if there’s a connection on there that is that familiar with the Big 12 Conference. To me, that’s an issue.”
“We’re all humans. When I die, they’re not going to bury me in Maryland. They’re going to bury me in Texas,” Briles said. “When those people die, they’re not going to bring them down here and lay their body to rest. They’re going to lay them to rest wherever they lived all their lives. And teams they follow. And teams they know.
“You want to ask me about a team in this part of the United States? I can tell you about ’em. I can tell you their weaknesses and their strengths, OK? They need to have somebody on there that knows the teams in this part of the nation. The only person born in the south on that committee is Condoleezza Rice. She was born in Alabama.”
During a Sunday morning appearance on “SportsCenter,” Briles suggested ex-coaches R.C. Slocum, Mack Brown or Spike Dykes would be more qualified to evaluate programs in the state and region. He argued that Archie Manning stepping down from the committee in October due to health reasons might have ultimately hurt Baylor’s chances.
“When Archie Manning went off, I said we’re in trouble,” Briles said. “I know Archie. He’s a friend. He understands football down here. When he went off that committee, we were in trouble. We need a voice. We need a voice.”
Regional bias? I thought we got rid of that when we dumped the Coaches Poll from the process. Surprise, surprise. And of course Briles’ solution is to introduce more bias and potential conflicts of interest into the process to make sure his school gets at least the appearance of a fair shake. Yes, I know that doesn’t make a damned bit of sense. But it’s what the coaches are familiar with and comfortable with.
If he’s got a legitimate gripe, you could address it by expanding the size of the selection committee to represent all geographic regions and you could enlarge it sufficiently to cut the impact of regional bias. Or you could simply expand the playoff field enough that Briles would quit bitching. I know which path I expect the powers that be to choose.