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Tim's mailbag: The Big 12's representation on the BCS polls

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

Ed Quigley writes: I did a quick search of the Big 12 tiebreakers should Texas Tech beat Texas and OU beat TT (and they all win the rest of the games). Now, I realize this is a big supposition but it appears from my reading of the Big 12 tiebreaker rules that in this case it would fall to subsection (f) which would be the team with the Highest Ranking in the latest CNN/USA Today poll. Now correct me if I'm wrong but Oklahoma does not have a vote in this poll while Texas Tech and Texas do.

Is this the true? And if so, is this the most ridiculous conflict of interest imaginable? Does the poll have a clause that will disallow the poll votes of Leach and Brown in this case? I mean if you're talking about the Big 12 title game appearance and possible BCS Title game why would you NOT put your team #1 and leave the other 2 completely out of the poll? And if you DON'T do this are you not doing what you should do as a coach for your team? Or are you supposed to keep your vote "honest" and "teach the men"? I know it's all speculation but WOW, what speculation.

Tim Griffin: As I wrote last week, the order of tiebreakers in that three-team tie would revert to the fifth tiebreaker, with the team advancing with the highest standing in the Bowl Championship Series standing.

And here's a list of those voters with Big 12 ties who are voting in either the Harris poll or the coaches' poll:

USA Today coaches' poll - Art Briles, Baylor; Mack Brown, Texas; Dan Hawkins, Colorado; Mike Leach, Texas Tech; Bo Pelini, Nebraska; Gary Pinkel, Missouri; Gene Chizik, Iowa State.

While Oklahoma isn't directly represented by Bob Stoops, his coaching godfather Steve Spurrier is a voter as is Pelini, who once worked for him.

On the Harris Interactive Poll, here are Big 12 area voters I was able to ascertain - Former Nebraska linebacker/ broadcaster Trev Alberts, Dallas-based NFL.com contributor Gil Brandt, Fort Worth Star-Telegram Texas A&M beat writer Lori Dann, former Baylor quarterback J.J. Joe, Kansas City Star Big 12 beat writer Blair Kerkhoff, former Texas A&M coach/broadcaster Jackie Sherrill, former Oklahoma State running back Thurman Thomas, Oklahoma City talk show host/Big 12 play-by-play broadcaster Ron Thulin and former Ohio State/Iowa State coach Earle Bruce.

I think the grassy-noll conspiracy talk might be a tad early. Let's at least wait until the last couple of weeks before we start it. We aren't even in November yet.

Steve from Huntsville, Texas writes: I am a born and bred Texas Aggie, but I am no fool. If Texas wins this week, they should not be allowed to play in a BCS bowl. They should let their second-string and third-string play against A&M. I think they are that good.

Tim Griffin: Steve, I do agree that Texas has shown much during its three-game gauntlet with impressive victories over Oklahoma, Missouri and Oklahoma State. A triumph over Tech would make it four ranked opponents in a row.

But something tells me that Colt McCoy and the Longhorns still remember those two games that your team beat them during the last two seasons. I bet Colt especially remembers how he left the field the last time he played A&M in Austin. So I wouldn't expect much mercy from your old rivals considering that.

Clay writes: Texas Tech kicker Matt "Lynwood" Williams won a year's worth of rent for his kick and it's been reported that he turned it down because he had already signed a lease elsewhere. He was only a student at the time of the kick, surely the NCAA couldn't have involved itself in that in regards to "later" making the team, could it?

Tim Griffin: don't think so. He had to prove to them that he wasn't receiving an improper gift, and thus couldn't receive the prize he won at a game. It sounds like he gave up a chunk of cash, but maybe the chance to play Division I football and not go through the perils of spring practice were too good to resist. I don't know, it sounds like a pretty good gig to me. And he won the Big 12's special player of the week honors his first week as well. It sounds like it might be something he could tell his grandkids about some day. And maybe even be worth giving up free rent for.

Clay from Oakland, Calif., writes: In light of the official announcement that there will be a coaching change, what is your take on Gary Pinkel's candidacy? Is his "no comment" an indication he will listen to Washington? And if Pinkel leaves Missouri, would the head coaching job go to Dave Christensen. Or would Washington be interested in that former Husky?

Tim Griffin: It's interesting to consider Pinkel going back to Washington where he was the offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach for some of Don James' best teams during his previous tenure there from 1979-90. But Pinkel is 56 and has most of his family living in the Columbia, including children and grandchildren. I can't see Gary walking - or taking his motorcycle for that matter - away from a program he has built into a North Division power and leaving for another huge rebuilding job at this stage of his career.

Maybe if the money was right, but I would be extremely surprised. I'm saying that with the full realization that Chase Daniel will be leaving after this season and Jeremy Maclin might be going. Pinkel has the Missouri program pointed in the right way, which wasn't the case when he arrived in 2001.

And Christensen, a former Washington offensive lineman who coached there with Pinkel in 1989-90, would be a logical choice if his boss says no. But I'm hearing that Washington is looking for somebody with head coaching experience and might look that way instead. But I expect Christensen to get a head coaching job soon.

Bryce Maher from Omaha writes: I wanted to know what shot you give Nebraska at winning the Big 12 North, and how good you think Joe Ganz, Marlon Lucky, and Nate Swift are?

Tim Griffin: I think Nebraska's schedule is much more difficult than either Kansas or Missouri. And the Tigers already have an edge on them with the head-to-head victory earlier this season in Columbia. But if Nebraska could pull off a stunning upset in Oklahoma this week, it might push them right into the middle of the title hunt. But I'm not expecting that to happen.

As far as the Nebraska players, I think Ganz is one of the most underrated players in the Big 12. If the league had a normal collection of quarterbacks rather than the star-studded group of this season, he might be considered for some all-conference honors. I've been a little disappointed with the early performance of Lucky, but recently I've seen him make a big step forward. And Swift has really turned into a nice player. Check out the feature I did on him earlier today. He's got an interesting story to tell.

Joseph from College Station writes: Texas A&M's offense has been getting more and more impressive as of late. When do you expect their defense to catch up with the offensive side? Do you think A&M can pull together wins against Colorado and Baylor and then maybe work some magic for a bowl bid against OU or Texas? Remember OU is coming into Kyle Field remember 2002?

Tim Griffin: I was impressed with A&M victory over Iowa State, but Colorado and Baylor will be another step up. I think they will have a better shot being the pedestrian offensive attack of Colorado's than Robert Griffin and the Bears. That should be an entertaining shootout between Griffin and Jerrod Johnson. And while I know that the Aggies have given Bob Stoops a lot of trouble in the past, Baylor's offense will give A&M a lot of problems, too. And as I mentioned earlier, something tells
me that Colt McCoy hasn't forgotten the Aggies, or his meeting with Kellen Heard the last time the Aggies and Longhorns hooked up in Austin, either.

Gail from Lubbock writes: Texas Tech beat Kansas in Lawrence by a much larger margin than Oklahoma beat them in Norman, and Tech also beat Kansas State by a larger margin than Oklahoma did. Tech also hasn't lost a game. Call me a homer, but I don't see how you can rank the Sooners ahead of the Raiders right now.

Tim Griffin: Gail, I labored over my power rating, which also was how I ranked them in my ESPN.com power poll. But I still think Oklahoma is just a tad better than Texas Tech. The gap is definitely narrowing. But I guess most people in the AP and USA Today polls agreed with me as well - Tech was ranked behind the Sooners in both polls as well.

But we'll be able to see which team is really better when the Red Raiders travel to Norman on Nov. 22, won't we?

Jason from Los Angeles writes: Tim, I am a CU alum traveling to College Station this weekend for the Big 12 crummy game of the week. What are the best places to go while in Aggieland?

Tim Griffin: As I've stated before, Kyle Field is one of my favorite locations to watch a college football game. If you've never been there before, you ought to go. There will be excitement there, no matter where the teams are in the standings.

If you are getting there a night early, you owe it to yourself to check out Midnight Yell Practice. It's also a one-of-a-kind spectacle you don't see many places.

You have all kinds of chain choices you would expect in a large college town. But I really like Freebirds, which got its start in the area as a location for some delicious massive burritos.

My friend Brent Zwerneman, who knows as much about Aggieland as anybody after covering them for a number of years, swears by the "Dixie Chicken" as his favorite place for libations and a post-game meal. I'd probably go by his advice on that one, too.

Jeni from Houston: Tim, what's your prediction for the Texas Tech/Texas game this weekend. Also, do you think this game could be the deciding factor for the Heisman Trophy between Graham Harrell and Colt McCoy?

Tim Griffin: Jeni, sorry to waffle on a score, but I'm still working on it. Check back on my predications page Thursday. But I do agree the game will have some serious Heisman ramifications. If Texas wins and McCoy has a good game, I think he becomes a prohibitive favorite. But if Tech springs the upset and Harrell is the difference, it puts him right in the race. And he'll have a great shot to build momentum after that with remaining games against Oklahoma State and Oklahoma that would only ratchet up in importance if Tech is unbeaten going into them.

David from Jackson, Tenn., writes: With the Longhorns playing Texas Tech this weekend, that will make four top ten opponents in a row. Has any team ever done that before? And if so, has any team won all four?

Tim Griffin: I asked your question to ace ESPN research department college football guru Brad Edwards and he's researching it as we speak. But he turned up the 1960 Iowa team as what he considers as the hardest schedule in history. Check out the gauntlet the Hawkeyes had to charge through that season.

IOWA HAWKEYES, 1960 season

Oct. 1 at 6 Northwestern W
Oct. 8 at 13 Michigan State W
Oct. 15 12 Wisconsin W
Oct. 22 10 Purdue W
Oct. 29 19 Kansas W
Nov. 5 at 3 Minnesota L
Nov. 12 3 Ohio State W

That's a seven-week stretching featuring games against No. 6, No. 13, No. 12, No. 10. No. 19, No. 3 and No. 3. Incidentally, the Hawkeyes finished 8-1 that season and No. 3 in the AP poll.

Most amazingly of all, that Iowa team didn't even get to a bowl game. Only one team from the Big Ten was allowed to go to bowls back then. And Minnesota advanced after winning the head-to-head game, losing to Washington in the Rose Bowl.

Iowa finished the season 8-1 and No. 3 in the AP poll

And with all due respect to the Longhorns, I think they've been one-upped by the Hawkeyes on this.

Thanks for the letters and keep them coming. And feel free to join me on my weekly chat Thursday afternoon for more hot Big 12 conversation. And maybe even some discussion about the rest of college football, too.