Texas Longhorns backers set to launch '45-35' sign campaign

Posted Wednesday, Nov. 26, 2008  comments  Print Reprints

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Texas students and fans are planning an extensive and high-profile campaign to remind BCS voters about the merits of the Longhorns’ 45-35 victory over Oklahoma on Oct. 11.

Included is a war chest of more than $4,500, part of which will be spent on printing and distribution of 20,000 signs for fans to wave during Thursday’s Texas-Texas A&M game in Austin. Other funds will be used to hire a pilot to fly over Stillwater, Okla. with a pro-Longhorns banner during Saturday’s live telecast of the ESPN College GameDay program.

Matt Parks, creator of the Website 45-35.com, is part of a group that has been collecting funds with the intent to raise awareness about Texas’ head-to-head victory over Oklahoma since voters put the Sooners (10-1, 6-1 in Big 12) ahead of the Longhorns (10-1, 6-1) in both of Sunday’s polls used, along with computer rankings, to set the BCS standings.

Parks said Tuesday that the orange cardboard signs will be 8 inches by 11 inches, with “45-35” emblazoned in white lettering. There will be no advertising or corporate logos. The intent, he said, is to pass them out before Thursday’s game against A&M in hopes they catch the attention of ESPN cameras and, in turn, BCS voters during the telecast.

“We have no intention of trying to shove anything down voters’ throats,” said Parks, a senior from Houston who is majoring in government. Instead, Parks said the group wants to “get the message out there” that head-to-head results should not be overlooked when weighing the merits of one college team against another. Especially the result that occurred in the Cotton Bowl on Oct. 11.

The school’s student newspaper, The Daily Texan, is running a full-page advertisement in today’s editions with the same “45-35” message and color scheme. Jalah Bridwell, the newspaper’s advertising director, said up to 30,000 copies of the ad could be distributed before Thursday’s kickoff. The decision, she said, was made in response to an “overwhelming” response from students who favored the idea.

Texas’ BCS status in relation to Oklahoma is significant because the Longhorns, Sooners and Texas Tech (10-1, 6-1) are tied for first place in the South Division standings. If the teams are tied after Saturday’s final regular-season games, the school that places highest in the BCS standings released Sunday will play for the Big 12 championship.

As things stand, Texas is No. 2 in the BCS, percentage points ahead of No. 3 Oklahoma but well ahead of No. 7 Tech. Jerry Palm, a recognized BCS analyst who runs CollegeBCS.com, said Monday that his projections indicate Oklahoma would “barely” pass Texas in the next round of BCS standings if both teams win this week and voters keep the teams in their current positions in the coaches poll and Harris Interactive poll, the two voter-generated components of the BCS.

Parks said his group hopes to reach those voters. The sticking point: Texas has strict regulations about in-stadium signage at Darrell K. Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium. Banners and oversized signs are not allowed. Parks said that is why organizers selected the 8-by-11 size, adding that he “doesn’t anticipate” resistance in getting them inside the stadium but knows it could be a problem.

Although organizers were hopeful of enlisting an Austin radio station to help fund their cause, that will not be the case.

“That’s not happening,” said Abby Ferguson, director of promotions for KVET/1300 AM, the Longhorns’ flagship station.

Parks said the flyover in Stillwater, where Oklahoma meets Oklahoma State (9-2, 5-2) on Saturday night (7 p.m., ABC), is fully funded but could be canceled if the Longhorns lose Thursday.

Texas fans began their voter awareness campaign Monday by organizing a group on Facebook. As of Tuesday afternoon, Bridwell said the group included more than 7,000 members. One voter in the Harris Interactive poll, which is part of the BCS equation, confirmed receiving recent emails from Texas fans, lobbying for poll position.

John Biano, Texas’ assistant athletic director for media relations, said the campaign efforts are being done “independently,” with no input from school officials.

Jimmy Burch, 817-390-7760

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