Mac Engel

TCU or Baylor deserved a shot, but the Big 12 did not

This award-winning column space was originally reserved for the Rose Bowl between Florida State and Oregon, but circumstances have changed to inspire a well-deserved sports rant.

Covering another Rose Bowl is something I will never tire of, but at this moment having seen Oregon and Florida State up close, I am not inspired to write fawning words about Marcus Mariota, Jameis Winston or University of Oregon team owner Phil Knight.

At this moment, having witnessed the neutering of both Texas and Oklahoma on Monday, a reality check is in order for the one conference, and one region, that was left out of college football’s new big party. The right and left coasts are laughing at us in Middle Earth, amused that our alleged football superiority has been exposed as a myth.

Somehow, the Big 12 is regarded on the same level as the Big Ten. But it is worse. The Big Ten at least has a Final Four representative.

Considering the amount of resources, money, time and effort the great state a’ Texas invests in football, not having a team in the Rose Bowl or Sugar Bowl is a Lone Star embarrassment. I include Oklahoma in this rant because Sooners coach Bob Stoops needs most of our players in order to win.

TCU should be at the Rose Bowl. Or Baylor should be at the Rose Bowl. Or the Sugar Bowl. But neither is here in LA or in New Orleans because the BCS-Plus 2 doesn’t think either is worthy.

Even if you don’t like Baylor or TCU, a team from Texas should be in one of these games. But no team from Middle Earth is in the semifinals because the national perception is that the Big 12 is down, and that there is a better brand of football being played in the Southeast and the West Coast.

If that is indeed correct, then football in Texas is nothing more than political pork; a bridge to nowhere.

Last year, Florida State broke the Southeastern Conference’s streak of seven consecutive national titles. Before the SEC streak, it was Vince Young and Texas winning it here in SoCal. The game was so long ago that VY is out of the NFL and back in Austin, Mack Brown has “retired,” Texas A&M is no longer in the Big 12 and The Longhorn Network can no longer justify showing that 2006 Rose Bowl win over USC on a 24-hour loop.

Meanwhile, the SEC thrives. Alabama once again is No. 1, and will likely win the big trophy at JerryWorld in another week.

I asked Florida State defensive end Mario Edwards (who played at Denton Ryan) why he believes the Southeast dominates so thoroughly, even though his Seminoles are nine-point ’dogs to Oregon.

“I just think we have big athletes, fast athletes, and we are just able to do so many things,” he said.

And we don’t? How much more money, time and resources do we need to spend to catch these guys?

Right now, it is an easy argument to make that football is better in the Southeast, and the Big 12 is indeed down. Most responsible for this sports travesty is not Big 12 boss Bob Bowlsby, but Mack Brown at Texas and Bob Stoops at Oklahoma.

What Brown left Charlie Strong to work with on offense, especially at quarterback, may be the single biggest middle finger ever extended by an outgoing head coach.

Watching UT lose 31-7 to Arkansas in the Whatever Bowl on Monday evening certainly caused the late great Darrell K Royal to roll over in his grave. Watching Oklahoma lose 40-6 to Clemson in the WhyAreWeHere Bowl a few hours earlier was funny, until it grew pathetic and sad.

No matter how much Baylor and TCU clean up, the Frogs and Bears can only do so much. They need Bevo and Boomer, too. Throw in T. Boone’s millions at Oklahoma State, and it wouldn’t kill Coach Bro at Texas Tech to assemble a winning record here shortly.

The Big 12 doesn’t need a title game to alter the perception that the conference has quality.

If the Big 12 wants a team in the Final Four, it needs Texas and Oklahoma not to be jokes, for TCU, Baylor and Kansas State to remain competitive, and for Tech and T. Boone State to get with it. The reason the SEC West gets a pass nationwide is because every team is good — and everybody knows it.

TCU or Baylor merited a shot at the Rose Bowl or Sugar Bowl, but both were punished not because of Bowlsby but rather because of Mack and Stoops.

TCU and Baylor did their part, it would be nice of UT and OU to do theirs now, too.

Follow Mac Engel on The Big Mac Blog at star-telegram.com/sports.

Mac Engel, 817-390-7697

Twitter: @macengelprof

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