Following Baylor’s 38-27 win over Kansas State on Saturday night, Art Briles took turns pounding his chest in the general direction of both Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby and the College Football Playoff selection committee, particularly ex-coaches Tom Osborne, Barry Alvarez and Tyrone Willingham.
“I’m not obligated to (Bowlsby). I’m obligated to Baylor University and our football team,” Briles said after cameras caught him in a tense exchange with Bowlsby on the podium. “And we just happen to be a part of the Big 12. And we happen to be the champion two years in a row. So they need to be obligated to us, because we’re helping the Big 12’s image in the nation.”
He then challenged the ex-coaches to view his Bears as they would view their own teams. “Coach (Tom) Osborne, who’s a Hall of Fame coach: If Nebraska had our résumé, would you have them in the final four?” Briles said. “Barry Alvarez with Wisconsin: If Wisconsin had our résumé, would you have them in the final four? Tyrone Willingham. Stanford, Washington, Notre Dame. If they had our résumé, would you vote them in the final four? That would be my case. Look at the résumés and then make a decision.”
It was a valiant effort, but it didn’t work. Baylor passed TCU, but it could not pass Ohio State. The Bears were ranked fifth, and instead of a Sugar Bowl date with No. 1 Alabama, they’ll settle for a Cotton Bowl berth against No. 8 Michigan State.
Speaking after the announcement on Sunday, Briles petitioned that regional bias is what did the Bears in.
“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 told ESPN.com. “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.”
The Big 12 is represented on the committee by West Virginia athletics director Oliver Luck, but he’s not exactly a born-and-bred Southerner. Luck was raised in Cleveland and played at West Virginia well before the Mountaineers were rubbing elbows with the likes of Texas, Baylor and Oklahoma.
For his part, Briles had a few names in mind to make the 2015 committee a little more Southern-fried, offering former Texas Tech coach Spike Dykes, former Texas coach Mack Brown and former Texas A&M coach R.C. Slocum on SportsCenter as candidates he’d like to be considered.
“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.”
Is it paranoia? Sure. But it’s hard to blame Briles after a cosmic turn of events saw Ohio State’s 59-0 win on Saturday night come against the very team whose athletics director happens to be an influential member of the selection committee, and someone who happens to be a College Football Hall of Fame coach, in Alvarez.
Briles also stated – correctly – that the Big 12’s One True Champion slogan worked against Baylor, downgrading both his Bears and co-champion TCU. “I think the way the format played out, the waters got muddied a couple weeks ago with saying we’d be presented as co-champs. I think that hurt the cause for both of us, quite honestly.”
So while Baylor’s righteously frustrated coach spent his Saturday night and Sunday afternoon offering pointed and thought-provoking criticism of both the Big 12 and the College Football Playoff selection committee, there is one major point he managed to ignore: had the Bears played a tougher non-conference schedule, none of these suggestions would be necessary.