Plenty of reasons to hear 'Go Big Red'
BY DAVE SITTLER World Sports Writer
Wednesday, December 02, 2009
12/02/09 at 10:53 AM
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MOTIVATION WON'T be a problem when it comes to Oklahoma football fans cheering for No. 21 Nebraska to upset No. 3 Texas in Saturday's Big 12 Conference championship game.
If you haven't heard, the universities on opposite sides of the Red River are not border buddies. Back in the day, when Russia was the bad guy, a good number of OU and Texas fans would rather have rooted for coach Nikita Khrushchev's team if it was playing the other's mortal border enemy.
OK, I jest. Sooner supporters probably would have just sat it out, not pulling for either side in a Texas-USSR game. Ditto for Longhorn fanatics in an OU-USSR showdown.
The Cold War may be over and the Berlin Wall history, but no truce has been called in the Red River Rivalry. And don't expect to see it happen in your lifetime, or for those future generations who will proudly carry the legacy of hate on one Saturday in October at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas.
But just in case Sooner diehards need a reason to scream their lungs out for the Cornhuskers, I have three — more bowl money, better bowl location and no Texas national title.
Here's the deal: OU's 27-0 whipsawing of Oklahoma State in last Saturday's Bedlam blowout could potentially cost the Big 12 a cool $4.5 million in bowl revenue.
The Big 12 will make approximately $18.5 million for the automatic BCS bowl bid that goes to Saturday's winner. But the conference would have raked in another $4.5 million had the Cowboys showed up in Norman last week and earned an at-large BCS bowl bid with a win.
A Fiesta Bowl berth was there for OSU's taking. That way, the Big 12 would have been guaranteed two of those lucrative, precious BCS bids, with the second spot going to the Texas-Nebraska winner.
That's why Big 12 officials were smiling through the pain when they congratulated OU coach Bob Stoops and athletic director Joe Castiglione on the Bedlam victory. They had just watched a guaranteed $4.5 million vanish at a time when conferences are fighting for every extra dollar to survive this country's economic crisis.
Nebraska (9-3, 6-2 Big 12) can recoup those lost millions by upsetting Texas (12-0, 8-0) in the title game, which is set for a 7:13 p.m. start at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas. The Cornhuskers would go to the Fiesta Bowl and make $18.5 million, while Texas would still play in a BCS game, adding to the $4.5 million a league gets for a second BCS team.
Sure, a Cornhusker win would cost Texas and the Big 12 a shot at the BCS national championship, but it wouldn't cost them a dime in bowl bucks. Each conference belonging to the BCS receives $18.5 million for sending its champion to a BCS bowl, even if it isn't the championship game.
So not only would OU make more money, its bitter rival would also lose a national title shot if Nebraska wins. You can almost hear Sooners fans now, as they quote one of those former bad-guy Russians who came over to the good side, Yakov Smirnoff: "What a country!"
Wait, there's more.
If your team isn't in a BCS bowl, there are only three things that matter — location, location, location.
A Texas loss would mean each of the Big 12's bowl eligible teams would move up one spot in the league's bowl pecking order because of the league's two BCS bids.
If that happens, OU is almost a lock for a trip to San Antonio to play in the Alamo Bowl on Jan. 2. Under the Nebraska-wins scenario, it's also possible OU could earn a ticket to San Diego and the Holiday Bowl on Dec. 30.
But if Texas wins the Big 12 title, the Longhorns are headed for the national championship game and odds are the Sooners will wind up in El Paso for the Sun Bowl on Dec. 31.
Let's see: San Antonio, San Diego, El Paso? Location, location, location.
"Currently, we think our pool of Big 12 teams is Texas Tech and Oklahoma," Alamo Bowl CEO Derrick Fox wrote in an e-mail. "And our Big Ten pool is Michigan State and Minnesota.
"The Big 12 Championship outcome may impact our pool of teams. I know everyone is painting Nebraska in the Holiday Bowl. But if they (Huskers) win, who does the Holiday select?"
The Holiday Bowl is one step ahead of the Alamo Bowl in the Big 12's eight-bowl lineup. So logic suggests Texas Tech (8-4, 5-3) would be San Diego-bound because the Red Raiders finished with a better overall record than OU (7-5, 5-3) and also whipped the Sooners three weeks ago, 41-13.
If Mike Leach's team is packing for California, the Sooners should be partying on San Antonio's famous River Walk, and the Alamo Bowl will finally have OU in its game for the first time.
Let's review: A Texas loss means no spot for the Longhorns in the national championship game, and more cash for the Sooners to spend on a trip to either San Antonio or San Diego.
Now you should understand that when OU fans repeatedly scream "Go Big Red" on Saturday, there are plenty of reasons why their cheers won't be for their beloved Sooners or coach Nikita's Russians.