Voting for top team tough for Big 12 coaches.

Monday, November 24, 2008 | 5:57 p.m. CST; updated 8:33 p.m. CST, Friday, November 28, 2008

Oklahoma beat Texas Tech, which beat Texas, which beat Oklahoma. So who’s better?

Coaches from the Big 12 Conference struggled with that question this week as they placed votes that affect the Bowl Championship Series standings. If all three of the teams, each tied at the top of the Big 12 South at 6-1, win their games this week, the BCS rankings will determine who plays Missouri, the North champions, in the Big 12 title game.

Nebraska coach Bo Pelini said he ranked Oklahoma higher than Texas based on his firsthand impression of the Sooners.

“I'm more based on who I've played and what I've seen,” said Pelini, whose team did not play Texas this year. “You could probably go either way in a lot of these instances, but you got to vote the way you see it.”

Pelini revealed his favorite, though most keep their USA Today Coaches Poll picks confidential throughout the season. Only the final ballots are made public.

Missouri coach Gary Pinkel declined to share how he voted this week, saying only that he takes the responsibility “very, very seriously,” and “I do what I think is the right thing to do.”

Texas coach Mack Brown also told reporters he would keep his rankings secret until the final vote.

Oklahoma came out No. 2 in the Coaches Poll, with Texas at No. 4. In the BCS standings, which involve computer rankings, Texas stayed ahead of Oklahoma by .0084 of a point.

Colorado coach Dan Hawkins said the decision was a difficult one, but he compared the quality of each team’s wins.

“You look at some teams beat other teams more than others,” Hawkins said, without disclosing the order of his rankings.

Oklahoma pummeled Texas Tech 65-21 in Norman, while the Red Raiders edged the visiting Longhorns 39-33 in the final minutes of their game. Texas trailed Oklahoma until the end of the third quarter, but came back to win 45-35 at a neutral site.

One coach with a stake in the outcome but no vote is Oklahoma’s Bob Stoops. Stoops declined to vote in this year’s poll for reasons he did not expand on, but cited the limited amount of time to make informed decisions as a major reason.

Does Stoops regret giving up his vote?

“Probably,” he said.

If he still had his say, Stoops said he would look at teams’ recent play.

“There’s arguments for and against everybody, not just us, anyone who’s got one loss,” Stoops said. “That’s just the way it is, but again, I think most logic goes to who’s doing what down the stretch and who’s playing well right now.”

Not surprisingly, those criteria happen to favor his team.

SYNDER NO SURPRISE: Few Big 12 coaches who knew former Kansas State coach Bill Snyder expressed surprise that he would come out of retirement to replace fired coach Ron Prince.“I’ll be honest,” Kansas coach Mark Mangino said, “I was a lot more surprised when he retired than when I heard he was coming back.”

Texas coach Mack Brown said he could easily understand why Snyder would return.

“Every time I see him, he’s missing coaching, missing those kids and missing the excitement of the game,” Brown said. “I’m really excited to see him back because he’s one of the best.”

Brown has another reason to be glad Synder will be back.

“I’m getting to be one of the oldest ones in the meetings, so I like to have somebody as old as I am to talk to in the Big 12 coaches meetings,” Brown said.

Snyder turned 69 in October. Brown is 57.

Snyder, who was retired for three years while Prince had the job, has an 136-68-1 record with the Wildcats.

“He loves the game and does a great job with it,” Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops said. “I’m sure he’ll do another great job.”

THANKFUL FOR THANKSGIVING GAME: Texas and Texas A&M return their rivalry to Thanksgiving this year, and coaches couldn’t be more pleased.

“To be on Thanksgiving Day night and that spotlight, I think not only as a coach is it an honor, but as a player too,” A&M coach Mike Sherman said.

The Aggies and the Longhorns played on Thanksgiving 60 times until the game was moved in 1996. The teams face off on Thursday again this year and next.

“As a child I grew up in a coaching home with my dad and my granddad and we sat on Thursday night, Thanksgiving night and watched the Texas-Texas A&M game,” Texas coach Mack Brown said. “It got to be tradition in our family.”

The coaches said they look forward to the national attention the matchup will receive, especially with the number of in-state students on both teams.

“The game in itself is a testament to Texas high school football and Texas high school football coaches,” Sherman said.


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