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Vote killed possible Orange Bowl battle
Game would have paired BCS No. 3 and 4

By Jake Trotter and John Helsley Published: December 19, 2007
NORMAN — Oklahoma vs. Virginia Tech, on the surface, may appear no more sexier a matchup than OU-West Virginia.

But a Hokies-Sooners meeting in the Orange Bowl, which would have paired the BCS No. 3 and 4 teams, was set.

An agreement was worked between the Orange and Fiesta bowls, putting OU in Miami and sending Kansas to Phoenix, only to be squashed by a vote of conference commissioners, sources confirmed to The Oklahoman.

But why would the commissioners put the kibosh on the switch? Could a possible motive be to protect the BCS title game, pitting Ohio State and LSU, in a season ruled by chaos and possibly at risk of a split national champion should Nos. 3 and 4 meet?

Those were the questions posed by Sports Illustrated's Stewart Mandel, who first reported the vetoed agreement on the magazine's Web site late Monday.

A source close to the negotiations said that while the switch — allowed by a written clause in the BCS process — was disallowed, there was no evidence suggesting any thought toward a muddled national title picture.

"It never came up,” the source said. "It was never discussed in the whole conversation.”

Instead, the source said, the failure to sign off on the lineup change may simply be attributed to a matter of comfort by the commissioners.

The clause does exist, allowing commissioners to "adjust the pairings… after the completion of the selection process.”

Reasons to consider such adjustments include a situation where a team would be playing in the same bowl for a second straight year — in this case OU — and where an alternate pairing may create more appeal to fans.

Contractually, the Big 12 champion is obligated to go to the Fiesta and the ACC champion is tied in with the Orange.

But the Orange and Fiesta bowls had agreed to swap Big 12 teams, with OU athletic director Joe Castiglione appealing to Fiesta officials for the opportunity to play the highest-ranked opponent possible.

The Fiesta didn't mind getting Kansas, making its first BCS appearance and its first trip to a major bowl since 1969. The Orange liked the idea of matching No.

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