Last offseason, OU coach Bob Stoops famously questioned the SEC's hype, particularly the idea that the league was rugged top to bottom.
“We're not playing the bottom half” in the Sugar Bowl, Stoops said Sunday night. “So there's nothing to talk about, right? Playing the bottom half, that's a different story.”
Both OU and Oregon sport 10-2 records. The Ducks are ranked 10th in the final BCS standings, the Sooners 11th, and though Alabama-Oregon was thought to be a dream title game matchup this season, the Sugar Bowl, apparently by gentlemen's agreement with its new partner, chose the Sooners. Oregon can't really squawk; the Rose Bowl long has shown favoritism to the Big Ten and Pac-12 when it comes to BCS selections.
OU athletic director Joe Castiglione likes to say that the Big 12 and SEC partnership with the Sugar Bowl is “very significant” in the big picture of college football. “I think it helped shape the discussion of the College Football Playoff,” Castiglione said.
It certainly shaped these bowl pairings. Not that Bama coach Nick Saban knows a thing about it.
“I didn't even know there was an agreement,” Saban said. “You're asking me about something I don't know. We have a tremendous amount of respect for the Sugar Bowl and the city of New Orleans. We're happy to have the opportunity to play in the Sugar Bowl. They've had a great tradition with the SEC and the University of Alabama. We're excited to be there and play a great opponent. Sounds to me like it's a great game.”
A great game brought about by the Big 12/SEC partnership.