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Beyond the Fort: Unnecessary apologies, Kansas head coach Les Miles, and more

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Are we really not allowed to enjoy the rivalries anymore?

Iowa State v Texas Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images

Three days remain until TCU football concludes the 2018 regular season under the lights at Amon G. Carter Stadium vs. Oklahoma State. Bowl-eligibility will be on the line for the ever-depleted Horned Frogs (5-6, 3-5 Big 12) as they face a Cowboys offense that has found its groove in recent outings behind quarterback Taylor Cornelius and others.

Meanwhile, there’s a mad-dash for two spots in the Big 12 Championship Game occurring throughout the rest of the conference, and plenty can change by the time Thanksgiving weekend passes.

Here’s the latest bird’s eye view of the league as we get that much closer to crowning the 2018 Big 12 Champion on Dec. 1 at AT&T Stadium.

Big 12 reprimands Breckyn Hager

It’s not too often that one sees Oklahoma fans and Texas fans coming to agreement on things, but both sides were quick to rush to Longhorns defensive end Breckyn Hager’s defense earlier this week after the Big 12 forced him to issue a public apology for his playful jab at his team’s heated rival Saturday night.

Hager, following the Longhorns’ 24-10 victory over Iowa State, told reporters “Oklahoma still sucks” after being informed during his interviews that the Sooners had allowed Kansas to score 40 points in Norman that same night. The Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby stated that Hager violated the conference’s sportsmanship rules, to which Hager issued a forced apology on Monday.

To no surprise, neither side reacted fondly to how the Big 12 handled the entire situation, given the historic rivalry between the Sooners and Longhorns, and the good-natured mockery of each other that both fan bases regular engage in. Fans, columnists and even several former players have been quick to label the league “soft” in wake of the events.

Should Oklahoma and Texas both win on Friday, the teams will face-off for a second time this season when the Big 12 Championship Game arrives. Interesting? You bet.

Kansas head coach Les Miles

The rumors we all heard were true. Les Miles is back in the Big 12 after officially being introduced by athletic director Jeff Long as the new head coach of Kansas football on Sunday. Miles who previously coached at Oklahoma State before a stint that saw him win a national championship at LSU, has not coached since his firing from Baton Rouge in September 2016.

How the hiring will look for a struggling Jayhawks program several years down the road is a mystery, but one thing is for sure, and it’s that Kansas now has a marquee name that is certain to at least boost their perception, recruiting and attendance in the interim. Still, it appears Miles is a tad bit rusty when it comes to press conferences after what we saw earlier in the week.

Oh the joys of college football.

Mad dash for bowl eligibility

If you thought the Horned Frogs were the only Big 12 team fighting for bowl-eligibility this Saturday, well, think again.

Kansas State, Baylor and Texas Tech — the latter two play each other at AT&T Stadium on Saturday — all sit at 5 wins entering the weekend. As it stands, half of the league has secured bowl eligibility, and at least either Texas Tech or Baylor is guaranteed to join the party as a sixth team on Saturday. Should Kansas State and TCU also prevail in their regular-season finales, the Big 12 would have eight bowl-eligible teams for the second consecutive season — indeed a testament to the parity of the conference this fall. K-State’s task will be tall however, as the Wildcats face a road battle at No. 25 Iowa State. Still, stranger things have happened in 2018.

The latest playoff picture

The Big 12 continued to get a surprising amount of respect in the latest College Football Playoff rankings show on Tuesday, though Oklahoma is the league’s last chance of a playoff berth after West Virginia endured its second loss of the season on Saturday at Oklahoma State.

The Sooners, despite surrendering 40 points to Kansas, held their ground at No. 6 amid another offensive outburst, while the Mountaineers only fell to No. 13 after being upset 45-41 in Stillwater. Three-loss Texas moved up a spot to No. 14 while Iowa State, despite sitting at four losses, held on for the final spot in the rankings at No. 25, giving the Big 12 four teams in the top 25 for yet another week.

Barring any radical decisions by the committee, the path forward for Oklahoma to earn a return trip to the playoff fairly simple: Win out, have Alabama finish the season undefeated (that would entail a second loss to Georgia in the SEC title game) and pray that either Michigan, Notre Dame or Clemson lose before the dust settles.

Of course, there’s a chance that Ohio State and Washington State could end the year alongside the Sooners as a one-loss conference champion and create a bottleneck, but Oklahoma already sits at least two spots ahead of both teams and will get a chance to record another top 15 win on Friday to secure a spot in the title game. If the Sooners take care of business and the rest of the cards fall their way, only changing opinions on the committee’s end could hypothetically keep them out.