Quick, name the four Big 12 Conference football teams that gave their fans the opportunity to spend their extra cash on Christmas presents instead of bowl trips.
Answer: Kansas, Baylor, Texas A&M; and Missouri.
Texas A&M; was bowl qualified at 6-6, but the Aggies are in a coaching-athletic director transition period and the administration wasn't all that interested in the postseason. Missouri may have been the best team in the country to fall one win short of the mandatory six victories.
Putting it another way, you can readily see the mountain Kansas and Baylor - which will introduce Guy Morriss as head coach Wednesday- have to climb.
In one area, however, the bowls provide the only football equality in the Big 12. All dozen league schools will receive the same amount of money from the pot left over after expenses.
Last year each school banked $1,287,000, but that figure should dip because two of the eight teams selected after the 2001 season - Nebraska and Colorado - were in BCS games, and Oklahoma is the lone league school to reach the elite level this time.
Here's a quick look at the Big 12 postseason:
Tangerine Bowl (Monday, Dec. 23, Orlando) - Too bad Texas Tech (8-5) couldn't land a bowl with a better television kickoff time. Free-wheeling Red Raiders will meet Clemson (7-5) at 4:30 p.m. At least the crowd-pleasing Red Raiders will get to go to Florida to showcase their considerable offensive wares. Little known fact: In Lubbock, Texas Tech averaged 49.1 points a game. Wow.
Houston Bowl (Friday, Dec. 27, Houston) - Oklahoma State (7-5) was the mirror image of Iowa State, starting slowly but winning five of its last six. Cowboys and K-State were league's best teams in last three weeks. Resurgent 'Pokes should have large following in Houston, but so should Southern Miss (7-5).
Independence Bowl (Friday, Dec. 27, Shreveport, La.) - How the mighty have fallen. Who would have thunk Nebraska (7-6) would ever have to settle for the least appealing bowl site in America? No doubt many of the Big Red horde that follows the Cornhuskers to bowl games will stay home. In fact, for the first time in recent memory, the opposing team (Mississippi) may have more boosters in the stands than the Huskers.
Holiday Bowl (Friday, Dec. 27, San Diego) - Yeah, the Wildcats were shafted. What else is new? Although a national power for most of the last decade, K-State (10-2) simply doesn't stir the juices of corporate suits who perceive the Sunflower State as a vast television wasteland with limited marketability. Why unranked Arizona State (8-5)? Most likely because the burgeoning Phoenix metropolitan area boasts bountiful TV demographics.
Alamo Bowl (Saturday, Dec. 28, San Antonio) - Colorado (9-4) probably deserved a better fate, but this is the bowl selection process and all is fair in love, war and the BCS. What did Wisconsin (7-6) do to land this assignment? Bodies. The Badgers have one of the largest fan followings in America. If Col. Travis had as many troops as Wisconsin has Cheeseheads, Davy Crockett would have died an old man.
Humanitarian Bowl (Tuesday, Dec. 31, Boise, Idaho) - After an inhumanitarian second-half schedule, it was only fitting the Cyclones wound up in this bowl. Iowa State wants to atone for its shocking season-ending home loss to Connecticut, but Boise State is 11-1, playing at home and the Cyclones seem to have lost their stinger.
Cotton Bowl (Wednesday, Jan. 1, Dallas) - Favorite game of sports writers, bar none, because of its 10 a.m. kickoff and no deadline pressure. Not the favorite game of Big 12 Conference chief financial officers, however, because they know if Texas hadn't fallen to Texas Tech the Longhorns would have been playing in a high-dollar bowl. Louisiana State (8-4) conjures no visions of potential incentive of UT, so look out.
Rose Bowl (Wednesday, Jan. 1, Pasadena, Calif.) - Not exactly the marquee match television wanted, but nevertheless an intriguing duel because it is so unusual to see a Big 12 team playing in the Granddaddy of Them All. If not the World Series, Oklahoma (11-2) against Washington State (11-2) nevertheless boasts the appealing ambiance of an interleague baseball game.