The Missouri Tigers celebrate after beating the Iowa State Cyclones 34-24 in Columbia, Mo., on Saturday, Nov. 21, 2009. (Photo credit: Nathan Giannini for KMOV) By Nathan Giannini
Missouri wide receiver Jared Perry celebrates after catching a pass for a 38-yard gain during the second quarter of an NCAA college football game against Nebraska on Thursday, Oct. 8, 2009, in Columbia, Mo. (AP Photo/L.G. Patterson) By L.G. Patterson
Missouri quarterback Blaine Gabbert throws during the first quarter of an NCAA college football game against Nebraska on Thursday, Oct. 8, 2009, in Columbia, Mo. (AP Photo/L.G. Patterson) By L.G. Patterson
COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) -- The Big 12 Conference's postseason selection process has Missouri wondering how it lost out to a team with a worse regular season record.
The conference allows its bowl game partners to select any eligible team, regardless of win-loss records or head-to-head results.
That means 6-6 Iowa State advanced to the Insight Bowl in Tempe, Ariz., while 8-4 Missouri heads to the Texas Bowl in Houston for a Dec. 31 game against Navy. Missouri defeated the Cyclones 34-21 on Nov. 21.
Attempts by Missouri officials to lobby the Insight Bowl as well as the conference were unsuccessful, the Columbia Daily Tribune reported Monday. Chancellor Brady Deaton was among those seeking a better bid for the school.
"People believe that the pecking order is related to your competitiveness, and the reality is that it's not," Missouri athletics director Mike Alden said. "Our league has to keep communicating to our fan base: 'This is what we've sold. This is why we've done it. So please, try not to correlate where the pick is to the value of your team."'
The loss of an Insight Bowl bid will cost Missouri. The Texas Bowl provides an estimated $877,000 in travel costs, compared to roughly $1.34 million from the Arizona bowl game.
This is the third year in a row where Missouri officials are scratching their heads.
In 2008, Missouri(9-4) went to the Alamo Bowl after the Gator Bowl passed on the Tigers in favor of Nebraska (8-4) -- a team Missouri had beaten by 35 points earlier in the season.
And in 2007, the Orange Bowl selected Kansas (11-1) as its BCS at-large choice over Missouri (11-2), even though the Tigers defeated the Jayhawks in the regular-season finale. Missouri instead went to the Cotton Bowl and defeated Arkansas.
This year, Missouri dropped to the conference's eighth and final selection among bowl-eligible teams. The Independence Bowl opted for another Big 12 team with as many wins as losses, Texas A&M (6-6).
Missouri Coach Gary Pinkel called the conference selection process "frustrating" but chose to focus on the positive after learning of the Texas Bowl bid.
Besides playing a Navy team that beat Notre Dame and narrowly lost to Rose Bowl-bound Ohio State, the Tigers will return to a state that is fertile recruiting territory. The Dec. 31 game will be broadcast on ESPN rather than the less readily available NFL Network, which has rights to the Insight Bowl.
Some Missouri players acknowledged their confusion about bowl bid distributions.
"I don't know how it works," said nose tackle Jaron Baston. "All I know is, I get a phone call and they tell me where I'm going."
Unlike the Big 12, conferences such as the Pac-10, Big Ten and ACC have more stringent guidelines when it comes to selecting teams for bowl games and place a greater emphasis on regular season records and head-to-head matchups.
Information from the Columbia Daily Tribune, www.columbiatribune.com
(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)