Big 12 Learns a Hard Lesson
“It would have been nice to have been told that ahead of time.” With that quote the commissioner of the Big 12 conference went on record that something needs to change in the conference that went from potentially having two teams in the initial College Football Playoff to having zero teams participate. Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby, is either naive or stupid, quite possibly both, to think that he needed to be told that the rest of the Power Five Conferences playing season-ending conference championship games, would have an advantage over his ten-team conference without one. Alabama, Oregon, Florida State and Ohio State all ended their seasons on Saturday with conference championship games pitting two highly ranked teams against each other. At the same time, TCU and Baylor merely played the final regular season games on their Big 12 schedule. In the case of Baylor it was a match-up with highly ranked Kansas State, but for TCU it was doormat Iowa State.
Even if the Frogs demolished the Cyclones, which they did 55-3, they weren’t going to gain any ground or credibility. Baylor, by the luck of the draw, faced a very good K-State team, so their win meant something in the final voting by the Playoff Committee. The Frogs dropped all the way from 3rd in the next to last poll to 6th in the final poll. Baylor jumped from 6th to 5th after beating Kansas State. The big winner was Ohio State which jumped TCU and moved from 5th to 4th and grabbed the final playoff spot. Ohio State won the Big 10 championship game, 59-0 over No. 11 Wisconsin. In doing so, the committee was so impressed that they decided that the Buckeyes were better than both Big 12 teams.
That leaves the Big 12 with a decision to make. Either leave things as they are and hope someone survives the Big 12 schedule undefeated, or add two more teams to meet the NCAA criteria of needing at least 12 teams for a conference championship game. The better bet is that Bowlsby and the school presidents will immediately start calling SMU, Houston, Tulane or Texas Women’s University to find 2 more schools to add ASAP. If say, Baylor and TCU had played in a conference championship game on Saturday, the odds are pretty good that Ohio State wouldn’t have jumped over the winner to claim the final spot. At least it would have been a lot higher leap than it was this year. The Big 12 needed an upset this year to help their cause. If Florida State had lost the ACC title game to Georgia Tech, or Wisconsin had beaten the Buckeyes, it would have been too big a jump to have the winner move into the 4th playoff spot. But there weren’t any Saturday upsets–unless you count the alumni, coaches, players, administration and cheerleaders from TCU and Baylor. Another thought is this; what if instead of Baylor and TCU the top two teams in the Big 12 had ended up being Texas and Oklahoma? Would it have been as easy to leap frog those traditional powers as it was for the two small, church affiliated, private schools? The committee claims it didn’t discuss potential playoff match ups but we’d all be naive if we didn’t look at this like the rest of the country–and the TV networks–and say, Alabama/Ohio State sure has more potential for a huge audience than Alabama/Baylor. I say the Big 12 should play with 10 teams or move up to 12 or even 16…and just put it in the bylaws that no matter the records, either Texas or OU is named champion at the end of the season.