Big 12 Can Now Hold A Championship Game, But Should It?

    The Big 12 can now hold a championship game, but should it? We analyze why a title game might not be the best for the conference.

    January 14, 2016



    According to the Big 12: The DI Council has approved a proposal allowing FBS conferences without 12 members to hold conference championship football games. But should the Big 12 add a title game?


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    Don’t do it, Bob.

    It’s been approved that conferences without 12 teams are allowed to play a championship game, and now the Big 12 is front and center in the spotlight with a chance to take the easy money and attention of the title game without having to add two extra teams.

    It’ll certainly be tempting, but Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby isn’t ready to declare it time to schedule another game quite yet.

    “I appreciate that what was acted upon today takes into account our unique 10-team, full round-robin scheduling model,” said Bolsby. “However, this vote does not automatically mean the Big 12 will implement a football championship game. Our membership will continue to analyze its pros and cons, as we now know the requirements should we decide to go down that path.”

    Now comes the big question the Big 12 will have to figure out – outside of the extra revenue generated, why would the Big 12 do this?

    Would a championship game help the Big 12 in the playoff fight? Probably not.

    It would’ve been an interesting debate if Notre Dame had beaten Stanford this year – would the 11-1 Irish, who beat Texas, get into the playoff over an 11-1 Big 12 champion Oklahoma team that lost to the Longhorns? – but that would’ve been a strange aberration. 2014 was also a bit of a fluke with four worthy Power 5 conference champions to go along with the battle over Big 12 supremacy between 11-1 Baylor and 11-1 TCU.

    Back in 2001 when the Big 12 had 12 teams and the BCS was ruling the post-season world, 11-1 Texas would’ve been the Big 12 champs if there wasn’t a title game, and it probably would’ve made into the BCS Championship. Instead, it lost to Colorado in a 39-37 thriller – after Major Applewhite stepped in and saved Chris Simms – and the Big 12 lost out on a championship shot.

    Most famously, 1998 Kansas State went 11-0 and would’ve made the BCS title game – or a playoff if there was one – but it gagged away the Big 12 title game in the final moments to Texas A&M. The same thing happened to a 1996 Nebraska team that went 10-1, but lost on its championship chance when James Brown and Texas pulled off a shocker.

    Championship games add the fluke factor to the mix, and the Big 12 doesn’t need that.

    Since 2011 – when the Big 12 ceased to have 12 teams – if there was a four-team playoff like there is now, Oklahoma State would’ve been in it. 2012 Kansas State went 11-1 and probably would’ve made the fun, too, and 2013 Baylor would’ve made it, too.

    Again, 2014 was weird, and 2015 Oklahoma got in.

    No championship game might equal a sure-thing playoff spot, and in the case of 2014, if Georgia Tech had upset Florida State in the ACC championship, or if Arizona had beaten Oregon in the Pac-12 title game, or if Missouri had beaten Alabama for the SEC title, there’s a chance the Big 12 would’ve had two teams in. That wouldn’t have been remotely possible if the Horned Frogs and Bears had played in a conference championship.

    But let’s say the Big 12 does this. Let’s say it decides that it’s going to have a championship played in AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas – epicenter of the Big 12 world – between the top two teams in the conference. What would that accomplish that the current round-robin format doesn’t? The Big 12 actually has it right – it has a One True Champion.

    This year, thanks to Baylor losing to Texas, Oklahoma would’ve played Oklahoma State even though it was a 58-23 Sooner blowout in Stillwater to end the regular season.

    2014 would’ve been interesting with Baylor and TCU squaring off, but no matter who won, it still wouldn’t have been enough to get into the playoff over an unbeaten Florida State, Pac-12 champ Oregon, SEC champ Alabama, and a rolling Big Ten champion Ohio State.

    2013 would’ve been an absolute mess. Baylor won the league title outright going 8-1 in conference play and Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Texas all going 7-2. Texas beat OU, OU beat OSU, OSU beat Texas, so who’d have been Baylor’s opponent? If the tie-breaker was the playoff ranking, then it would’ve been Oklahoma in even though it got destroyed by the Bears 41-12.

    Kansas State and Oklahoma were the two most dominant teams in 2012 with each going 8-1, but with the Wildcats winning the Big 12 opener over the Sooners 24-19.

    Oklahoma State and Kansas State would’ve played in the 2011 Big 12 championship, even though OSU won the head-to-head meeting in a 52-45 thriller.

    In other words, competitively, and if the goal is to create a true champion, there’s no need for the conference championship game.

    If the goal is to get into the playoff, there’s no need for the conference championship game.

    There’s no need for the Big 12 conference championship game. The league is just fine as it is.

    But there’s money to be made, so get ready to get your tickets soon for the reemerged Big 12 Conference Championship game, 2017.

    MORE: Way-Too-Early Top 25 College Football Rankings

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