A championship game and nonconference partnership with the SEC would be disaster for the Big 12

Graham Watson
January 31, 2013

The Big 12 is likely to seek a waiver to institute a championship game for its 10-team league.

In the past, championship games were only granted to leagues with 12 or more teams, but the Big 12 is trying to buck that trend.

The Big 12 and Big East are the only major conferences without a conference championship game.

"At a time when lots of deregulation is taking place, it seems a little bit odd that the NCAA would be describing how we determine our champions," Bowlsby said Wednesday night, when he watched the Iowa State-Oklahoma State men's basketball game.

"I think it's reasonable to say if you're going to have a champion that you're going to have to designate it in one fashion or another. But to say it has to be between 12 schools or that there has to be divisional play or there has to be a round-robin, we're deregulating lots of things and that certainly is a candidate."

By doing this, Bowlsby is trying to keep the Big 12 on par with its other major conference counterparts, but is it the right decision?

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The Big 12 already implemented a nine-game conference schedule, which forces each member of the league to play every other member – a decision that has cost the Big 12 a spot in the national championship each of the last two seasons. Two years ago, Oklahoma State, which was in prime position for a national championship berth, lost to Iowa State, and last year, No. 1 Kansas State fell to Baylor. Both Iowa State and Baylor were sub-.500 teams, but after an already grueling conference schedule both teams were ripe for upsets.

Moreover, Bowlsby said he’s working with other leagues to establish partnerships for non-conference games, most notably against the SEC, though the talks have been limited. So not only would a potential national championship contender have to run the gauntlet of the Big 12 schedule and play in a conference title game, it would also have to face the likes of Alabama, Florida, LSU or Texas A&M?


Even the SEC, which is widely considered the strongest of college football conferences, doesn’t put its teams through that daunting a schedule. And what would be the payoff? We already know teams can play modest schedules and still work their way into the national championship (looking at you 2011-12 Alabama). So why beef up your schedule to the point of almost exiling your teams out of the race? Yes, if a team can get through the Big 12 slate and an SEC game unscathed it deserves to be in the national championship, but it doesn’t have to be that difficult.

I know all of these leagues are trying to figure out the best way to position themselves for the impending playoff. And with the uncertainty of how all that is going to shake out, perhaps you beef up your schedule to make your league/team a little more attractive. But there’s no point in setting up a team or league for failure.

Right now, that’s where the Big 12 is headed.

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