Just a few years ago, Big 12 officials thought they had it all planned out. As rumor after rumor of cornerstones Oklahoma and Texas leaving for what would possibly be the PAC-16, or an SEC with as many as 16 teams came to the surface, the conference was already losing schools like Colorado to the PAC-12. Then, the bottom really seemed to fall out when Missouri and Texas A&M both left for greener pastures in the SEC. All three of these universities left the Big 12 for the same reasons. They were all running away from the monopoly that was forming in Austin Texas. The Longhorn ESPN Network and the advantages it gave the University of Texas forced their hand and created an uncertainty of whether the Big 12 would be able to weather the storm of expansion in college football. The conference basically let it happen to keep Texas happy and nearly shut the conference down. It looked like doomsday in the nation’s heartland. But, the two cornerstones of the conference decided to stay, and everything seemed to fall into place after that. At least in the eyes of the Big 12’s brain-trust.
The conference did lose Nebraska to the Big Ten. Which was a pretty big hit. But, the conference did manage to gain TCU and West Virginia. The Big 12 wasn’t exactly the Big 12 anymore, because there were only 10 teams left. However, acquiring TCU and West Virginia meant the Big 12 welcomed two programs that were flourishing in football. So, even though the conference was hit hard by the teams that exited. At least the Big 12 was still alive and still a Power-5 Conference.
But, how could the Big 12 be content with staying at 10 teams? It just didn’t seem possible that the league could make it against other conferences that had at least two more schools competing. There were discussions with schools like Louisville, and even Florida State. But, none of those rumors came to fruition. So, it became increasingly obvious that the Big 12 was just going to have to remain a 10-team league.
Big 12 officials quickly implemented a plan where all teams would play each other once per season in football. They also did away with the Championship Game, saying they were fine with 10 teams and didn’t need to expand since the champion would be decided on the field. No other conference could make that claim. To their credit, the Big 12 made a big deal out of this. They even went so far as to allow certain teams to play on the first Saturday in December. That week is normally designated for conference championship games. Not regular season games. This was nothing but a ploy to try and make it seem like those teams were playing an extra (13th) game. Unfortunately for the Big 12, the Playoff Selection Committee can count. They know that even though Baylor, and TCU played last weekend. They were playing only their 12th game. While teams like Ohio State were playing their 13th.
Big 12 fans, and officials want you to believe the selection committee fumbled the ball, so to speak, and were biased in leaving Baylor and TCU out of the 4-team playoff, in favor of Ohio State. In reality, this ball was fumbled by the Big 12 several years ago, and the Ohio State Buckeyes were happy to recover.
How is the Big 12 at fault you ask?
First and foremost, the Big 12 allowed the University of Texas to have too much power. No other school, besides Notre Dame and BYU have the freedom and authority the Longhorns have in major college football. Neither of those schools belong to a conference, at least not in football. That authority is definitely the reason Texas A&M left, and is the main reason schools like Nebraska and Missouri left also. Those departures left a void that the conference has not been able to completely fill.
Secondly, doing away with the championship game was the direct result of that void. Therefore, Baylor and TCU were put at a disadvantage when compared with teams like Ohio State, who played a championship game on Saturday. It wasn’t just that the Buckeyes were so darned impressive against a good Wisconsin team. It’s because it was a championship game. It didn’t have to be 59-0. It simply meant more for the Buckeyes to win their 12th game in 13 tries, than it did for Baylor to beat Kansas State for it’s 11th win in 12 tries. A championship game is also a lot more sexy than a regular season game to a television audience. It was also more sexy to the selection committee.
That’s not to say they didn’t make mistakes. Overall, the committee did a pretty good job. Especially, for this being their first rodeo in this playoff thing. But, I think it’s highly questionable if Ohio State is better than TCU or Baylor. Especially, with their 3rd string QB under center. It also, made no sense at all for the committee to rank TCU 3rd in front of Florida State in their preceding poll. Committee chair, Jeff Long, contends that the difference between 3rd and 6th place was very small at that time. Try going to Ft. Worth and telling that to fans of the Horned Frogs. If the committee had ranked TCU 4th, there probably wouldn’t have been quite as much backlash as we’ve heard over the last couple of days. Actually, I thought Baylor should be ahead of TCU, due to them beating the Frogs head-to-head, anyway.
Regardless, while being very predictable, dropping TCU in the rankings behind Ohio State looked bad. I don’t blame TCU fans, coaches, and players for being upset. They’re just upset at the wrong set of people. Well, maybe not the wrong set of people. They just need to add a few names to that list. Namely, the Big 12 officials that made the critical mistakes several years ago. Amazingly, it seems that they still haven’t learned. Big 12 commissioner, Bob Bowlsby said in an interview: that he wished the selection committee would have told him that having a conference championship game was part of the criteria they looked at. Huh?
I rest my case…….