Why the overreaching Big 12 will have No True Champion

Bob Bowlsby (right) crowns one of the Big 12’s many titlists. (Tony Gutierrez/AP)

Bob Bowlsby (right) crowns one of the Big 12's many titlists. (Tony Gutierrez/AP)

Bob Bowlsby (right) crowns one of the Big 12’s many titlists. (Tony Gutierrez/AP)

I have no sympathy for the Big 12. The conference sought to finesse the committee and got finessed out of the College Football Playoff. It wasn’t just that the Big 12 is no longer big enough to hold a championship game. (The NCAA requires 12 teams for that; the Big 12 has, er, 10.) It was that Bob Bowlsby, the league’s commissioner, tried to game the nascent system by declaring two champions.

Because it never gets old, we note yet again: The Big 12’s slogan is “One True Champion.”

It’s entirely possibly that the committee would have bumped Ohio State above TCU and kept the Buckeyes above Baylor in the final rankings had Bowlsby not declared his intent to present two Big 12 champs to the CFP folks. It’s also possible that, in trying to differentiate between TCU and Baylor, the committee looked so hard at both profiles that it said, “Know what? Neither of these beats Ohio State.”

In the end, Oklahoma — long the conference flagship — might have cost the Big 12 its spot in the Final Four. The Sooners were picked No. 1 in preseason by Sporting News and No. 3 in the Associated Press poll, and they wound up going 8-4. (Nebraska, once a Big 12 member, went 9-3 and fired its coach.) Oklahoma’s crash — the Sooners lost at home Saturday to 5-6 Oklahoma State — diminished TCU’s second-best win (after Kansas State) and Baylor’s third-best (after TCU and Kansas State).

But the Big 12’s biggest error was in not following common sense and declaring Baylor its champ on the basis of its victory over TCU. When your calling card is that every conference team has to play every other conference team, head-to-head must mean something. In trying to slip two teams into the playoff, the Big 12 wound up with none. The other Power Five leagues all crowned on-the-field champions over the weekend; those four will grace the semifinals.

Yes, it was odd that TCU beat Iowa State by 52 points Saturday and dropped from No. 3 to No. 6 Sunday, but here I cut the committee some slack. Left to its devices, I’m sure the committee would prefer to do it the way the NCAA basketball committee does it — issue no rankings except for the entire bracket on Selection Sunday. But ESPN is paying a lot of money to televise the CFP, and those Tuesday shows that included chairman Jeff Long’s not-entirely-coherent weekly briefings made for Good TV and subsequent overheated conversation across the Worldwide Leader’s many platforms.

For its first try, the committee did pretty well. If it sometimes seemed to be making things up as it went along, that was because it was making things up as it went along. This was Year 1, and the CFP has, in my view if not Bob Bowlsby’s, the right foursome. And I’m reasonably certain the Big 12 commish is on the phone right now trying to rustle up two more members — is Georgia State interested? — so the Big 12 can play a championship game come 2015.

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61 comments
forexbomb
forexbomb

Yes, it was odd that TCU beat Iowa State by 52 points Saturday and dropped from No. 3 to No. 6 Sunday, but here I cut the committee some slack.


Odd, not just odd... Somebody got a phone call on the committee, and was told this is the way it's going to be...  Period.  This is blatant politics, and you guys/gals that call yourself professional journalist should treat it as such...  This is a SHAME and a power play by the Big 10 conference...   One of the WORST conferences in college football.  and all you can do is write an article that condones what the committee did in order to put Ohio State into the mix.  PATHETIC!

Quackmeyer
Quackmeyer

Georgia State is not going to the Big 12, they want admission to the NFC South and they want it NOW!

DawgDadII
DawgDadII

Mark's commentary on the Big12 is just piling more hypocrisy on top of hypocrisy. Who cares what scheming and politicking was going on? Until there is a system that truly respects results of play on the field in the end this final four is a beauty contest boiling down to backroom politics and selection. There is a reasonable possibility within a shadow of a doubt that TCU or Baylor might well be the best team in the Nation this year, we'll never know for sure, and a much more reasonable possibility one of both of these teams is better than at least one of the final four participants.


This goes beyond the notion "on any given day (Saturday, Sunday, whatever)". If you want a playoff system that respects results on the field the playoff needs to include all the conference champions, and you can make a rational case the conference championship games should be elimination games (I would favor that approach). 


The NCAA rule requiring conferences to have 12 teams to host a conference championship game is arbitrary and doesn't hold up in the face of these circumstances. That said, a rule is a rule and yes the Big-12 did itself a disservice this year by not resecting results of play on the field.

kenstallings
kenstallings

Ohio State played a thirteenth game and dominated a nationally ranked opponent is that thirteenth game.  That made the difference.  The Big-12 certainly made a crass decision but the offended party was Baylor, who should have been named the conference champion due to the tie-breaker.

TideDawg
TideDawg

@kenstallings  Ken, I don't think you can get that idea across to some of the bloggers. The conference championship games were deciding factors. It was the rule made clear to all. An 8 team playoff would have settled all arguments and complaints and would have leveled the field for the teams that don't have conference championships.

PigIron
PigIron

@TideDawg

Meh. CFB could institute a 64 game playoff and the #65 team would still whine about being unjustly left out.

TideDawg
TideDawg

@PigIron @TideDawg  Always room to complain. There are 5 power conferences for 5 spots and 3 open spots for independents/ or worthy 2nd place teams. You want all teams in it?? Tell them the playoff starts with their first game of 2015. Play your way in or be left out!! That's what you would have to do at the end of the year in the CFP.

forexbomb
forexbomb

@kenstallings Yeah, and I have some ocean front property up in the North Georgia mountains that I will sell you...  Politics and Money is the ONLY reason you can explain how you fall from 3 to 6... after beating your opponent by fifty points...  I mean really..

PigIron
PigIron

@forexbomb

It wasn't really about TCU falling so much as it was OSU rising. The committee had implied all along that Baylor would be ranked above TCU if they defeated Kansas State. They did. Meanwhile, OSU had been making a push to rise in the polls over the past few weeks. They did. I don't know why UGA fans feel compelled to whine for the underdogs, since UGA was never in the running for the CFP to begin with.

forexbomb
forexbomb

@PigIron @forexbomb OSU played in a WEAK football conference.  OSU got routed by one of the WORST ACC teams...  There is NO rational reason for OSU to be playing for the MNC..  It is POLITICAL and all about MONEY.  Period.  

topcat27
topcat27

The Big 12 got robbed. It's a better conference than the Big 10, and the ACC is worse than the Big 10. Florida State will get exposed when it plays Oregon. If it really was among the top four teams, it shouldn't have to struggle to beat the likes of BC, Virginia, and Miami.

TideDawg
TideDawg

@topcat27  The Big 12 didn't get robbed. They were victimized by the rules. There were 3 one loss teams for one spot in the final 4. I'm not happy that OSU got that spot, but the rule says "No championship game" is a deciding factor. I think Baylor and TCU are better than OSU. The TV market also played a big part. All teams "in" played 13 games. Baylor and TCU only 12.


No one wants to remember that OSU was the underdog in that game so that make their win an upset. If the odds makers thought Wisconsin was a better team why didn't the CFP committee think that the two Big 12 winners were better?

RuePaulJohnson
RuePaulJohnson

@TideDawg @topcat27

That's BS!

If no Championship Game was a deciding factor, then WHY not tell the Big-12 Members that you guys are eliminated before the season starts.

The reason is that if OU or Texas were 11-1, then Ohio St. would have been SoL.

This decision was based on name recognition ONLY!

TideDawg
TideDawg

@RuePaulJohnson @TideDawg @topcat27  Can't argue with the name recognition theory. ESPN had been campaigning for OSU since their 6th game.


Why so enamored with OSU? Because their conference has been rendered virtually irrelevant this year and they can't stand it.

forexbomb
forexbomb

@topcat27 The ACC just might be one of the better football conferences this year..  I have NO idea how you come up with we are worse than the Big 10... But hey, I will respectively laugh at the suggestion that the ACC is weaker than the Big 10.. Maybe in Basketball, but football... 

39Concepts
39Concepts

the big 12 only has 10 teams---they need 12 for a title game.  they don't want to invite a couple of low rent schools who will suck away revenues.  very simple.

Wilbo
Wilbo

Why are you writing about this, Brat Lee?


Are we all just going to pretend the Falcons aren't playing the Packers MNF?


I'm guessing the Pack may wanna make this a statement game. Can the Falcons keep it w/in 31? This is probably going to be an excellent opportunity to see the difference between a real top tier NFL QB and a Matty Ice, whatever that is. 2 INT's, maybe a fumble, a couple of short armed deep balls, more or less the usual for #2 in a pressure game.

TideDawg
TideDawg

One more thing and I'll get off the soap box. The big "scream" now is that teams schedule too many cupcake teams. True! But how are they going to fill all of the bowl matchups when half of the teams in bowl games now can't win 6 games without the cupcakes to become eligible? Be careful what you wish for! A full schedule of quality opponents would probably cut bowl eligible teams in half and there would be an exodus of bowls that can't get two teams that are eligible. Selah!

sliderule
sliderule

@TideDawg Sorry my friend, for every winner there is a loser.  The number of bowl eligible teams would remain about the same.

jdcigar
jdcigar

The Big 12 needs a conference champion decided by a championship game.  I think it will continue to be difficult for them to get in with the current system, unless their champ is a traditional power, i.e Texas or Oklahoma..


I think the committee got it right in the end but there will obviously always be one big 5 conference left out until they expand to 8 teams which I think is the perfect number.

TideDawg
TideDawg

When the president of the CFP Committee was interviewed, he stammered and stuttered his way through the interview saying nothing important but leaving room for doubt.


One of his most ridiculous statements was that the committee relied heavily on the judgement of the coaches on the committee. To me, that says that the other members weren't qualified to make a decision on the top teams. So my question is......  Why weren't all of the members coaches or previous coaches? Because it was a political decision to put non football people on the committee.....to be politically correct. They wanted OSU in at all costs and, in my opinion, destroyed what little creditability they had by their decision to drop TCU from 3rd to 6th after voting them 3rd the week before. According to the odds makers, OSU was the underdog and pulled off an upset.

ShovelPlease
ShovelPlease

Anyone think that had it been Texas instead of Texas Christian that the team would've dropped 3 spots after winning by 50+ points?  The "independent" committee chose the big bucks, big name, tv ratings, and marketability of Ohio State over the 2 lesser known, smaller (and better) Big 12 schools. 

It makes one wonder if the system is somehow fixed.  Oh well, at least the student-athletes aren't being exploited.

TideDawg
TideDawg

@ShovelPlease  100% Correct! The system may not be fixed, but it is prejudiced.


The CFP committee should go to 8 games. There shouldn't be too big of an argument over who is #8 vs. #9. Can you imagine the screaming if there was another 11-1 team in the SEC or ACC that didn't get in?? You had to realize that if there was any way the committee could justify Ohio State getting in, they would do it.


Did the OSU victory expose how good they are or how bad Wisconsin was. Both were overrated. If OSU had won by 1 point the outcome would have been the same....they would be in!!

JackClemens
JackClemens

Satan's two princes square off in a semi-final game. Awesome.

TheVoice
TheVoice

If Texas was one of the Big 12 Co Champions, they would no doubt be in the playoffs.  The "new" BCS +2 continues to simply be about money.  OSU pulls much more media and press throughout the US because of their school size.  


Why did we all assume Oregon would be in?  The win over a less than advertised MSU team?  A win against a down Stanford team?  A win in the championship against a team they lost to during the regular season?    We needed someone from the West coast just like we need OSU to cover the midwest.  


4 teams was never enough to really cover quality teams on any given season for a true playoff.


How is this an improvement?  

FarTrain
FarTrain

@TheVoice Gonna have to be 8 teams to make it legitimate in the future.  That means the "final 4" will be a true final four.

PigIron
PigIron

@TheVoice

How many teams would have to be included in a hypothetical playoff in order for your favorite team to get in?

8?

16?

32?

64?

TheVoice
TheVoice

@PigIron @TheVoice It would actually be TCU so 6 I guess.  We lost to Baylor so they are the champs in my opinion.  In a field of 8, we should be invited this year.  


Check back with the BCS week 15 polls over the past few years.  8 teams gets you the legit contenders each and every year.  It would this year as well.


With basketball, the field clearly has the top teams capable of winning the entire tournament.  


My point isn't to belly ache over TCU but make the point that the focus on the final results was more match up and money related than anything.  

PigIron
PigIron

@TheVoice

TCU didn't drop so much as OSU rose up in the rankings. I felt that the committee should have never ranked TCU above Baylor while waiting for Baylor to finish their season in order to have an equivalent "resume" to TCU's. They implied all along that if Baylor defeated Kansas State, then they would be ranked above TCU based upon their head-to-head win. In the end, they were.

OSU defeated more teams during the regular season with winning records than did either TCU or Baylor. Their blowout of Wisconsin gave OSU the few points that they needed to move into the #4 slot. You are blinded by bias.

Jmonty
Jmonty

I think this is a prime reason why these power 5 conferences need a championship game.  Let's be honest..  OSU's dominance of Wisconsin is what got them the nod over Baylor...  The fact remains...  The Big 12 was claiming TCU as co-champions while TCU was in the 4 team playoff.  There's too much money left on the table for them not to.  FSU won a hard fought game.  and sorry....  GT is much better than people give credit to.  That "high school" offense seems to rack up about 400 yards on the ground... 


In my opinion.... Thy set this 4 team playoff up for failure...  They should have done an 8 team playoff with the champions of each conference as automatic bids..  3 at large bids will cover teams that do well... 


Let's venture down this...


1.  Bama

2.  Oregon

3.  FSU

4.  Ohio State

5.  Baylor

6.  TCU

7.  Miss State

8.  Michigan State


Of course... 7 and 8 could be debatable.  But... Main thing... it easily captures the top 6 teams...  I think that after a few failed attempts of the 4 team system... They will change it

PigIron
PigIron

@Jmonty

Yes, because a #9 whine is so much more palatable than is a #5 whine.

Jmonty
Jmonty

@PigIron @Jmonty Yeah...  But having the winners of the Power 5 conferences will end the debate of which conference gets left out.  I'm willing to bet... If Mizzou had beaten Bama... All holy heck would of broke loose.  The SEC would had been left out and they would of started a complete media storm.  I foresee this 4 team selection ending once they go through whatever contracts are set with the major bowls now.  


8 team captures the conference winners.  The Big 12 will need to man up and play a championship game...  There would be lots of good choices for the remaining 3.  


I wouldn't go more than 8... Mainly because these young men are in school.  and MOST are actually in school for a degree.  


And yes... I agree PigIron... Let the NCAA Basketball selections... There are teams left out and whining.  But... Putting the best system in play is the best option.  Right now... I don't think the selection process is that good.  Again... If Bama or FSU lost.... the debate would be on.  Mainly Bama.  Because GT wasn't getting into the playoffs, even if they did win.  


Go Jackets.... and Go Dawgs!  Yes.... I will be rooting for you guys..  :) 

PigIron
PigIron

@Jmonty

Yes. The SEC would have been left out of the CFP had Mizzou beaten Alabama. There will be seasons in which one or more of the P5 conferences won't have a team that qualifies. Had TCU or Baylor gone undefeated, then they'd have been "in". As it turned out, neither of those 2 teams belonged in the CFP. Losing sucks. It always has. Losers will never learn to like losing.

One solution is certainly to guarantee a trophy for every team -- win or lose.

DawghaveMange
DawghaveMange

Lets be honest a moment, Wisconsin got beat by LSU in the season opener. LSU finished what 8-4.  All losses from within the SEC West. Wisconsin is not a team to hang your hat on for beating.  FSU is not the power they were in 2013 and their play ALL year only demonstrates that point and how weak the ACC as a whole conference has become. The Big 12 tried to beat the system and with there commissioner not willing to back the Head to Head Tie Breaker did in their league to get into the Playoffs.


If the coaches around the league can publish their final coaches poll vote http://www.usatoday.com/sports/ncaaf/ballots/coaches/2014/


then the College Selection Committee should release their votes as well.

Wrecker
Wrecker

@DawghaveMange The ACC is better this year as a whole than the Big 12 and the B1G, as well as the SEC Least.

joe jr 3
joe jr 3

College football is rigged.  As we can see it still caters to the big boys. How can you rank a team third but drop them down to number six ( after they stomp there opponent). If you didn't believe that TCU was worthy of their ranking, why rank them? Nothing has change folks! Its sad because those played their hearts believing  if they won they would be in the playoffs.

RafeHollister
RafeHollister

Ohio State is almost as loved by the media as is Notre Dame, they have to lose two or maybe three to be out of consideration. They lost to VA Tech for crying out loud.


None of the B1G played a tough schedule, and that was proven out by Wisc, which was ranked high prior to Sat, for no apparent reason.  So, one over rated team destroyed another, that was more over rated.  TCU was screwed by the committee, finishing four the preceding week and then destroying Iowa St got them demoted.  Baylor was also screwed.


This four team fiasco is better than what we had, but anyone with half a brain knows we need an eight team playoff, and I do not understand what the problem with that is.  Surely, we have enough bowl games to use to schedule 8 teams, just raise the bowl eligibility to winning seven games.  Teams that don't win seven have no business in post season anyway.  Make having a "winning" season mean something.  With 8 you include TCU and Baylor and have room for two of the biggest whiners among the pretenders.

Caius
Caius

News reports saying that Big 12 trying to "poach" Memphis and Cincinnati from the AAC.  Not a bad idea.

Wonder if they will make BYU and Houston an offer they can't refuse?

BSNBC
BSNBC

Ohio State is a joke!

C-Kirk
C-Kirk

@BSNBC

I agree but the Bowl selection Committee or whoever is in charge is sending a message to the Big - 12 and saying for them to get off their high horse and play ball with the rest of the nation.

RuePaulJohnson
RuePaulJohnson

@C-Kirk @BSNBC

You can't just force weak teams into your conf. just to have a Conf.-CG, the teams that qualify for the Big-12 need to have FB programs that are capable of competing AND Athl. Dept. Budgets that can financially support the correct number of non-revenue Sports outside of CFB and MBB.

This issue is more more complex than you make it out to be.

KeepinItSimple
KeepinItSimple

Either TCU or Baylor would have been better.  The Big Ten had a single, as in one, quality OOC win this year, and that was Indiana beating Missouri.  That's it.  There top four teams got beaten by VaTech, Oregon, LSU, and TCU by a combined 60 points!  Add in Maryland losing to WVa and Iowa losing to Iowa State and you have 6 of the top 7 Big Ten teams losing their only OOC games against power five conferences.


I have no love for the Big 12 because of Texas, but one could hate the SEC because of what Alabama has done to UAB in the exact same fashion.  Who cares if they didn't have a conference championship game, they BOTH deserve to be in there more than OSU.  


People talk about SEC bias, but there is no bias in any sport like there is for the Big Ten.  They were GIVEN national championships throughout the 80's and 90's and once the true BCS started they got a few early gimmee's and once they started having to play teams outside of the Pac-10 they started getting annihilated.  Two winning bowl seasons in the last 14 years!  TWO.  That is what the Big Ten has done.  If you just take post New Year's bowls their record is far below .500 in the last decade.  


Big Ten = Overrated every single year.  

C-Kirk
C-Kirk

@KeepinItSimple

Too many Sports Networks and Power players  from the Northeast . The Big -12 is all they have. That is one of the main reasons that the SEC have treated to leave the NCAA and form their own Organization . The Bowl tie in's are  terrible for College Football  but the Playoff Committee being able to match 6 Bowls in all, will negate a lot of the past terrible Bowl match up's . This years match up's are the best it has been in 20 years.

PaulinNH
PaulinNH

@KeepinItSimple 

"They were GIVEN national championships throughout the 80's and 90's"

What the heck are you talking about?  The Big 10 won exactly one MNC in the 80's and 90's - Michigan in 1997

PigIron
PigIron

@PaulinNH

Must you ALWAYS throw out those silly, silly facts?

You take all of the fun out of self absorbed whining! ;-)