On Tuesday the Big 12 coaches held a teleconference. Of course, the most interesting question continues to be: should the Big 12 hold a conference championship game?
Texas Tech’s Kliff Kingsbury said: “It’s going to be a necessity for our league to get another quality game for whoever is at the top of the league to keep up with those other ‘power five’ conferences.”
I read this as a lukewarm endorsement of a conference championship game. Otherwise, I’m not sure how else a team is supposed to get “another quality game” on their schedule late in the season.
Oklahoma State’s Mike Gundy, who is notorious for wanting to play easy non-conference schedules, stayed true to form, “We have to be very cautious. Having a team that could run through this undefeated, and then you play against an opponent that very well could have two losses, and that team beats the team that is undefeated, and then you knock that team out.”
That scenario is always possible, but it’s also possible for the other Power-5 conferences. Sure, the Big 12 likes to tout themselves as the only conference to hold a true round robin schedule (every team plays every team in the regular season). But, there could be plenty of times that Alabama or LSU play Georgia or Florida in the regular season, and the two could once again meet up in the SEC title game. It’s a total cop out from Gundy.
TCU’s Gary Patterson is a smart man, but he is playing dumb here: “I still don’t understand why it’s needed if you have a committee that’s picking your four best teams. Whatever we can do to help our conference, then we need to do it.”
Come on, Gary. You know better than that. In a perfect world, he’s right. How does TCU go from being the #3 team in the country, in the eyes of the committee, down to the #6 team in the country a week later. Especially considering all they did in between was beat Iowa State 55-3.
But, Gary knows better than that. This is all just entertainment that’s made for TV. The committee needs to make sure the conference championship games matter. Why? Because there are millions of dollars invested by TV Networks into those title games. Therefore, the committee had to show that those games are instrumental in deciding the Final Four. Fair? Probably not. But, it’s reality.
Meantime, Baylor’s Art Briles was strong in his stance, “I said all along if you go undefeated in our league you’ll be in the playoffs. Whether it would have made a difference if we played TCU again (in a championship game) I don’t know. Who knows?”
The problem that Briles runs into is that in four years of the round robin schedule, no Big 12 team has ever finished undefeated. So, in theory, he’s right. But, if you’re holding out hope for a team to be undefeated in order to make the Final 4, that’s a pretty big risk to take. I’d rather take the risk of holding a conference title game.
The three wise men on the teleconference were Oklahoma’s Bob Stoops, Kansas State’s Bill Snyder, and West Virginia’s Dana Holgorsen. Stoops said, “I’d be in favor of having a championship game because the selection committee is putting weight on wins and number of games. If having an extra win would help, I’d be in favor of playing it.”
While Snyder added, “I’ve always favored the conference championship game and still do. We suffered from it and benefited from it, but overall it’s worked in the best interest of our program.” It’s important to note this quote comes from a coach who is 1-2 in Big 12 title games.
Holgorsen was all about uniformity, “I’ve always been a proponent of everybody doing the same thing. Having a 13th game to be on the same level as everybody else is important. I think it hurt the Big 12 last year.”
Yes, there is the fact that the Big 12 technically cannot host a conference championship game just yet. It has been reported that the NCAA could pass a rule as early as 2016 to allow a conference with less than 12 teams to host a conference title game.
The Big 12 is ready made for a conference championship. The game can get back to being played in, arguably, the most extravagant football stadium in the country, AT&T Stadium, a.k.a. Jerry’s World. Off the bat, that’s a mega sales pitch to a TV Network.
In the end, the College Football Playoff Committee is not going to hold the Big 12’s hand and tell them what to do. It’s all pretty straight forward. As Dana Holgorsen pointed out, they can join everybody else and embrace the risk/reward of a title game. The other option is to continue to hope one team each year goes undefeated, or pray that one of the other Power-5 big boys lose in their conference championship game and back their way in. Call me old school, but I’d rather see the Big 12 earn their way into the Final Four. Plus, as a fan, I sure wouldn’t mind seeing the top two teams in the conference play on the first Saturday in December. If nothing else, it beats having to watch TCU-Iowa State.
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