Basketball

Why the Big 12 Got it Wrong by Not Instituting a Conference Title Game

Late this past week the Big 12 made a major decision that they hope will clear up any future discretions when it comes to a unanimous conference champion. Unfortunately, it wasn’t the choice most of the fans wanted. After meeting in Phoenix for its annual spring meetings, the Athletic Directors decided not to be in favor of a conference title game moving forward. This was something supporters of the Big 12 cried out for after TCU and Baylor were snubbed from the inaugural College Football Playoff.

The Big 12 is the only power five conference to not hold a title game which determines an absolute winner. Since the Big 12 has less than 12 teams encompassed within the conference, they currently are not eligible to do so. However, the conference has co-sponsored a deregulation proposal along with the Atlantic Coast Conference. In essence, it would allow the five power conferences to regulate their own conference championships and allow the Big 12 the opportunity to have an end of the year championship game in place.

After much hope and talk of finally having “One True Champion”, the Big 12 left the waters just as murky as at the end of the regular season. They have decided to bring a little bit more “clarity” with a tie-breaking formula that would even make Albert Einstein proud. So here’s the rule changes that are supposedly going to ease all of the Big 12‘s future dilemmas: If two teams tie at the end of the season then the winner of the head-to-head meeting would be the outright champion. This would have given Baylor the crown, even though most felt TCU was the better overall team. Simple, right? Not if parody enters the equation. If three teams tie, which happened last in 2008, their records against the next highest team in the standings would be compared. If that doesn’t break the tie, scoring differential between the tied teams would decide it. If none of those steps solve the problem, we flip a coin just like in the movie Friday Night Lights. I’m kidding, but that idea is not so farfetched from the actual last tie-breaker. The champion would be determined in a draw at the conference office. There you go folks. This is the new plan that is supposed to fix the conference’s end of the year problems and bring a better perception to the Big 12 come committee playoff selection time.

I don’t see any advantages to this new system, especially when it lacks a conference title game. It is reported that the NCAA is willing to waive this restriction by deregulating conference championships in football. Who wouldn’t have wanted to watch Baylor and TCU duke it out one more time on a neutral field to determine the sole winner? It would have brought more eyes and attention to a conference that has taken a back seat in recent years to other power five conferences. Not only would that have led to much more money for the Big 12, it would have made a stronger case and built a better resume for at least one team from the conference to make one of those coveted four playoff spots.

Teams that outright win their conferences and play among the same criteria as the rest of power 5 conferences will continue to have a better opportunity to make the College Football Playoff. Even though the Big 12 will have one “winner”, there will still be discrepancies that will continue to hold back the conference come selection time. As fans, we can only hope the Athletic Directors and coaches go back to the drawing board come next spring.
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