According to ESPN’s Brett McMurphy, Big 12 coaches wanted to split the conference into divisions and then have division winners play in the conference championship game.
Big 12’s decision not to have divisions is surprising. Coaches voted 7-3 in favor of splitting into divisions, sources told @ESPN
— Brett McMurphy (@McMurphyESPN) October 28, 2016
Instead, the conference has elected to have no divisions and play the 1st place team against the 2nd place team in the conference championship game, which starts up again in 2017.
Commissioner Bob Bowlsby said in a statement: “There are a number of advantages to matching our top two teams. Given our round-robin, nine-game scheduling model, it is expected the Big 12 champion will be uniquely positioned for College Football Playoff consideration.”
Bowlsby added, “I would argue there will be no path more difficult than our champion’s, where it will have played every team in the conference, faced at least one [Power 5] nonconference opponent, and then plays in our championship game. The guaranteed No. 1 vs. No. 2 matchup will be a great game for our fans, and it’s hard to imagine a stronger position for a conference champion.”
I agree with Bowlsby and believe the coaches wanted divisions since it would possibly set up an easier championship game opponent in that the first place team may not have had to play the 2nd place team. Put the top two teams in the game, who cares if it’s a rematch from the previous week, and let the best team win. It’s not ideal to potentially have two teams playing in back-to-back weeks, but it could very well set up some fascinating storylines that the other conferences won’t have.
Bowlsby said the Big 12 would continue to use the same tiebreakers to determine the title game participants, with head-to-head matchups being the lone deciding factor when two teams finish with the same record.
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