As Gary Patterson gets ready for the 2017 season at Big 12 Media Days, his mind still thinks back to 2014, and rightfully so. Despite the “One True Champion” moniker, TCU and Baylor were co-champions in the Big 12 conference that season. Both had one loss, but found themselves on the outside looking in on the College Football Playoff.
The Big 12 was told that because the conference did not have a 13th data point (a.k.a. conference championship game), the conference would always be fighting an uphill battle. So, the conference played along. But what do you know, the Big 12 added a conference championship game last fall and then weeks later Ohio State makes the College Football Playoff without reaching the Big Ten championship game.
“The whole thing was, find the four best teams, not by strength of schedule, not by who’s coaching them, not by anything else except what’s the film, what’s the film and here’s the four teams,” Patterson said on Monday in Frisco, Texas, at Big 12 Media Days.
Frankly, we knew this was going to be a flawed process simply because human beings are flawed, especially when some of them happen to be employed and connected to specific universities and conferences, while being on the College Football Playoff selection committee.
That being said, of course Patterson still has a legitimate gripe.
He then defended the Big 12 as a whole saying, “I’m sitting here listening to, well you know ‘the Big 12 isn’t very good because two of the last three years we haven’t had anybody in the Playoff’. Well we didn’t have anybody because somebody chose it that way, not because they weren’t’ worthy. There is a difference… I’ve talked to enough coaches of the teams that were in the Playoffs that didn’t want anything to do with Baylor or TCU [in 2014]. But they’re not going to say that out loud.”
I then jumped in and posed the question to Patterson something I’ve thought about for a long time, “Coach, in 2014, if Baylor and TCU had the names and brands of Texas and/or Oklahoma, would one of your teams have gotten in?”
Patterson responded, “Oh, I can’t fight that one either. All I can do is tell you this… give us the rules, we play by them. Then don’t change the rules. Last year we changed the rules. We took a team, when you told us you had to play in a 13th ballgame to have enough points, and then they took a team that didn’t have enough points and they said ‘game-by-game.'”
So I followed up with Gary Patterson, question, “is that what you get back to when you were mentioning money and brand earlier?” My implication was, once again, that Baylor and TCU got screwed because they were not blue bloods and powerhouse programs and the committee wanted monster ratings for its first ever playoff. Ohio State could provide that. TCU and Baylor could not.
Patterson quickly fired back to me, “It could. People can say it was all about t-shirts, if that’s what you want to say. But from where I sit, as a coach and what is better for college football, it’s not my place to say something like that. My place is to believe that people are going to do things for the right reasons. If I don’t believe that then I need to get out of the profession. Now it’s also my job to call ’em on it and ask, because if you don’t ask then it’s just as much your fault.”
Good for Gary Patterson for calling out the committee on their decision to put in Ohio State last season, despite not even reaching the Big Ten Title game (reached and won by Penn State). If the Big 12 doesn’t stand up for itself, no one will. And with Bob Stoops out of the picture in the conference, look to none other than coach Patterson to start filling that role and those shoes as outspoken elder statesmen in the conference.
Gary Patterson is as well respected as they come in the profession, so to see him taking this approach is a welcomed sight for many in the Big 12 conference.
Here is the audio of my exchange with Coach Patterson from Big 12 Media Days.
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