A universally shared opinion amongst most observers is that the Big 12 cost itself a seat at the inaugural College Football Playoff table because the conference lacked a championship game.
The league has already discussed adding a title game once. And, according to commissioner Bob Bowlsby, that discussion will continue.
In an interview with ESPN.com‘s Heather Dinich, Bowlsby confirmed that administrators in the conference will once again talk about adding such a contest. Bowlsby made it clear, though, that the onus for adding one will be squarely on the league’s athletic directors.
“We talked about it once, we’ll talk about it again,” Bowlsby said of the league title. “I was very proud of our athletic directors, to be honest about it, because they didn’t have a knee-jerk reaction. There wasn’t any, ‘We’ve got to find two new members so we can have a playoff.’ It’s easy to forget that if a couple of things go differently, we get two teams in, not none. We always knew somebody was going to be standing when the music stopped. Some of that is situational. I was proud of our ADs. We had a very businesslike session in New York and we talked a little bit about the tiebreaker, we talked about scheduling, we talked about nonconference schedules … and we’ll talk about it again.”
“The question is a fair question: Do you want to be different from everybody else in two significant ways?” he said. “I’m sure there’s going to be some disagreement in it. Our league, they love the co-champions because most of the time it was, our schools felt like they were chasing Texas and Oklahoma. If they had a chance to tie for the conference championship, they wanted to. Now it’s a little different situation. That’s going to be our ADs’ call. It’s not my call, it’s clearly theirs. We’ll talk about it and come to some closure.”
While the NCAA prohibits conferences from staging championship games if they don’t have at least 12 members and two divisions, the Big 12 could apply for a waiver that would almost certainly be granted. The conference could also expand by two to get to the 12-team minimum.
In early December, multiple reports indicated that there was little traction for expanding, no doubt due largely to the fact that the current members don’t want to split a financial pie 12 ways that’s currently being split 10 ways. Bowlsby did allow a couple of weeks later, though, that if expansion comes to the table, it would be eastward in nature. At least for the moment, that tack seems unlikely.
Another way the conference could prop up the profiles of its membership in the absence of a championship game is by beefing up its nonconference schedule. Bowlsby acknowledged that mandating at least one Power Five non-conference game, like the SEC did, is an option.
“The only way we would do that is if our ADs acted to do it,” he said. “It isn’t something I’m going to mandate, but it’s something we’ll talk about for sure, absolutely.”