Bowlsby sees tiebreaker to determine champ in Big 12’s future


The consensus line of thinking went that, because the Big 12 doesn’t hold a conference championship game, it very likely cost the league a spot in the inaugural College Football Playoff. A subset of that line of thinking was that the conference did even more damage to its chances by not declaring, ahem, “One True Champion.”

Moving forward, it appears the conference is set to ensure the latter never happens again.

While nothing is official as of yet, commissioner Bob Bowlsby appears fairly confident that his bosses will adopt a tie-breaker procedure that would allow the league to present to the CFP committee, ahem, “One True Champion.” Athletic directors from the conference will meet in Kansas City this Thursday, and Bowlsby believes that what is likely a vast majority of conference members are in favor of declaring one champ when it comes to football.

“We probably don’t want to be different in more than one way than the other conferences.” Bowlsby told Chuck Carlton of the Dallas Morning News. “We need to have some other way to determine a champion.”

As every member of the 10-school Big 12 plays each other in conference play, the tiebreaker would be very straightforward: if two teams are tied for the top spot at the end of the season, the team that won the head-to-head matchup would officially be declared as the conference’s One True Champion. The procedure utilized in the event of a three-way tie wasn’t detailed — here’s what it is currently — although overall record/CFP rankings as well as head-to-head matchups would have to be a part of the equation if the conference’s eyes are on a potential playoff spot.

Last year, Baylor and TCU both finished at 8-1 in conference play and 11-1 overall. Based on Baylor’s 61-58 win over TCU, and if the proposed two-team tiebreaker would’ve been in play, the Bears would’ve been presented to the committee as the conference’s champion.

Whether that would’ve helped BU take the spot awarded to eventual champion Ohio State is an unknown; what is known is that it would’ve given the conference a hell of a lot stronger argument for playoff inclusion than the cop-out that was the naming of co-champions.  Well, that and beefing up the pastry-like non-conference portion of the Bears’ schedule.

Minnesota gives Fleck 1-year extension, plus raise

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MINNEAPOLIS — Minnesota football coach P.J. Fleck had his contract extended Wednesday by an additional year with a $1 million raise in annual salary, after the latest round of big spending by Big Ten rivals.

The new seven-year deal will run through the 2029 season, the university announced without releasing terms. Fleck will now make $6 million per year, a person with knowledge of the contract confirmed. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the deal had not yet been finalized.

Last week, Nebraska hired Matt Rhule and Wisconsin hired Luke Fickell to put them in the top tier of head coach compensation in the conference. In terms of average annual value, the 42-year-old Fleck is eighth in the Big Ten behind Michigan State’s Mel Tucker, Ohio State’s Ryan Day, Rhule, Fickell, Penn State’s James Franklin, Michigan’s Jim Harbaugh and Iowa’s Kirk Ferentz. All seven of those coaches make $7 million or more per season.

The Gophers (8-4) play Syracuse in the Pinstripe Bowl on Dec. 29. They’re 3-0 in bowl games under Fleck, who was hired away from Western Michigan in 2017.

Minnesota tied for second place in the Big Ten West Division this year, behind Purdue. Fleck is 43-27 overall with the Gophers, including 26-26 in conference play. They’re 0-6 against Iowa and 3-3 against Wisconsin, their primary rivals.

Fleck’s winning percentage is third-best in program history among coaches with 45 games or more, behind Henry Williams (1900-21) and Bernie Bierman (1932-41).

“What P.J. and his staff have done in a short amount of time is remarkable,” athletic director Mark Coyle said in a statement distributed by the university. “He has recruited and developed some of the best student-athletes to ever play at Minnesota and his team continues to excel academically, athletically and socially.”

This is the fifth time in six years on the job that Fleck’s deal has been adjusted to keep up with the competition, as power conference coach contracts these days rarely have less than five years on them at any time. Minnesota extended his deal a year ago, too.

In that iteration of his contract, the termination fees Fleck would owe Minnesota if he were to hop to another program were bumped way up. Those numbers landed at $7 million in 2023, $5 million in 2024, $4 million in 2025 and $3 million in 2026. Details about those figures in the new deal were not immediately available.

Virginia players granted extra year of eligibility

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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — The NCAA has granted an extra year of eligibility to Virginia players whose eligibility has expired in the aftermath of the slaying of three members of the team, the school confirmed.

Lavel Davis Jr., D’Sean Perry and Devin Chandler were killed last month as they returned to campus from a field trip to see a play in Washington, D.C. A former player at the school, Christopher Darnell Jones Jr., is facing three counts of second-degree murder and other charges in the shooting. A fourth player, Mike Hollins, and student Marlee Morgan were injured in the shooting.

Virginia canceled its final two games of the season after the shooting, and the team and university community memorialized the victims in a nearly two-hour service on campus. Team members also traveled to each of the three funerals held for their teammates.