In this week's Big 12 roundtable, we break down Wednesday's NCAA conference championship deregulation vote, which will allow the Big 12 to implement a conference championship game with 10 teams.
Should the Big 12 implement a title game with 10 teams?
Brandon Chatmon: Unless all that matters is money, I can’t think of a good reason why the Big 12 should add a title game. It would bring more perils than joy. The Big 12’s title game pitfalls have been well-documented, with a conference champion falling out of the national title hunt on more than one occasion when the Big 12 had a title game. I like the fact that the conference pursued the option to have a title game -- because options are rarely a bad thing -- but that doesn’t mean it needs to have one. There’s been talk about a 13th data point and the value of a title game, but for the second straight year a Big 12 champion defeated a top 15 team in what essentially amounted to a title game in its final game of the season. It didn’t seem to matter to the committee either year. Why should we think it would start to matter? Just because championship bunting and a title game logo is surrounding the action on the field?
Max Olson: History tells us the answer is, some years yes, some years no. But history doesn’t factor into the College Football Playoff, an unpredictable system governed by subjective evaluation that has never adequately appreciated the difficulty of the Big 12’s round-robin schedule. No team has ever gone 9-0 in Big 12 play since the league went to a round-robin format. So I don’t love the idea of creating another big hurdle (against a team they’ve likely already defeated) for the conference’s best team to make the Playoff. I get the money argument, but keep in mind the Big 12 gets $6 million for each of its teams that makes the Playoff. A title game will jeopardize that opportunity every single year. I’d love to watch a title game, but I’m not convinced it solves any problems.
Jake Trotter: Yes. Ideally you'd like to have a championship game with two divisional winners out of a 12-team format. But if the Big 12 is going to refrain from expanding, this is the next best option, I suppose. It does create the possibility for some unnatural matchups. For example, this year Oklahoma and Oklahoma State would've played twice in two weeks. There's also the possibility of a Playoff contender losing in a championship game, costing the conference a Playoff spot. But I also think a championship game brings the Big 12 closer to controlling its own destiny. In the eyes of the selection committee, the 13th game matters. Playing on the final weekend seems to matter, too. And until the Big 12 has those things, it will be operating at a disadvantage.
Oklahoma president David Boren issued a statement saying the Big 12 would remain "disadvantaged" unless it expanded by two teams. Do you agree with him?
Chatmon: What he’s saying makes sense, and his points should make everyone re-evaluate their stance on the Big 12’s current state of affairs. So let’s address the specifics. The Big 12 needs 12 ... OK, who? The Big 12 needs a title game ... OK, why? The Big 12 needs a network ... I agree, but that has nothing to do with making the College Football Playoff, it’s just a nice handful of dirt to muddy up the water. What would help? Winning those head-to-head games against Power 5 foes. Until Big 12 schools consistently do that, they can’t blame anyone but themselves. All of this conversation, insecurity and uncertainty would be erased if the Big 12 took care of business in those head-to-head matches, in nonconference play and during the bowl season.
Olson: I’m sure there are a lot of important people in the Big 12 who read Boren’s comments on Wednesday and nodded their heads. That doesn’t mean he will be able to build consensus among the league’s decision-makers. There’s just no easy, obvious path to making those things happen. I can’t say I’m surprised that, years later, guys like Boren are frustrated by the deals struck in haste during conference realignment. I’m glad he’s bringing these problems up, because they still loom large in this league. But I wonder if taking that shot was a productive move.
Trotter: I think more than anything, Boren is trying to send a message to Texas. That's what Oklahoma's 2011 flirtation with the Pac-12 was mostly about. Boren is still fighting that battle. But Boren is also right. The Big 12 needs to change the national conversation regarding the conference. And really, the only way to do that, below winning consecutive national titles, is to expand. Adding two members would put the Big 12 on the same plane with other conferences format-wise, and it would help alter the outside perception.