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Beebe: Big 12 about to get much tougher

This spring, Iowa State coach Paul Rhoads expressed concern about the Big 12's addition of a ninth conference game, joining the Pac-12 as the only conference currently playing nine conference games.

"You don't want to put yourself at a disadvantage when it comes to qualifying for bowls compared to teams from other conferences," Rhoads said.

Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe spoke to ESPN.com recently, and his general message? Buckle up your chinstraps, everybody.

"I think he’s right," Beebe said of Rhoads' acknowledgment of the challenge. "It is going to be tough. What we have here is going to be a tremendous league of competition for our fans and media and fans throughout the country, but it’s going to be a real challenge for the coaches to get through this kind of gauntlet."

Rhoads' biggest concern, apparently, was the unbalance between the Big 12 and the rest of college football, but Beebe noted that the Big 12 won't be alone for long.

"The Big Ten is probably moving to a nine-game schedule some time soon," Beebe said. "The Pac-12 is keeping the nine-game schedule even with the two divisions. The Big East is looking at whether they bring in another institution and have a nine-game schedule, so we’re not going to be alone in that."

The Big Ten, though, likely won't move to a nine-game schedule until 2017 at the earliest, and you'd be hard-pressed to find a Big 12 fan who truly sees the Big East as a peer.

For teams in the middle of the Big 12, making bowl games is about to get more difficult, but for teams at the top, the tradeoff should be a welcome one.

Instead of playing a division champion, it will add a normal conference game.

"I think we have just as strong, if not stronger possibility of getting a team in the national championship and possibly two teams in the BCS as frequently," Beebe said.

If the Big 12 hadn't added a championship game, its perception might be significantly different. The SEC leads the nation with seven BCS National Championship game appearances, but the Big 12 has six.

"Our championship game has been an impediment to a team playing in the national championship game at least three times in the conference history," Beebe said. "If it weren’t for our championship game, we would have easily led the country in teams participating in the national championship."

Of course, the SEC is 7-0 in those games, vs. the Big 12, which is just 2-4. But the effect of the nine-game schedule looks clear. Those at the top will benefit, while it could be a road block to the postseason for teams in the middle of the Big 12 standings.

"We obviously have fewer teams so we’re not going to get as many teams into bowls as we would normally, but the top teams are going to be competing for national championships and BCS spots," Beebe said, "and I think we’re going to have a good number if we’ve got 60 or 70 percent of our teams in bowl games. That’s excellent for a 10-member conference."