The Big 12 Conference has started to take the form of a doomed marriage.
In 1996, the former Big Eight Conference walked down the aisle to marry the Southwestern Conference, giving us collegiate athletics bliss. For almost 15 years, they seemed to be happy until Colorado, Nebraska, Texas A&M and Missouri bolted and the conference almost dissolved in 2010 and 2011.
Despite the addition of the Longhorn Network, TCU and West Virginia, it is clear that the conference is unhappy. In some troubled marriages, couples seek counseling or take a vacation. An even more dramatic step in marriage-saving is bringing a baby into the world. The Big 12 just brought a baby into the world in the form of a Big 12 Title game in 2017.
While this new addition to the conference nets $27-$28 million in additional revenue for the conference, it’s still a terrible idea and just makes matters worse.
Why you ask?
Well the Big 12 has yet to solve its much bigger issue of deciding whether to expand or stay at 10 teams. So regardless, if the conference is at 10, 12 or even 14 teams, they will proceed with a conference title game. Under the current format with 10 teams, the conference will split into two five-team divisions while maintaining its current round-robin format.
Instead of trying to gain an easier path to the illustrious College Football Playoff, the Big 12 decided that it would like to make it even harder for Big 12 teams to compete. The Big 12 marriage-saving baby is now a full-blown problem child.
Here’s an example of what I mean:
Say TCU, K-State, Kansas, Texas Tech and Iowa State are in division one, while Baylor, Texas, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and West Virginia are in division two. Then say that the conference title game features “division one” winner TCU, who is undefeated and already beat “division two” winner Oklahoma during the season. Now you’re asking TCU to beat Oklahoma again, even though under the current nontitle game format, TCU would hold a tiebreaker and render a title game useless.
What makes this even more hilarious is that the Big 12 has already put in scheduling procedures that require every school to schedule at least one “Power 5” opponent per season. Also, the Big 12 has done some not-so-sneaky schedule manipulation so that the conference’s most important games are at the end of the season.
I know the Big 12 wants us to believe that the birth of this conference title game will bring unity to the conference, but we’re a long way from that. With the announcement that the Big 12 is long off from expansion and will no longer pursue a conference network, it’s becoming more clear that this conference needs a divorce – and soon.