One True Champion – the Big 12 motto became a mockery last season when the conference crowned both Baylor and TCU co-champions. Fortunately for our sanity, things could change as early as 2016. The Big 12 (and ACC) is working towards deregulating the NCAA rules preventing the conference from hosting a championship game.
A rule change would be a win for Big 12 fans everywhere that currently have to grin and bear the ridicule from across the country, but how do the coaches feel about it? ESPN’s Jake Trotter wondered that very thing, and spokes with all nine returning Big 12 coaches (sorry David Beaty) about the possibility of a Big 12 Championship game.
Not surprisingly, most coaches were for the change.
“I’ve always favored the conference championship game, and I still do.” Kansas State head coach Bill Snyder told Trotter. “We’ve been involved in two of those and we were fortunate to win a game against the University of Oklahoma. They were still able to go to the national championship game. We played in it one year and lost, and it knocked us out of the [national] championship game. It’s worked both ways and we suffered from it. But overall, collectively, it’s been in the best interest of our program.”
However not everyone is sold just yet, and interestingly enough, one of the coaches that would have theoretically benefitted from a conference championship game last season is on the fence about bringing the game back.
“I hadn’t even really thought about it. If you’re just asking me a question, I’m not sure.” Baylor head coach Art Briles said. “I’ve said it all along, if you can go undefeated in our league, you’ll be in the College Football Playoff. That’s the bottom line. Now whether that would have made a difference this year or not, if say us and TCU had played again at the end, I don’t know. That’s something we can all speculate always on but still not know.”
Briles has a point. There’s no guarantee a conference championship would have put the either TCU or Baylor into the College Football Playoff, and there’s a real chance a championship game could knock a Big 12 team out of playoff consideration. A concern Oklahoma State’s Mike Gundy spoke about directly.
“We have to be very cautious. Having a team that could run through this undefeated, and then you play against an opponent that very well could have two losses, and that team beats the team that is undefeated, and then you knock that team out. That could happen, and that’s why you have to be careful about bringing a conference championship back into the league.” Gundy said. “There’s enough respect for the Big 12 now that you’re going to get a team in in most cases.”
It basically boils down to why. If it’s to prevent another tie in the fairest way possible, then okay. However, if it’s solely for the sake of the College Football Playoff, then well… I think TCU head coach Gary Patterson put it best.
“I still don’t understand why it’s needed if you have a committee that’s picking your four best teams.” Patterson told Trotter.