Finally, the Big 12 will have one true champion! The Big 12’s athletic directors and coaches are meeting in Phoenix, Arizona for the conference’s spring meetings, and on Wednesday they approved tiebreak rules to abolish co-champions.
We also found out what took so long to develop the new rules. They’re complicated. Very, very complicated. Because it’s the Big 12, and of course.
Here’s the rules courtesy of Jon Solomon of CBS Sports:
BIG 12 CONFERENCE FOOTBALL TIEBREAKER
(To be used to determine the Conference champion and, if needed, the Conference’s Sugar Bowl representative in the event the champion is selected for a CFP semifinal)
10.24 Tiebreaker Procedure.
The following procedure will determine the Conference Champion. The tiebreaker will also be used to break other ties as necessary. For the avoidance of doubt, only Conference records will be used throughout the process:
a. If two teams are tied, the winner of the game between the two tied teams shall be the champion.
b. If three or more teams are tied, steps 1 through 4 will be followed until a determination is made. Once a team has been eliminated from a multi-team comparison, it is dropped from further comparisons. If only two teams remain tied after any step, the winner of the game between the two tied teams shall be the Champion.
1. The conference records of the three or more teams will be compared against each other.
2. The conference records of the three or more teams will be compared against the next highest placed team(s) in the conference (4, 5 and 6….).
A. When comparing against the next highest placed teams, a two-way tie among the next highest placed teams will be broken by head-to-head before the comparison begins.
B. If more than a two-way tie exists among the next highest placed teams, record against the collective tied teams as a group will be used.
3. Scoring differential among the tied teams. The team with the lowest difference between points scored and points allowed in games vs. the tied teams are eliminated from consideration.
4. Draw (In the event steps 1-3 cannot break a multi team tie the champion will be determined by draw at the Conference office).
It starts out simple enough. In the event of a two-way tie, the tie-break is determined by head-to-head matchup. Should there be a three-way tie though… let’s just hope there’s never a three-way tie. Seriously, we may never figure it out. Not only are the rules somewhat confusing, but they’re a little vague as well. Not such a good thing when trying to determine your champion. Texas Longhorns beat writer for the Houston Chronicle Mike Finger does a great job of breaking down the possible issues with the wording.
That’s not even where things get the most interesting. Should the three teams still be tied after all of that, the scoring differential of the games between the tied teams will be used. That solves one problem, but could cause another. Since teams will have no way of knowing who will be tied when all is said and done, if given the opportunity, coaches would be amiss if they didn’t try to run up the score. It’s an issue Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby acknowledges.
“There is, I think, probably a little bit of apprehension about scoring differential because theoretically it could contribute to running up the score,” Bowlsby said.
Now, I’m of the opinion that it’s up to the other team to stop you, but you probably don’t want everyone actively trying to run up the score either. It’s just not a good look to be up 30 points in the fourth quarter and going for it on fourth down. Not that any Big 12 coaches would do that…
Truth be told though, despite how complicated the tie-break is, it’s probably about as fair as you can make it. Plus how fun will it be if a three-way tie looks possible with just a few weeks left, and we’re all trying to figure out who’s going to be fourth, fifth, and sixth just to figure out who’s going to be first. Big 12 math everyone.
Oh, and if all the above fails, guess they’re picking straws in the Big 12 offices.
What do you think of the new tie-break rule? Like it, hate it, don’t care as long as there’s no more one true co-champion? Let us know in the comments!