Bob Bowlsby, thinking inside the box

Nothing about this surprises me.

Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby entered the College Football Playoff meetings this week seeking definitive answers on how much a 13th game helped Ohio State get picked over Baylor and TCU. Bowlsby ended Wednesday with as close of a statement as he has ever made that the Big 12 will add a conference championship game.

Bowlsby wouldn’t definitively say the Big 12 will add a championship game in 2016 if a new NCAA rule allows 10-team members to do so. But given the knowledge he has now, Bowlsby said, “I surmise we would probably move in that direction.”

Bowlsby said he was told this week by CFP selection committee chairman Jeff Long that 13 data points are better than 12. Ohio State blew out Wisconsin in the Big Ten Championship Game on the final week last season while Baylor and TCU won their final regular-season games in round-robin play.

“What we heard is if we don’t go to a championship game we’re at a disadvantage,” Bowlsby said. “All things being equal, 13 games are better than 12 games. That’s what we heard. So that gives us clear enough direction that we’re coming in at least at a modest disadvantage. We need to do whatever we can to mitigate that.”

This is a dumbass move on a number of levels.  First, and most significantly, the Big 12 plays a round robin conference schedule.  It doesn’t need a playoff to determine a true champion; the regular season takes care of that.

Second, it’s like these guys have the shortest memories on the planet.

The Big 12 played a conference championship game from 1996 to 2010 and was hurt in the BCS era more than any conference by having a national contender lose that game.

And if there’s any cosmic justice, or if the football gods have a perverse sense of humor, that’s exactly what’ll happen in the first Big 12 championship game.

Along those lines, it ought to be a concern when Jim Delany gives you advice that makes sense.

However, Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany cautioned that conference championship games “cut both ways” – sometimes helping a league’s best team and sometimes costing it with an upset loss.

One of the lessons learned from the Bowl Championship Series Era was that the constant alterations to that ill-fated system eroded public confidence.

“We probably made some mistakes by tweaking, to be honest,” Delany said.

Of course, it’s only fair to note that Bowlsby is probably working from a lower bar in terms of public confidence than the BCS was at the start.

Now, this isn’t totally the fault of the Big 12.  Jeff Long’s hands have some dirt on them, too.

Bowlsby said he was convinced after the commissioners met with selection committee chairman Jeff Long, the Arkansas athletic director, that the Big 12’s champion might need to play a 13th game — a conference championship game — in order to be seen on equal footing with other playoff contenders. (Reached by phone later, Long declined an interview request.)

Again, never mind that the Big 12’s selection of its conference champion doesn’t require a championship game.  It’s all about the data points for the selection committee.

But Bowlsby still is playing the hand he’s dealt here.  His coaches like soft non-conference schedules.  His presidents like cutting the revenue pie into just ten pieces.  And a championship game will enlarge that pie a little more.  It’s a win-win.  Until the league’s best team loses.


UPDATE:  Bill Connelly elaborates on the history repeating aspect of what’s coming.



Filed under BCS/Playoffs, Big 12 Football

6 responses to “Bob Bowlsby, thinking inside the box

  1. This is rich. I would bet that some of the discussion in the conference room in December about whether to put the Big 12 champ into the playoff was, “Which team is the Big 12 commission telling us to consider as its champ? We aren’t inviting 2 Big 12 teams. Bowlsby is telling us neither is better than the other. How can we justify rejecting a team the Big Ten tells us is its best team in order to take a team Bowlsby won’t stand behind as his best team?”

    Rather than putting his money where his “One true champion” mouth is he instead takes as gospel what a guy paid big bucks by an SEC team tells him would make it more likely a Big 12 team gets picked over an SEC team.

    I wish I was smart enough to have the job Bowlsby has!


  2. Macallanlover

    In a system where you are forced to exclude of the conference champions, the title game should be a factor. I think the Big 12/10 as a conference is better than the Big? every year, but it doesn’t mean the champion is always better. Not naming a champ hurt the Big 12/10 but the title game in Indy, along with the historical bias for that conference, was the difference. 12-1 is better than 11-1 when you take out subjectivity/bias. TCU, Baylor, and ohio should have been in the first playoff but couldn’t because the leadership cut the playoff too short, probably to leverage more money when they get it fixed.


  3. Ben

    This is what happens when you let Texas tell you what to wear and what to have for dinner. The Big 12 deserves this.


  4. Beakerdawg

    The big 12 is getting exactly what they asked for – a conference run by Texas. Last year, if TCU and Texas were tied, Bob would have been screaming Texas is our CHAMP from the top of the Alamo with the Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders shakin’ it and fireworks blasting off in the background during primetime on the “Longhorn Network” sponsored by the Home Depot and Subway…



    1 loss Big 12 is in this next playoff…book it. This is really all this means.


  6. Go Dawgs!

    It’s a four team playoff. There are five “power” conferences. Most years, some deserving team is going to be left out. That’s the way it is.

    I don’t think a one-loss Baylor or TCU team that won a Big 12 title game would have gotten in ahead of unbeaten FSU, one-loss Alabama or one-loss Oregon. Might they have gotten in over one-loss Ohio State? Maaaaaybe, but don’t forget the way that Ohio State finished the season, with an absolute throttling of a good Wisconsin team in the Big 10 title game. Unless Baylor or TCU put up a similar result over a similarly respected team, I don’t think they would have gotten in ahead of the Buckeyes, either.