A little bit to think about this weekend …
Hey, as we start our annual rubbing of the bridge of the nose as the College Football Playoff committee does its best to remain as confusing as possible, there may be an answer.
And the Big 12 Conference is just the kind of conference to do something about it. After all, this is the conference that has given us a title game and taken away a title game, too. It’s fair to say the Big 12 has become reactionary and tries to guess what the next move by the CFB Playoff committee might be.
So, here’s an idea: Stop playing every team in the conference. Stop the grandstanding about how the Big 12 has “One True Champion.” Who cares? Keep the title game, but forget about the round-robin. Instead of playing all the teams in the conference, drop one and add a non-conference opponent.
Yes, it would take some scheduling gymnastics to make happen, but Oklahoma gains nothing by playing Kansas and and Kansas State every year. There’s no reason Texas Tech needs to play Iowa State every season. And yes, Texas and Oklahoma should always play and Kansas and Kansas State should also play. Naturally there are rivalries that need to be maintained, but not every team needs to see every other team every year.
What the Big 12 needs is to assert itself. Play eight conference games and give its teams the flexibility to add another quality opponent. Will every team take advantage of it? Probably not, but that’s on them. For the teams who want to be part of the national title picture, it will be a real opportunity to bulk up the schedule. For a team like Oklahoma, it could be the difference in the committee’s eyes. While we don’t know exactly what criteria the CFB Playoff committee truly uses, it never hurts to add a Purdue, or an Ole Miss or Cal.
The Big 12 is considered the weakest of the Power 5 conferences, and if it’s not considered the weakest, it’s certainly facing a massive public relations battle on a yearly basis that has pegged it the conference of no defense and all offense. Even if the CFB Playoff committee doesn’t consider strength of schedule, you know the rest of the college football world talk revolves around the matchups that can be used to separate teams.
Oklahoma beating Ohio State helped the Sooners get to the playoff. Ohio State beating Oklahoma helped the Buckeyes get in the year before.
Certainly, Oklahoma has the bonus of the brand. Oklahoma will generally get the benefit of the doubt because of its history of success, but for a team like Oklahoma State or a team like West Virginia, another game – a game against a notable team – can only help. The upside is there. The downside, possibly losing to a North Carolina or Wake Forest or Arizona State, if you’re West Virginia, is totally worth it.
The SEC doesn’t play every other team. The ACC doesn’t either. It allows for more freedom for the teams and it also means less of a chance of cannibalizing itself. The last thing Oklahoma needs is a loss to Baylor. Texas doesn’t benefit by fooling around at Kansas every other year.
The Big 12 needs to give itself a chance. Forget the slogan. Go schedule better instead.