1. During the Baylor victory against Kansas State, there was another game going on in the stands. A simple game that most of us played as children called Grapevine. You get a piece of information and you just start sharing it. The playground was McLane Stadium with the information being the scores of the Florida State and Ohio State Championship games. We all knew the Florida State and Georgia Tech ACC Title Game would be close, because it involved Florida State. It did not disappoint. With each Tech touchdown, murmurs started to flow and you could hear the rumblings. Still though, hopes were not high as this is the type of game the Seminoles had won all year, and of course they won again.
However, the other game did not go as scripted. Simply put, with every Ohio State touchdown and mistake by Wisconsin, the reality of the situation for the Bears (and the Big 12 in general) grew clearer and clearer. They would be left out of the playoffs over the Buckeyes. It was the easy and simple choice for a committee looking for a way out of the Baylor/TCU argument, and rightfully so. When a big-name candidate appeared, and put on a dominant performance at the best time, the choice was obvious. Sure, there was still hope, but realistically, it was over as soon as Ohio State went up 38-0 at halftime.
2. I still argue that the Bears and Horned Frogs pure resume is better than the Buckeyes. They have much better wins and they don’t have nearly the caliber off loss that Ohio State trots out there. The Big 12’s utter dominance in terms of strength according to every metric and head to head battles between the two only strengthens the case for a Big 12 Champion over a Big 10 Champion. However, there was no Big 12 Champion with the conference’s lack of an ironic “True Champ” to claim. There were four conference champions and two co-champions to choose from. They chose the four champs. The Big 12 tried to split the baby and share it, and the baby died.
What options does the Big 12 have to avoid this situation in the future? Is it even a situation that needs to be avoided? Well, there will be screams to expansion. Bring 2-more teams into the conference and play that conference game again! Get that 13th game back as a possibility for our champion! I think that is reactionary and not the point. The fact is, the committee didn’t have a champion to choose from. The Big 12 presented two teams as co-champs. Looking at the fall the Horned Frogs have, it is logical to say that the Bears received a bigger boost for a co-championship, but it wasn’t the full amount.
There are two ways to really improve the conference. First, actually declare a single champion as your representative to the CFP. You can still have co-champs, but treat it like you would treat the New Years game. Pick the head to head winner and they are your representative. It is clean, it is easy, and it is logical. Second, you have to convince all teams to beef up their strength of schedule, and that probably starts with the Baylor Bears. You do those two things and still get left out, then you can start looking at a conference title game with a 10-team league or adding two teams to get to 12.
3. So, now what? You will read a lot about the blunders and mistakes that the Big 12 made in the coming days and weeks. There are plenty of both to fill newspapers for weeks. However, what would everyone be saying if Ohio State and Florida State lost, and the Big 12 got two teams in? That is a BIG if at this point, but the fact is, Bob Bowlsby and the Big 12 went big or bust. They just happened to land on the bust side of the ledger this time.
The motives seemed simple, avoid naming one true champion hoping to get the breaks you needed to get BOTH TCU and Baylor into the playoff. As I have said and written many times, chaos has a pretty solid record in college football. This year though, chaos was quieted and the chalk held. There was an 81% chance of one of the top-6 teams losing this past weekend, according to FPI and ESPN. They all won. The powerhouse Chaos was beaten by the underdog, a 3-touchdown David taking down Goliath.
4. Today though, the motives for the Big 12 got a little skewed. Never to be confused as a popular man in Waco already, Bob Bowlsby did it again. The Big 12’s commissioner appeared on the Dan Patrick radio show and was asked a very simple question. Who would Bowlsby have voted for as the 4th member of the playoffs? He answered TCU. "The only reason I say that is because I thought they were in a better position to stay there [in the top four]." "The only reason I say that is because I thought they were in a better position to stay there [in the top four]."
Look, I am not even upset that he said TCU. That is fine, and it truly doesn’t matter. Sure, it will upset Baylor fans, and rightfully so. My main issue is that he EVEN ANSWERED THE QUESTION! How can you answer that and pick either school. How can you be that dense to not realize that you should probably not swing at that pitch. Of course, he back-tracked a little bit and said that he was happy that the committee put the Bears in front of TCU as "It was the right thing to do." I don’t know if Bowlsby is the right guy to be giving thoughts on right things or wrong things to do right now.
5. In the end, the Bears are in the Cotton Bowl, a “worst-case” scenario for the Big 12 champs. They will play Michigan State in front of hopefully a rowdy stadium in front of at least 50,000 Baylor fans. With a school record 12th win still a possibility and a Top-5 finish on the table with a win, the Bears still have something to play for. Yes, it isn’t a shot at Alabama or a National Championship, but it is something. Michigan State is a Top-10 team in all of the polls, and happens to be a big part of the conference that knocked the Bears and the Big 12 out of the playoffs. In terms of “worst-case” that sure is pretty good.