Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Big 12 Expansion Should Precede A Conference Championship Game

Publisher Brad Hardcastle explains why the Big 12 may regret playing a championship game with only 10 conference members.

I bet so many fans of Big 12 teams were elated with joy when they found out that conferences with 10 members can have a championship game, under NCAA rules.

Oh yes. Finally. No more getting slighted by the playoff committee in the final week of the selection process. The playing field is now even. The two best teams in the Big 12 can now prove their worth to the committee of athletic directors, former coaches and Condoleezza Rice, so that they can claim a spot to compete for a national championship.

No more tiebreakers that are more difficult to explain than the second season of True Detective. 

No more excuses for committee members who have a bias toward teams that have above average defenses.

And more importantly, there will now be ONE TRUE CHAMPION!

What a time to be alive!

I’m kidding, of course. This is a terrible idea if the Big 12 decides to play a conference championship game with only 10 teams. 

The main reason as to why this is such a dumb idea is the fact that every team already plays each other. What’s the point of a championship game if you’ve played everyone in the regular season? Yes, there have been rematches in past conference championship games, but normally those teams didn’t just play the exact same conference schedule, which would be the case if the Big 12 decides that there will be a conference championship game next year.

Also, this structure can backfire befind the conference’s reasoning for the decision, which is to better the chances of getting at least one team into the college football playoff.

Let's say first place Kansas (11-1) has to play second place Iowa State (9-3) in the championship game (cruel joke, I know). If all of the other Power Five conference champions are either undefeated or have one loss, as they did the past two season, Kansas would most likely be left out if Iowa State were to pull the upset. Thus, the Big 12 gets left out of the playoff for the second time in three seasons.

While implementing a conference championship game with only 10 teams would be a risky move for the Big 12, expanding to 12 teams would certainly help reduce that risk and raise conference membership so that the Big 12 is no longer the smallest Power Five conference.

There are several schools that have proven themselves worthy of a Big 12 invite. Teams that have become mainstays in the Top 25 polls over the past few seasons such as Houston, Boise State and BYU are all deserving of an invitation to join the Big 12. I mean, they can’t be any worse than Kansas and Iowa State, can they?

Of course, there are many who are skeptical of these programs' success. There are questions if Houston can hold on to its coaching staff. Some think Boise State’s best days are behind them since Chris Petersen left for Washington. BYU just lost Bronco Mendenhall to Virginia, a program that’s had just two winning season in the last decade.

There are reasons to be skeptical of adding a team from outside the Power Five to the Big 12, but look how TCU has faired since they were added to the conference in 2012. The Frogs won the conference in 2014 and finished in third place this year. And more importantly, they’ve held onto Gary Patterson, who interviewed for multiple SEC jobs before TCU got its Big 12 invitation after Texas A&M, Missouri, Colorado and Nebraska jumped ship. Perhaps Big membership for these schools could keep coaches around for the longhaul. 

Despite the skepticism from the naysayers, it’s apparent that conference expansion is an option for the Big 12. But it appears that the Big 12 may be a bit gun shy after losing big during conference realignment in the summer of 2010. Instead, it appears that the Big 12 may be willing to cut corners in hopes that adding an extra game bolsters its members’ playoff chances.

If that’s the case, prepare for end of the season controversy to continue to be a hallmark of Big 12 football. That is, if the Big 12 will still be around for much longer. 

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