The DI Council has approved a proposal that will allow conference championship football games for leagues with less than 12 members.
The council's vote adopted conference championship football games to be conducted in one of the following two ways:
1. A game between division champions of a member conference that is divided into two divisions (as equally balanced as possible), each of which conducts round-robin, regular-season competition among the members of that division; or,
2. A game between the top two teams in the conference standings following a full round-robin regular-season schedule of competition among all members of the conference.
After being left out of the inaugural college football playoff in 2014, Big 12 officials made a push to change NCAA rules, which previously restricted conference championship football games to only leagues with 12 or more member institutions.
However, the approval of this proposal does not necessarily mean the Big 12 will implement a conference championship football game, as Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby released in a statement Wednesday afternoon.
“It is too early to speculate on the impact this will have with our member institutions regarding a football championship game. I appreciate that what was acted upon today takes into account our unique 10-team, full round-robin scheduling model. However, this vote does not automatically mean the Big 12 will implement a football championship game. Our membership will continue to analyze its pros and cons, as we now know the requirements should we decide to go down that path.”
The Big 12 has prided itself on being the only Power 5 conference with a round-robin schedule, and has claimed the notion of having a "One True Champion" due to the round-robin schedule. However, (now former) CFP selection committee chairman Jeff Long claimed the lack of a thirteenth football game in 2014 was one of the reasons why the Big 12 was left out of the college football playoff.
Even though the Big 12 was able to secure a college football playoff spot last season, there is no guarantee of a similar outcome moving forward.
While the conference will not immediately take action regarding this matter, it will be interesting to see how the Big 12 proceeds in the coming months.
My thoughts: The Big 12 was able to secure one-of-four coveted spots in year two of the College Football Playoff. However, that does not mean what happened at the end of the 2015 regular season will continue to play out in the future.
There is simply no reason to believe the committee would make the same decision and put a Big 12 school into the 2015 College Football Playoff if TCU or Baylor were in Oklahoma's position, as both were in 2014. Schools like Oklahoma and Texas will almost certainly draw in a larger audience and more revenue than small private schools - such as TCU or Baylor - due to the rich history and tradition that follows those programs. Money drives college football and it would be foolish to think the CFP committee does not recognize that.
A lot is on the table when considering the potential championship game revenue dollars, deciding on a fair structure of a potential conference championship game, any impact this may have on future conference expansion, whether or not the pros outweigh the cons, etc.
There is no doubt the Big 12 and member institutions have a tough decision to make, but at the end of the day, all involved need to realize that what played out in 2015 may not always be the case moving forward.