The College Football Playoff is set, and the field features champions of four of the five power conferences, including the Ohio State Buckeyes at No. 4 after a 59-0 win over Wisconsin. Much to the chagrin of TCU and Baylor, the only major conference that won't participate in the four-team Playoff is the Big 12.
While Alabama, Oregon, Florida State, and Ohio State all secured conference title game victories over the weekend, TCU and Baylor split the Big 12 title. Despite the Bears earning a 61-58 victory over the Horned Frogs in October, the "One True Champion" marketing campaign of the Big 12 Conference proved farcical, as the lack of a singular representative became a joke by the end of the season.
And based on what the committee had to say, it seems it mattered.
"Ohio State's performance in a 13th game gave them a quality win over a highly ranked team," said committee chairman Jeff Long on ESPN.
Jeff Long essentially says Big 12 hurt itself without a championship game. Bob Bowlsby has some work to do.— Adam Rittenberg (@ESPNRittenberg) December 7, 2014
Baylor AD Ian McCaw said last night B12 would petition NCAA for right to stage championship game despite having 10 teams. Current min is 12— Dan Wetzel (@DanWetzel) December 7, 2014
Long on Big 12: "We were presented with co champions. In the other situations, we had definitive champions for that conference."— Stewart Mandel (@slmandel) December 7, 2014
Bowlsby: "It's clear we were penalized for not having a championship game..That will cause us to go back to the drawing board a little bit."— Geoff Calkins (@geoff_calkins) December 7, 2014
It's a problem that won't be fixed immediately, as the NCAA currently forbids conferences with fewer than 12 teams from having league championship games. Instead, the Big 12 would need to expand to 12 teams to set up a scenario where "One True Champion" could actually be decided without the potential for tiebreakers.
Bob Bowlsby, the Big 12 commissioner, has gone out of his way to make sure everyone knows that the conference is perfectly happy with 10 teams. But with the lack of a deciding game perhaps proving costly in 2014, it wouldn't be surprising if Bowlsby is singing a different tune sooner rather than later.
In October, when the mess of Baylor and TCU sitting tied at the top of the conference had just begun brewing, Bowlsby said there are "no obvious candidates" to add to the Big 12. However, Bowlsby left the door open some for expansion, ruling out the addition of teams from other power conferences. He called the addition of non-power conference teams a possibility.
There's not much solid reporting on where the Big 12 would look next, if it did decide to expand. But long-speculated candidates for addition to the Big 12 include the Cincinnati Bearcats, Memphis Tigers, or UCF Knights of the American Athletic Conference, the independent BYU Cougars, or the Boise State Broncos of the Mountain West.
What matters right now, though, is that the Big 12 is the odd man out of the College Football Playoff despite having two one-loss teams.
Committee chairman Jeff Long: "I think with the championship game Ohio State demonstrated that they were a total team."— Land-Grant Holy Land (@Landgrant33) December 7, 2014