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The old Big 12 Championship ruined plenty of national title contenders. Why bring it back?

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The Big 12 wants a league title game because the Playoff committee punished it in 2014. But this conference more than any other should already know the risks.

In 2001's Big 12 title game, No. 7 Colorado knocked Texas out of the national championship.
In 2001's Big 12 title game, No. 7 Colorado knocked Texas out of the national championship.
Brian Bahr/Getty Images

Thursday, Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby more or less announced the conference will add a championship game, assuming reversal of the NCAA rule preventing leagues with fewer than 12 teams from doing so.

In principle, I've always had a problem with this. The idea behind conference title games -- beyond "This will make us a lot of money" -- is that it's a healthy way to determine a conference champion when you couldn't decide such a thing with round-robin scheduling. When conferences moved to 12 teams and beyond, it made sense to break into divisions and have the winners play each other. Sometimes that would produce a rematch, but it wasn't guaranteed.

The Big 12 plays a perfect round robin, with all 10 teams facing each other each year. The "One True Champion!" mantra (which was relevant for, what, a month or two?) was based on this being a superior method for determining who wins the ring.

However, since 100 percent of all College Football Playoff committees -- one of one -- have chosen conference title game winners over Big 12 champions, the conference has changed its tune.

'What we heard was that if we don't go to a championship game, we're at a disadvantage,' Bowlsby said. 'If we don't make changes, we're potentially going into the season with a short stick in our hand.'

We're used to short-sighted decision-making in sports, but this is impressive.

The issue in 2014, when Ohio State leaped into the final spot ahead of the Big 12's two true champions, wasn't that Ohio State got a 13th game and Baylor and TCU did not. It's that the Buckeyes got a 13th game and looked spectacular in it. That isn't guaranteed to be the case.

The original Big 12 Championship, which capped each season from 1996 to 2010, cost the Big 12 four BCS title spots. In 1996 (Texas over Nebraska), 1998 (Texas A&M over Kansas State), 2001 (Colorado over Texas), and 2007 (Oklahoma over Missouri), upsets prevented teams from playing for the big prize.

In 2000 (top-ranked Oklahoma beat Kansas State by three), 2003 (Oklahoma got whacked by Kansas State but still made it), and 2009 (Texas survived Nebraska with a last-second field goal), the championship nearly cost the conference as well.

Let's put that in percentages: 27 percent of the Big 12's title games cost the conference in the national title race, and another 20 percent nearly did the same.

Not a single Big 12 title game in 15 years would have been a winner-take-all, champion-makes-the-Playoff situation. None featured two teams ranked seventh or higher in the AP poll, and while there would have been some interesting discussions about teams like 1998 Texas A&M and 2001 Colorado, there was never a situation like 2014's, when Baylor and TCU each entered in the top five.

A 10-team-league championship game would present a bonus for the conference. It would only have to split the added cash 10 ways, as opposed to 12 or 14, and it would allow the conference to pick the top two instead of choosing division winners. This approach is more likely to pit two Playoff-caliber combatants.

Still, from the 15-year sample, in only three seasons did two Big 12 teams reach championship weekend in the top six of the polls: 2003 (Oklahoma and Texas), 2004 (Oklahoma and Texas), and 2008 (Texas and Oklahoma). Again, other late-surging teams could have made things interesting -- not only 1998 Texas A&M and 2001 Colorado, but also the 1997 and 1999 Kansas State teams -- but the Big 12's rhetoric suggests that 2014 was something that will happen every year. That's ridiculous.

The Big 12 has either forgotten everything about the other side of championship games, or it assumes we have. I think the latter might actually be a better look.

A championship game would probably be a financial net win. And hey, go capitalism. But if this gambit is truly in the name of helping the conference in the Playoff race, the Big 12 should be very careful what it's wishing for.