The Big 12 did not have a team selected for the College Football Playoff for the second time in three years. And now Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby seems confused about what to do next.
“I'm not sure what I advise my members right now, because we've been telling them that nonconference schedules matter, and one of the four has an exceedingly weak nonconference schedule...I'd just like to know what we're supposed to advise our members. Does the 13th data point make a difference, or does it not? Does the conference championship game make a difference, or does it not? Are they only used as tiebreakers, or is it other metrics?”
Ohio State made this year’s Playoff despite only playing in 12 games, which was an argument against TCU and Baylor in 2014 (but also worked in Playoff entrant Oklahoma’s favor in 2015). The Big 12 responded to the 2014 snubs by having a two-year freakout about expansion that didn’t lead to expansion.
And Washington has a weak non-conference schedule, but an average overall schedule.
Bowlsby isn’t saying that Oklahoma should have been selected over Washington or Ohio State. In fact, he specifically says, “We didn't have a team that was a likely participant in the playoff, and so from that standpoint it doesn't make a lot of difference to us this year.”
But the Big 12 decided to add a conference championship game for next season, even though it only has 10 teams and no divisions, in part because the conference believed it would improve its chances of making the Playoff.
Whether the Big 12 has a conference championship game or not probably isn’t the reason it doesn’t have a team in the Playoff. Oklahoma lost two games before Big 12 play, and outside of West Virginia’s win over BYU and Oklahoma State’s win over Pitt, the conference lost almost every important non-conference game, tanking the league’s perception and strength of schedule metrics. If Big 12 teams had won a few of those games, maybe this is a different conversation.
Bowlsby would probably like some additional details, but hey, every year is different, and mapping out specifics for every scenario is probably hard to do.
But if there’s any league that will overreact to something like this, hold meetings for 10 months, and then decide to do something silly, it might be the Big 12.