Big 12 Football 2012: Conference Should Stay at 10 Teams in Current Climate
Oliver Luck started the talk before West Virginia even played their first Big 12 contest. Now, Tommy Tuberville, the coach at Texas Tech, has chimed in. They want the Big 12 to add more members. Tuberville, who spent most of his head coaching career in the SEC, falls in line with Luck and wants a championship game, which can only be had by adding two more teams.
All signs in the general college football world point to a conference championship game being the next logical move for the conference. Only the Big East and Big 12 lack the revenue producing, strength-of-schedule-boosting league title game in the BCS ranks. From the macro lens all signs point to yes, the league should go to 12 members and resume the title game that they ran for over a decade.
Unfortunately, in dealing with the Big 12 the macro lens is not the scope through which the situation should be viewed. The Big 12, led by power brokers Texas and Oklahoma, are at 10 for a reason; they don't want the conference championship game. While schools like Texas Tech or West Virginia see a revenue benefit from the competition, the two schools controlling the purse strings of the conference want no part of the contest.
The issue is simple—the teams don't want to play an extra game. There is no desire to play 13 games when, through nine conference games, they feel like they can get to a title game playing 12. Think of it this way: Florida and Alabama don't see the point in scheduling more than one tough non-conference game; no need to assume extra risk when you can do less and still get there.
Oklahoma and Texas are most certainly on to something here. Until the landscape shifts to push towards four 16-team conferences, there truly is no need for the Big 12 to move. They still boast quite a challenging round robin conference schedule with Oklahoma, Texas, TCU, Oklahoma State, West Virginia and a resurgent Kansas State on the docket. Those in-conference games are as tough as any combo in the nation from a "who did you beat" standpoint.
In addition to the schedule standing up to the test, the current climate, where a four-team playoff looms large, should entice the teams to stand pat. A Big 12 team in the top four would be playing in only the semifinal and the final en route to a championship. That's a smart play. The Pac-12, SEC, Big Ten and ACC will send their division champs to play a challenging conference title game, then a semifinal followed by a title game. With the exception of the Pac-12, who plays their conference title game at a home site; that is a lot of travel for a team in addition to the on-field tests of playing the games.
Tuberville and Luck are thinking big picture. They are seeing the massive forest that is college football and attempting to tailor their league's progress to fall in line with this big picture. But until it becomes imperative, the league is wise to hold at 10. Give their teams the easiest route to a BCS title, don't put more on their plate.
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