If the Big 12 can grease the wheels of the NCAA and land a Big 12 championship game, the only logical move for the league is to pull the trigger and make it happen. The game could find a stable home, it would help out the league's end-of-season strength of schedule and position it for putting its team into the playoffs.
Now, perhaps you're a reader of Your Best 11 and you remember pieces like this one, or maybe even this one. Posts where I've been adamantly opposed to the idea of the Big 12 expanding beyond the 10 teams it currently has.
That has not changed.
The difference does not come in the number of teams in the league. Rather, the shift comes from the news that the Big 12, led by commissioner Bob Bowlsby, is seeking a waiver to have a conference championship while remaining a 10-team league, per the Associated Press (via ESPN). In Bowlsby's words:
At a time when lots of deregulation is taking place, it seems a little bit odd that the NCAA would be describing how we determine our champions.
I think it's reasonable to say if you're going to have a champion that you're going to have to designate it in one fashion or another. But to say it has to be between 12 schools or that there has to be divisional play or there has to be a round-robin, we're deregulating lots of things and that certainly is a candidate.
In other words, as the NCAA looks to take itself out of some aspects of the small governing of the game, Bowlsby and the Big 12 feel the time is right for them to be the first 10-team league with a title game. Good on him, and with that waiver hanging out there the league would get to elbow its way back into the conference championship-game business.
That means a big game to negotiate into its television package, most likely with Fox. It means having one game on the big stage just like the SEC, ACC, Pac-12 and Big Ten instead of the smattering of games of varying importance just pushed out a week, as they have now.
If the league can get the waiver, then certainly it should go for it.
As for expansion? Bowlsby makes a clear point on that front during the aforementioned Associated Press report as well, saying, "We are unconvinced at this point that larger is better."
Pretty clear where the league falls in that regard, and I tend to agree. There is no real value to be gained through the addition of any realistic target, outside of Notre Dame. It has a very robust conference schedule due to the round-robin play, and the league's television deal puts it near the top of the collegiate landscape. Throw in the grant-of-rights deal that the conference has, and in the foreseeable future there will be stability.
If the conference can get the waiver through, that would be like having its proverbial cake and eating it too—staying at 10 teams, the possibility of round-robin scheduling plus the cash grab of the Big 12 championship game to close out the year in a big way.
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