Big 12 Football: Does the Big 12 Want a Title Game or What?

Lisa Horne@LisaHornePac-12 and Big 12 Lead WriterFebruary 22, 2013

Jul 23, 2012; Dallas, TX, USA; Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby speaks to reporters during Big 12 Media Day at the Westin Galleria.  Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports
Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

The Big 12 conference currently stands with 10 members, no conference championship and no plans on expansion. And apparently, it's content with that.

No wait, it's not. 

It wants the option of being able to hold a conference championship despite not having the current minimum of 12 member schools.

According to an ESPN report, the league has asked the NCAA for permission to hold a conference championship game with its current 10-school membership.

Okay, it sounds like Big 12 Commish Bob Bowlsby wants to hold a conference championship, but he's having problems reaching that magic number 12. He can't seem to either A) attract coveted schools to the Big 12, or B) he can't keep other schools (*cough* like Missouri or Texas A&M) from bolting to other BCS conferences. So why not just bend the rules? 

But Bowlsby is not making his point very clear here because at a school function at Oklahoma State, Bowlsby reportedly said that it wasn't prudent for the Big 12 to hold a conference championship game. More from that ESPN report: 

"Take a look at the attendance on the conference championship games this year and take a look at the TV ratings," Bowlsby said. "They aren't the kind of things that are going to invite you to take that up as a new business proposition."


So if Bowlsby doesn't think it's something the Big 12 should invest in, then why ask the NCAA if his league can hold a conference championship without the required 12 teams? It takes effort to request anything from the NCAA so obviously, the Big 12 wants a conference championship. It takes even more effort to contradict yourself by poo-pooing the notion of the Big 12 holding a conference championship due to attendance and TV ratings.

Isn't that like announcing to your friends that your New Year's resolution is to eat more healthily and then complaining to them at your weekly luncheon that you're tired of sushi—and next week everyone is going to In 'N Out Burgers?  

While you're salivating over the thought of a double-double, let's get back to issue at hand. The actual conference championship's game isn't all the Big 12 should be looking at—the ensuing benefits are what should pique Bowlsby's interest.

It's a 13th game. It increases a team's strength of schedule. It offers a better opportunity for the league to send two teams to two BCS bowls—remember Commish, last season you only sent Kansas State to the Fiesta Bowl—and more than anything else, it keeps you with the Joneses—a.k.a., the ACC, Big Ten, Pac-12 and SEC. 

Bowlsby, according to the report, says his request to the NCAA was an attempt to deregulate how conferences determine their champions. Right.

Look, nobody likes the NCAA because of how it wields its iron hand at schools who break rules and then pinches it itself when it takes "missteps" in its own investigations. But what this really sounds like is Bowlsby isn't interested in any "available" schools to add to his conference or, more likely, he can't attract the schools he really wants, so the best solution is to throw out a request with the word "deregulation" in it and hope the NCAA bites on it.

I'm pretty sure the NCAA will stamp "denied" on his request. The NCAA may drive sports fans batty with its decision making, but we do know the Association is comprised of a lot of smart college graduates, some of whom are lawyers. It's a smart group, although its Enforcement Committee is overzealous. 

Nevertheless, one of those smarty pants in Indianapolis is probably texting his coworkers right now (from a burner phone) asking them to vote against the Big 12's request because a conference championship's ratings and attendance "aren't the kind of things that are going to invite you to take that up as a new business proposition."

And Bowlsby, by his own admission, can't even argue with the NCAA's decision, since he really doesn't think it's an inviting proposition in the first place.

In other words, this whole thing was pointless.