Yearly Nebraska-Oklahoma Matchup Would Solve Big 12 Balance Problem
The Big 12 conference has a significant balance problem. The Big 12 South is dominant over the Big 12 North.
In the 2009 season, four Big 12 South teams had conference winning records (Texas, Texas Tech, Oklahoma State, and Oklahoma). The Big 12 North had only one, the University of Nebraska.
The Big 12 South teams had 28 conference wins compared to only 20 conference wins for the Big 12 North.
This football dominance has been consistent over the last 10 years. So what is the problem with one division being dominant over the other?
Each team in the Big 12 plays every team in it's division yearly. Each team plays teams outside it's division on a two games every four years schedule.
So in practice, every year each Big 12 South team plays all five Big 12 South teams, and three Big 12 North teams, for eight conference games.
When you have a dominant conference division playing each other, you increase the risk for highly ranked teams to knock each other out of the national championship and BCS bowl contention.
A good example of this was the 2008 football season. Texas, Oklahoma, and Texas Tech finished tied for the division lead with one conference loss. This resulted from Texas beating Oklahoma, Texas Tech beating Texas, and Oklahoma beating Texas Tech.
Texas Tech was denied a chance to play in a BCS bowl despite their high end-of-year national ranking.
The imbalance problem is really one of financial imbalance. Total football revenue in 2008 for the Big 12 South was $231 million dollars compared to only $168 million for the Big 12 North.
It makes sense to have geographic grouping for the conference, but not when geographic grouping produces such a large financial imbalance.
I would propose a simple solution. Move the University of Oklahoma to the Big 12 North and move the University of Colorado to the Big 12 South.
This narrows the football revenue gap from $63 million to $32 million. It reduces the total revenue gap from $113 million to $50 million.
This simple re-alignment results in some increased travel for teams, but not really that much. The total travel distances would be minimally increased.
This realignment would reduce the frequency of two Big 12 South rivalries. The yearly Oklahoma-Oklahoma State Bedlam game and the yearly Oklahoma-Texas Red River game would be reduced to two games every four years.
However, one big plus to the realignment would be the return of a yearly matchup between the University of Nebraska and the University of Oklahoma. This was usually the annual "Big Game" in the former Big Eight conference.
A realignment to address the financial imbalance in the Big 12 could bring back a yearly college football classic.
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