Would the Bears have made the Playoff had the Big 12 played a title game?
It appears that a rule forcing a college football conference to have at least 12 teams and two divisions to hold a championship game will be nullified by 2016.
Fans across the Big 12 are ecstatic.
But the Big 12 didn’t get left out of the College Football Playoff because it didn’t play a conference championship game.
Baylor got left out because the Playoff Committee thought — rightly so, as it turns out — that Ohio State was the better team. (A horrendous non-conference schedule didn’t help the Bears’ case.)
Fans want to believe that all it would’ve taken to get Baylor into the Playoff was a Big 12 title game.
But what if Baylor had lost?
Then a Big 12 Championship Game would have actually hurt the Big 12.
There is some preconceived notion that adding a championship game would automatically help the Big 12. History shows us that this couldn’t be further from the truth.
Related: 2015 Big 12 Schedule Analysis
In fact, SEC commissioner Roy Kramer came under heavy scrutiny in 1992 when he implemented college football’s first conference title game in the SEC. Had Alabama’s Antonio Langham not intercepted a Shane Matthews pass and returned it 27 yards for a game-winning touchdown, Kramer would have been destroyed by fans and media for costing his conference and the No. 1-ranked Crimson Tide a chance at the national championship.
Big 12 fans should know all about this heartbreak.
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In 1996, Nebraska was poised to play for a national championship after an unbeaten Big 12 season. But a historic fourth-down conversion from Texas in the Big 12’s first-ever title game dropped the Huskers from national championship contention.
Again in 1998, Kansas State was going to play in the first-ever BCS Championship Game after No. 2 UCLA lost to Miami. Yet, the unbeaten Wildcats lost in double overtime to Texas A&M, relegating Bill Snyder’s bunch to the Alamo Bowl.
Texas was headed to the 2001 national championship game because No. 2 Tennessee lost to LSU in the SEC title game. But the Horns couldn’t finish the deal, losing 39-37 to Colorado in the Big 12 title game. The Longhorns lost a shot at the national title because of the Big 12 title game.
And the most painful example, the 2007 Missouri Tigers. Gary Pinkel’s bunch entered the Big 12 title game ranked No. 1 in the nation with a clear path to the BCS title game. But the Sooners smoked the Tigers 38-17 and the Big 12 watched a two-loss LSU team win the BCS title.
It isn’t just the Big 12 that has been hurt either. Had Ohio State beat Michigan State in the 2013 Big Ten title game, the undefeated Buckeyes would have played Florida State in the final BCS title game. But alas, Connor Cook happened.
Just like the Longhorns in 2001, the Tennessee Vols were a victim of the same crime that same year. As was Georgia in ‘12, Florida in ‘09 and Alabama in ’08 — all teams poised to play in the BCS title game had they not lost in a conference title game.
Does a championship game make boatloads of revenue? Does it create a fanatical season-finale atmosphere? Is it must-see TV? Can a title game give a team one extra huge win for its resume? Check, check, check and check.
Does a championship game give your favorite conference a better chance at making the College Football Playoff?
The answer is pretty clearly no... not every year.