Nebraska and Colorado won a combined four national titles in the 1990s. The Huskers played for another in 2001. Despite the Buffaloes' recent struggles, the loss of both teams presumably weakens the Big 12. But according to BCS director Bill Hancock, not too much.
"I don't think it'll make a big difference as far as how the BCS works. I think that all kind of remains to be seen, but certainly the Big 12 champion still has a slot and whoever wins that league is going to be a darn good team," Hancock said. "From our standpoint, I just don't see any significant difference."
Realignment speculation was rampant throughout the summer, but Hancock declined to speculate on if the Big 12 would have retained its automatic qualifier status.
Though a nine-game conference schedule has eliminated some of the worries, some of that speculation included sentiments that schools hoping to contend for a national title would have to amp up their nonconference schedules in lieu of a matchup with Nebraska and the likely to be eliminated Big 12 title game after the 10-team Big 12 takes effect.
"I think each school is going to have its own opinion about that. Scheduling is such an important topic among coaches, but some of the coaches I talk to really think that if you have three or four nonconference games, you ought to schedule one "A" game, one "B" game and one "C" game," Hancock said. "I think people around the country are scratching their heads trying to figure out if that ought to continue or not."
But no one's hiding from the importance of scheduling. The headache of scheduling four nonconference games per season should be gone soon from the Big 12, but another headache might make a cameo in December if a weak nonconference schedule and a down year in the Big 12 leaves a conference team out of the championship or just out of the running for an at-large bid into the BCS.
"I know that because of the strength of schedule being factored into the computer rankings, I know that who you play makes a significant difference. And I know that coaches are aware of that," Hancock said. "And I suppose adding a conference game to your schedule and doing away with a nonconference game will change some people's thinking, but again, I think it's too early to speculate on how that change might be manifested."