Coaches' disdain for Big 12 title game is wrong


Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- We're here for the 13th edition of the Big 12 championship game, something most coaches still aren't exactly excited to be playing in the first place.

Coaches went on record before the conference was even formed that they weren't crazy about the addition of an extra game after the regular season ended. The vote was 11-0, with then-Texas A&M coach R.C. Slocum unable to attend. He's said he would have voted against it as well if he had gotten the chance.

Most have remained adamant about not wanting the game, but it's done little good. The extra money provided to cash-strapped athletic departments has become an expected revenue source. For better or worse, the title game has become a part of the Big 12's landscape.

That's not to say we haven't had some memorable moments over the years. Take a look at some of stunning upsets in which teams in AP's top 3 have lost in the Big 12 title game.

  • 1996 -- A gutsy fourth-down pass from deep in his own territory helped John Mackovic and Texas claim a 37-27 stunner over No. 3 Nebraska.

  • 1998 -- Texas A&M's wild 36-33 double-overtime victory over No. 2 Kansas State denied the Wildcats a chance to play in the national championship game.

  • 2001 -- Colorado took advantage of a rash of early mistakes by Chris Simms and withstood a furious late comeback rally by Major Applewhite to dash the No. 3 Longhorns' BCS hopes in a 39-37 victory.

  • 2003 -- Many were calling No. 1 Oklahoma one of the best teams of all time before they ran into Darren Sproles and Kansas State. Sproles gashed them for 235 yards to key a 35-7 upset that remains Bob Stoops' only Big 12 title game loss.

  • 2007 -- Curtis Lofton keyed a second-half run with a pivotal interception, sparking Oklahoma's 38-17 upset over No. 1 Missouri.

And games like those are precisely why the title game is such a good idea. It focuses national attention on the conference and has sparked some intriguing games over the years.

Sure, the games has become one-sided since that Kansas State victory in 2003. Big 12 South teams have won the last four games by a combined core of 171-30 and have trailed for a grand total of 3 minutes, 22 seconds during that 240-minute span.

But who knows what could happen Saturday night at Arrowhead Stadium? Maybe Derrick Washington morphs into a version of Sproles on a similarly icy field.

Or Jeremy Maclin erupts for a huge game, slicing through Oklahoma's much-maligned special teams like so many other kick returners have done this season.

Or Sam Bradford leads the Sooners to a convincing victory to put an exclamation mark on his Heisman Trophy bid.

I'm just glad the coaches got outvoted way back when. The Big 12 has benefitted from having the title game.