With the Big 12 facing a critical season after getting left out in Year 1 one of the College Football Playoff, we debate this question: Should the league implement a championship game if its gets snubbed from the playoff again this season?
Take 1: Brandon Chatmon -- No
It feels like it’s pretty much a given the Big 12 will make substantial changes if Year 2 of the College Football Playoff comes and goes without a conference member involved for the second straight season.
Yet I don’t think that is the way to go. And it doesn’t really matter what the move is either.
A Big 12 title game. Expansion. Amped up nonconference schedules. None of it will save the Big 12.
A title game just means the Big 12 champion can be mad if it's left out after winning a conference title game. After all, if Baylor beating a No. 9 Kansas State (ranked No. 9 by the College Football Playoff Committee by the way) by 11 points on Championship Saturday is not enough, why should we believe a Big 12 title game would have changed the outcome? Because of a neutral site? Didn't we go to a committee to get a human element that would recognize a double-digit victory over a top-10 team as a quality win? (not to mention title games can do more harm than good).
Expansion won’t do much either. Unless, of course, the conference could attract name programs in other conferences. But it appears that ship has sailed, so adding BYU, Central Florida or other available programs won’t take the conference’s outlook to a different stratosphere.
Amping up conference schedules won’t do much either. People talk as if adding tougher nonconference schedules will help the conference as a whole. Well, it would if the Big 12 wins those games. If they don’t, it just makes the road to a playoff berth even harder. Normally I’m all for facing the best competition and in a scenario with eight playoff teams I’d be strongly behind a conference-wide mandate to play a Power 5 opponent. But when one Power 5 conference is guaranteed to be left out each year, I’d lean toward teams giving themselves the best chance to remain undefeated because that’s the only way I think a Big 12 team can guarantee itself a spot.
It all comes down to the fact that I’m not much for change just for change's sake. If anything was guaranteed to help the Big 12 in its pursuit of a playoff berth, count me in. But I don’t see any options that should be considered a guarantee ... even if the Big 12 is snubbed again.
Take 2: Jake Trotter -- Yes
Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, well, you know how it goes.
There isn't any doubt the Big 12 is operating at a disadvantage by staging only 12 regular-season games without a championship game. Playoff committee chairman Jeff Long said as much in the spring. Getting snubbed out of the playoff once with two deserving teams in TCU and Baylor might have been an anomaly. Getting snubbed again a second straight season would signify a trend.
“I think this year will indicate a lot,” Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops recently told me. “Whether we’re being hurt by not having a championship game.”
Stoops is right.
And every year the Big 12 misses out on the playoff, it chips away at the league's credibility. Not only does the league lose millions watching the playoff from home. But it becomes more difficult to recruit. Blue-chip players want to play in conferences that also play for national championships. The Big 12 hasn't played for one since 2009. And it hasn't won one since 2005.
The league is in no condition to be operating from a disadvantage before the season even begins.
Sure, a championship game comes with risk. The regular-season champ might lose the title game, robbing the Big 12 of its best chance at the playoff. It happened to Kansas State in 1998 and Missouri in 2007.
But the risk of losing doesn't outweigh controlling one's own destiny. The Big 12 last year didn't control its destiny. Instead, it had to root for Ohio State and Florida State to lose, neither of which happened. The Big 12 could even help protect its regular-season champ by allowing it to host the conference championship game.
Either way, if the Big 12 gets left out again, it must take action. Because these days in college football, it's all about getting in to the playoff.
And it's better to play your way in than wait for others to play their way out.