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Bob Bowlsby 'fairly confident' Big 12 can fix tiebreaker issue, eliminate co-champs

4/28/2015
USA TODAY Sports, AP Photo

IRVING, Texas -- The Big 12 will have “one true champion” in 2015.

No, really.

After taking heat last season for crowning co-champions in TCU and Baylor, Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby said Tuesday the league will use a head-to-head tiebreaker to determine its champion this fall and is in the process of figuring out a three-way tiebreaker.

“I’m fairly confident we’ll act to put in place a tiebreaker that will determine our champion,” he told a small group of reporters at the College Football Playoff spring meetings. “That will eliminate one of the variables from last year.”

Bowlsby declined to get into specifics about potential three-way tiebreaker scenarios.

“There’s more than one way to skin a cat,” he said. “Probably the simplest is to get to two as quickly as you can and then use head-to-head. Most of our thinking has been along those lines.”

Bowlsby said the league’s athletic directors and football coaches could resolve the issue at the league meetings in Arizona next week, but ultimately the changes to the rulebook would be made by the joint council at meetings at the end of May.

Did the Big 12’s method of determining its champion even really matter?

Bowlsby said he has spoken with several CFP committee members since the season ended, and none of them indicated it would have made a difference if the conference had used a head-to-head tiebreaker to award Baylor the outright championship.

“But human nature being what it is,” Bowlsby said, “you have to have your suspicions that perhaps it could’ve made a difference.”

Bowlsby, the nine other FBS commissioners and Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick comprise the CFP’s management committee. With an overwhelming review of success for the playoff’s first season, the event’s first spring meetings are expected to be relatively quiet.

Bowlsby, though, joked he has some work to do.

While he’s not here to second-guess the committee’s decision, Bowlsby said he will be asking for clarity about how valuable a conference championship game is.

“In the end, I think our regular season is better than anybody else’s regular season,” he said. “How does that weigh in the equation? We play everybody and nobody else does. Is ours a better way of determining a champion or is theirs? Well, I don’t think you can do better than a round robin. Whether we should have a title game or not? I’ve advocated before that we should deregulate that rule and conferences should be able to decide how they do that. I think that will happen. If anything, this probably hastens that, the fact that we got left out and that there is some talk about it.”

Bowlsby also said the conference will discuss the possibility of issuing a scheduling mandate, similar to that of the Big Ten and SEC.

“It isn’t just Baylor,” he said. “Every school has their own scheduling philosophy. In some respect that is their business, but to the extent it has an impact on others in the conference and the conference overall, I think we need to have that conversation. My guess is we’ll talk about that next week, too, and you’ll get a robust debate. There are those who would say that’s crazy. If you go undefeated through our conference, where it doesn’t matter if we play 12 games or 13 games, you’re going to get into the playoff. That may be true. On the other hand, going undefeated in a league where there’s a full round robin is easier said than done.”