DALLAS -- In order to best position the league for a spot in future playoff games, Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby said the conference will continue to discuss how it crowns a conference champion, look into the importance of a 13th game and consider requiring a Power 5 conference opponent in nonconference schedules.
Bowlsby, who met on Sunday with a small group of reporters in town for the College Football Playoff National Championship presented by AT&T, spoke about a variety of topics regarding the playoff.
The Big 12 was a major storyline in the inaugural College Football Playoff after the conference, which uses the slogan "One True Champion," announced Baylor and TCU as co-champs this season. TCU fell from No. 3 to No. 6 in the selection committee's final ranking behind No. 5 Baylor, which won the head-to-head matchup.
"We talked about it once, we'll talk about it again," Bowlsby said of the league title. "I was very proud of our athletic directors, to be honest about it, because they didn't have a knee-jerk reaction. There wasn't any, 'We've got to find two new members so we can have a playoff.' It's easy to forget that if a couple of things go differently, we get two teams in, not none. We always knew somebody was going to be standing when the music stopped. Some of that is situational. I was proud of our ADs. We had a very businesslike session in New York and we talked a little bit about the tiebreaker, we talked about scheduling, we talked about nonconference schedules ... and we'll talk about it again."
"The question is a fair question: Do you want to be different from everybody else in two significant ways?" he said. "I'm sure there's going to be some disagreement in it. Our league, they love the co-champions because most of the time it was, our schools felt like they were chasing Texas and Oklahoma. If they had a chance to tie for the conference championship, they wanted to. Now it's a little different situation. That's going to be our ADs' call. It's not my call, it's clearly theirs. We'll talk about it and come to some closure."
Despite the Big 12's playoff snub, Bowlsby praised the overall system and the committee members for what he called "a near-impossible job." For all of the debate surrounding the Big 12's conference champion, Bowlsby said the one negative of the playoff was that it decreased the value of all league titles.
"The one downside I do think to the playoff is it has somewhat diminished the focus on conference championships insofar as they may play into who gets to go on and play in the four," Bowlsby said. "It was not as much about winning a Big 12 title as it was about a representative. You're playing in the SEC West and it really isn't about getting into championship game or winning the SEC, it's about [getting in the top four]. Time will tell if that trend continues. I'd have some sense of loss if that were the case, but I think generally speaking it's been a tremendous success."
To help beef up the league's nonconference schedules, Bowlsby said the Big 12 would discuss the possibility of mandating a Power 5 nonconference opponent like the SEC has done, beginning in 2016.
"The only way we would do that is if our ADs acted to do it," he said. "It isn't something I'm going to mandate, but it's something we'll talk about for sure, absolutely."
Baylor's nonconference schedule -- which included SMU, Northwestern State and Buffalo -- was called into question by committee chair Jeff Long, but Bowlsby said the nonconference schedule "is about trying to get your football team ready to play the conference season."
"The kind of spread offenses that some schools run -- Baylor is one that does it as well as anybody -- it's all about timing, and it's all about repetition and being able to get your team ready," Bowlsby said. "I'm sure Coach [Art] Briles feels like having a lighter nonconference schedule is the best way to prepare his team to play in the Big 12 regular season. Some prefer something in the middle, and we have some teams in our league that consistently play a really good schedule. It's not a matter of just refusing to play, it's about their belief in what it takes to get a team ready to compete for a championship."
Bowlsby said the Big 12 also needs to find out just how important a 13th game will be to a playoff résumé moving forward. When Ohio State was selected as the No. 4 team, Long made it clear that the Buckeyes' opportunity to pick up another win against a ranked opponent in a title game was a factor.
"One of the things we really have to do some soul-searching on and ask a few questions around: Is a 13-game portfolio more valuable than a 12-game portfolio?" he said. "There was some indication that the 13th game made a difference in this selection process. That was the first time we heard that. Everybody knew we weren't going to play a 13th game, so I need to go back and our ADs need to go back and ask questions around that to see how it's going to be dealt with in the future, because in the case of comparing Ohio State and Wisconsin and Baylor and Kansas State, Baylor was higher-ranked and played a higher-ranked team, and won convincingly and yet fell back. If it was really the 13th game, we need to know that. If we don't have a championship game and we also don't find some way to play a 13th game, then we know we're at a disadvantage."
While an eight-team playoff would've included the Big 12 this year, Bowlsby said it should remain a four-team format.
"I think four is the right number," he said. "If we delve any deeper, go to six or eight, I think you're playing games before Christmas and that's going to really change the postseason and I think probably in some ways diminish the regular season."
Big 12 officials will meet again on Feb. 6, when they will also discuss whom to nominate as Oliver Luck's replacement on the selection committee. Bowlsby reiterated that it will likely be a sitting athletic director.
"I've talked to most of our ADs," Bowlsby said. "The position really exists for a representative of the conference, so the suggestions that we're going to put somebody else on who's not an AD -- theoretically, I could put a president on or a football coach or somebody like that -- but I would be very surprised if it doesn't end up being one of our athletic directors."