MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

OSU

February 21, 2013

Big 12 not jumping at conference playoff opportunity, says commish

OKLAHOMA CITY   — The Big 12 wants the option to play a conference championship football game with only 10 members. That doesn’t mean it will.

Speaking at a function for Oklahoma State’s Spears School of Business, Commissioner Bob Bowlsby said it doesn’t make good business sense right now for the Big 12 to have a championship game.

“Take a look at the attendance on the conference championship games this year and take a look at the TV ratings,” Bowlsby said. “They aren’t the kind of things that are going to invite you to take that up as a new business proposition.”

Bowlsby said late last month the league will seek permission from the NCAA to be able to hold a title game with 10 teams. Current NCAA rules require leagues to have at least 12 members to hold a football title game.

Bowlsby said Wednesday that proposal is intended to deregulate how conferences are allowed to determine a champion.

“If that includes a playoff between two high-ranked teams, that’s fine,” Bowlsby said. “If it requires a playoff between the winners of two divisions, that’s fine. But it shouldn’t have to be two six-team divisions. It could be two five-team divisions. It just seems like an obvious place where deregulation makes a lot of sense.”

The Big 12 hasn’t had a title game the past two seasons. This past season, Kansas State and Oklahoma were co-champions, though K-State earned the league’s BCS bid by beating Oklahoma head-to-head to break the tie.

Bowlsby also addressed the topic of football scheduling. Wisconsin athletic director Barry Alvarez said last week that Big Ten schools had agreed to no longer schedule FCS teams in the future. Big 12 schools have made no such agreement, although Bowlsby said he’s discussed the issue of beefing up football (and basketball) schedules with league presidents and athletic directors.

With the new four-team playoff to decide the national championship coming in 2014, Bowlsby said it would behoove Big 12 schools to play stronger nonconference opponents.

“In the end, how you get seeded, whether you access the tournament, often relies on who you play in the nonconference,” Bowlsby said. “You don’t often have anything to say about who you play in the conference schedule, but you have everything to say about who play in your nonconference. If you’re the fifth-rated team and you’ve played nobody, there may be a sixth-rated team who played a representative schedule that gets bounced over the top of you.”

The Big 12 has discussed scheduling alliances with the Atlantic Coast Conference and Southeastern Conference other conferences, to help create more attractive and challenging games. Bowlsby said “that will allow us to ensure our TV partners of good matches and also give us a little more strength in the nonconference schedule.”

He said he expects there will be unbeaten teams left out of the four-team playoff “simply because there’s somebody with one loss that is deemed to be a better team.”

He said he plans to talk scheduling with the league’s football coaches soon.

Bowlsby also said the formation of the committee that will pick the four teams for the upcoming football playoff is progressing. He said it will be larger than the NCAA Division I basketball tournament committee, of which he was the chairman in 2004 and 2005. The committee could possibly even have former or current media members, he said.

“It will have a composition that includes people that are not on campuses or in conference offices,” he said. “There will be people with solid football backgrounds. How big it will be, it could be 16, it could be 18, it could be 24. We haven’t refined it to that point yet.

“We have begun working around the metrics with which we’ll arm the members of that committee. It will be a lot more, obviously, than just taking the six or eight polls that are available to them and regurgitating what those things have to say. We need to work hard on formulating tools that will allow us to differentiate one good team from another good team. . It’s a process that cries out for the best thinkers we can get.”

At a meeting April 23 in southern California, the site of the first championship game could be finalized and “we’ll know a lot more about the composition and rudiments of the committee,” he said. “I’d say that we’re right on the time frame.”

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