Kirk Bohls

American-Statesman Staff

Column

Bohls: A Big 12 championship game? No thanks. Who really needs a 13th data point, anyway?

Posted November 29th, 2018

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One piece of advice for the Big 12. And it’s got not a thing to do with Horns Down or Horns Up or Horns Sideways.

Here it is:

Dump the Big 12 championship game.

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That’s right. Get rid of it. Cancel it. Hit the delete button. Adios, mofo, as our former governor was fond of saying.

(But it won’t happen.)

That’d be hard to do since the league is locked in to this title game with a television contract for eight years and in Arlington for Saturday and the next three years.

“We’re contractually bound, but you can negotiate your way out of anything if you’re willing to pay them,” Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby told me this week.

But what’s the upside of playing this game?

A Texas fan holds up a sign during an NCAA college football game against Oklahoma at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas, Texas, on Saturday, Oct. 6, 2018. Texas defeated Oklahoma 48-45 to improve to 5-1. [NICK WAGNER/AMERICAN-STATESMAN]
Texas and OU will each make the same vague share as every other Big 12 team from Saturday’s game in their “blended” amount per the league’s media agreement. Chris Del Conte gets a chance to flash some new threads. Jerry Jones gets a sellout and massive exposure. Breckyn Hager may get a badly needed haircut.

The risk is so much greater.

This game can be potentially way more damaging to the Big 12’s best interests because a Longhorns win knocks the Sooners out of the College Football Playoff mix. With no title game this season, OU might already have locked up a CFB spot, assuming Georgia loses to Alabama on Saturday.

Bowlsby isn’t so sure.

“We were told a 13th data point (game) makes a difference,” he said. “If you’re undefeated like Notre Dame is, you probably don’t need a 13th data point because Notre Dame is presumed to be in (the CFP). But we think a win in this game would give us a lift to get in the CFP.”

It’s safe to assume that then-once beaten OU would have been in last year’s Final Four as well without beating TCU in the championship game because it had already beaten TCU. The Sooners, with Heisman Trophy winner Baker Mayfield, were the No. 3 slotted team in last season’s CFP but would have fallen out with a second loss on the year. Bowlsby agrees.

ABC analyst Todd Blackledge told our “On Second Thought” podcast that, if both OU and Ohio State win this weekend, OU “should get the nod and will get the nod over Ohio State (which clobbered Michigan) because last week was the first time they looked worthy of a playoff team all season.”

And since the CFP committee had OU ranked fifth, one spot ahead of Ohio State, on Tuesday, those panelists were not impressed enough by the margin over the Wolverines to vault the Buckeyes over the Sooners. You wouldn’t think beating a four-loss Northwestern on Saturday would change any minds either, especially since both OSU and OU would be conference champions.

Back in 2014 when TCU and Baylor were labeled co-champions, the lack of a 13th data point (a championship game) was held against the Big 12. It will not be held against an unbeaten Notre Dame this year. And I don’t think it would have been held against an 11-1 OU team with a three-point loss to its biggest rival at a neutral site.

So convene the poohbahs and ditch all future Big 12 championship games. They can penalize as much as they reward.

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