Instead of splitting 10 teams into two divisions, the Big 12 Conference announced on Friday the top two teams in the overall standings will meet in the 2017 league championship game.
Big 12 presidents and athletic directors spent time discussing the merits of creating two five-team divisions. However, it was unclear which teams would be in which division and where the league would place Texas and Oklahoma.
“There are a number of advantages to matching our top two teams,” said Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby said in a statement. “Given our round-robin, nine-game scheduling model, it is expected the Big 12 champion will be uniquely positioned for College Football Playoff consideration.”
Bowlsby added that it’s his argument “there will be no path more difficult than our champion’s.”
One possible downside to this arrangement is that two teams could theoretically play each other on two consecutive weekends, if the schedule falls right.
Still, by having the top two teams play for the championship game, “it’s hard to imagine a stronger position for a conference champion,” Bowlsby said.
The league added a championship game to have the much-discussed “13th data point,” putting the Big 12 on par with the other four major conferences. In previous years, CFP officials have said that a 13th game helped teams from the SEC or Big Ten, for example.
It’s also thought a league championship would be worth an extra $3 million to each team from the television networks.
The site for the 2017 championship has not been announced, although it’s expected to come soon. The league asked prospective sites for a five-year commitment. Cowboys Stadium in Arlington is believed to be a leading contender.
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