GRAPEVINE, Texas (AP) — Before Big 12 fans demand the conference invite Boise State and Cincinnati and immediately implement a conference championship game, consider this: If Florida State had lost to Georgia Tech in the Atlantic Coast Conference championship game on Saturday, Baylor would be in the playoff and not playing that tough 13th game would have worked out great.
Instead, Florida State held on for its seventh one-score victory of the season, Ohio State played it best game of the season it its Big Ten title game appearance, and Baylor and Big 12 co-champion TCU were left out of the first College Football Playoff.
Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby talked Sunday about how the playoff selection committee’s treatment of the Big 12’s best would certainly lead to discussions within the conference about bringing back its title game, and maybe even rekindle some expansion talk.
And after he was done, Bowlsby also said the conference would not be inclined to do anything rash and overreact to Year 1 of the College Football Playoff.
“Conference expansion is a multifaceted decision and goes beyond whether you have a postseason football championship,” Bowlsby said.
Expansion is first-and-foremost about revenue. Does a school add enough to the potential revenue the conference can generate to make it worth splitting those revenues with another member? The Big 12 schools are pretty happy these days divvying up the pot 10 ways. The conference distributed $212 million to its members after the 2013-14 season.
So while expansion might come to the Big 12 someday, it is highly unlikely one bad playoff draw will be what makes it happen.
Bowlsby acknowledged that playing a title game with 10 teams could be awkward. Even if the NCAA allows it to happen, the Big 12 might not do it.
Before the Big 12’s disappointing weekend, Bowlsby was asked about whether not having that conference title game could hurt his contenders and said this: “I think the fact of the matter is there will be some years, like this one, where we feel just great about where we are. And there will be other years where we’ll say ‘Gee, we wish we had one more game to play because we might be able to differentiate ourselves,” Bowlsby said.
This year turned out to be the latter.
The playoff adds another layer of travel to a neutral site for fans of the two teams that advance from the semifinals on New Year’s Day in New Orleans (No. 1 Alabama vs. No. 4 Ohio State) and Pasadena, California, (No. 2 Oregon vs. No. 3 Florida State).
It will be interesting to see how — if at all — that affects attendance for the semis and the championship game on Jan. 12 at AT&T Stadium in North Texas.
Ohio State coach Urban Meyer was concerned about one particular group of fans getting to the games.
“What are we going to do with our players’ families? People are worried about the playoff, and who’s going to play who. But I just had a team meeting. How’s that mom and dad, or mom and uncle, going to go see their kid play? They should. My kids are going to get on a bus, I imagine for free, and go to the game. I’m really concerned about that. And I’m not sure they’ve addressed that,” Meyer said.
Among the many items schools in Big Five conferences like Ohio State’s Big Ten have discussed is allowing schools to pay for family members of players to go to postseason games.
BETTER THAN THE BCS
The biggest problem with the Bowl Championship Series, aside from only allowing two teams to the play for the national championship, was too often it created uninteresting matchups in the other big bowl games.
The College Football Playoff takes the matchmaking away from bowl organizers and eliminates some the rules that required bowls to take certain teams and restricted them for taking others.
“The committee leaned heavily on matchups, getting the highest-ranked teams we had against each other,” committee chairman Jeff Long said.
The result is some compelling matchups outside the semifinals, such as TCU and Mississippi in the Peach Bowl in Atlanta, and Michigan State and Baylor in the Cotton Bowl. The other two games are Mississippi State and Georgia Tech in the Orange Bowl and Arizona and Boise State in the Fiesta Bowl.
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