The Big 12 needs a new slogan.
Sure, “One True Champion” has a nice ring to it, but it is both misleading and inaccurate.
On Monday, Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby admitted the slogan is more of a reference to the conference’s round-robin scheduling “method” than actually crowning a true champion.
“I think ‘One True Champion’ is more about everyone playing everyone,” Bowlsby said during a media teleconference, “so that there is never a situation where your champion can be looked at and it’s said, ‘Gee, they may not have gotten there if they had to play everyone in the league.’ ... We believe playing everyone every year is the right way to decide a champion, even if it ends up in a tie.”
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There is logic in those words. If Georgia Tech upsets Florida State in the ACC championship game or Missouri upends Alabama in the SEC championship game, you will be hard-pressed to find anyone that thinks they are truly the best teams in their leagues. But they would be considered outright champions.
That’s more than you may be able to say about any Big 12 team after the dust settles on Saturday.
If No. 4 TCU defeats struggling Iowa State in its final game, the Horned Frogs will share the conference championship with the winner of No. 5 Baylor and No. 9 Kansas State. Head-to-head tiebreakers would favor Baylor over TCU and TCU over K-State, but the league will hand out two trophies and honor two champions. The Big 12 takes shared championships so seriously that Bowlsby said the league will identify both as champions to the playoff selection committee.
Co-champions are nearly upon us.
There is only one scenario in which a tiebreaker would be used to crown a lone champion: To decide which team represents the Big 12 in its tie-in with the Sugar Bowl. But that doesn’t apply this year, because the Sugar Bowl is part of the playoff semifinals.
Bowlsby said coaches voted to award co-championships instead of using tiebreakers to crown a lone champion, but the three coaches still in the title race seem split on the matter.
“I don’t have any particular opinion on it,” K-State coach Bill Snyder said. “It is fine.”
“I just follow the bylaws of the conference,” Baylor coach Art Briles said.
“It probably depends on what side of the table you are sitting on,” TCU coach Gary Patterson said. “The one thing I will say about it is: A loss is a loss whether it is head-to-head or otherwise. A loss is a loss. So we all sit in the same boat. In different conferences we have shared conference championships before and I didn’t think any less of it because we shared it. You are still the conference champ.”
Still, if Baylor and TCU share a title, many will recognize the Bears as champions because of their thrilling victory over TCU. If K-State and TCU share the crown, many will view the Horned Frogs higher because of their dominating win over K-State.
One true champion? You decide. Unlike the slogan suggests, there is plenty of room for interpretation.
Baylor quarterback Bryce Petty suffered a concussion against Texas Tech over the weekend, but it sounds like he will be on the field when the Bears take on K-State in Waco, Texas.
“Right now,” Briles said, “we are feeling like he will be ready to go on Saturday."
▪ K-State kicker Matthew McCrane was named Big 12 special teams player of the week on Monday. He received the honor after making two field goals against Kansas.
▪ In basketball, Kansas junior Perry Ellis was player of the week after averaging 18.8 points and 7.5 rebounds in the Orlando Classic, won by the Jayhawks.
Football power rankings
1. TCU (10-1, 7-1 Big 12): With one more win, TCU could be on its way to college football’s first playoff.
2. Baylor (10-1, 7-1): Tiebreakers will favor Baylor in any co-championship scenario.
3. Kansas State (9-2, 7-1): Wildcats haven’t won in Waco since 2002.
4. Oklahoma (8-3, 5-3): Beating Oklahoma State and winning a bowl would salvage the season.
5. Texas (6-6, 5-4): Improving team still not up to TCU standards.
6. West Virginia (7-5, 5-4): Mountaineers had a nice turnaround this season.
7. Oklahoma State (5-6, 3-5): Win Bedlam, go to a bowl game.
8. Texas Tech (4-8, 2-7): Rough season for Kliff Kingsbury.
9. Kansas (3-9, 1-8): Who will be the next coach?
10. Iowa State (2-9, 0-8): Paul Rhoads could soon be on the hot seat, if he isn’t already.