The Big 12’s downsizing to 10 teams in the aftermath of conference realignment left the conference without a conference championship game. Does that hurt the league from a perception standpoint? Hell if I know. (This suggests that it hasn’t made a dramatic difference in terms of what it takes to win the conference.)
If it is hurting the league, however, a legislative proposal written by the Big 12 and ACC to “deregulate” conference championships might mitigate that. I’ve written previously about how the Big 12 as currently structured could implement a championship game. What kind of impact would adding a title game have on the scheduling profile of the league champ?
For purposes of this exercise, assume that under the new NCAA guidelines, the Big 12 decides to pit its two highest-ranked teams in the new selection committee poll against each other in a championship game to close the season. Let’s take a look at how that would have changed the conference champ’s profile in the last three seasons, using the final BCS rankings as a proxy for the selection committee’s poll:
- In 2011, Oklahoma State would have played Kansas State.
- In 2012, Kansas State would have played Oklahoma.
- In 2013, Baylor would have played Oklahoma.
Of these hypothetical opponents, one ranked in the top 10 (2012 Oklahoma), one ranked in the top 25 (2013 Oklahoma) and one ranked in the top 50 (2011 Kansas State) in F/+. Add them to the champs’ schedules, and you get:
(For a review of my methodology, check out this post on scheduling profiles.)
How would this stack up to the other major conferences in the last three seasons? Here are the scheduling profiles of the ACC, Big Ten, Pac-12 and SEC since 2011:
Using this rubric, the SEC champ still appears to have the strongest scheduling profile. However, a championship game would have added some separation between the Big 12 and the ACC and Big Ten. Furthermore, the Big 12 and Pac-12 profiles look awfully close.
In other words, if the Big 12 instituted a conference title game going forward – and if the strength of the league as it is currently constituted held steady – it appears that winning the league would involve navigating a slate of games comparable to the Pac-12 champ. The new playoff selection committee may not agree, but that should at least give conference leadership something to chew on.