During his annual state of the conference address on Monday, Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby made a statement that had eyes rolling from Berkeley to Birmingham.
According to Bowlsby, money had nothing to do with the Big 12's decision to revive its conference championship game. Instead, the conference brought the game back to help bolster its members’ chances of reaching the College Football Playoff.
Funny enough, I actually believe him.
Now, let's be clear, it's always about money. Without the scratch, the Big 12 championship game would remain dead and buried in DeLoss Dodds’ backyard.
Even so, the Big 12 doesn't do anything without Oklahoma and Texas signing off. The shot callers knew they were leaving money on the table by not staging the game for six years. They still didn’t want it then.
So what really changed their minds?
Although three years feels like a pretty limited sample set, the evidence so far suggests that staging a conference championship game typically should help Big 12 teams make a more compelling case for playoff inclusion. (I discussed why with Dave Bartoo of CFB Matrix back in December – it boils down to manufacturing a chance to add another quality win to a team’s body of work, damn the consequences.) It would seem as though that gave the conference enough ammo to re-institute the championship.
Of course, none of that changes the fact that it’s pointless to hold a title game in a conference with round-robin scheduling. Whereas other conferences have championship games to help address the realities of unbalanced scheduling, everyone plays everyone during the Big 12 season. That makes a conference title game redundant.
This is college football’s new world order: The sport is being built around serving the playoff. It may not seem like a big deal right now, but the trend will eventually have much broader implications down the line. I don’t think they will be positive for the sport, but who am I to stand in the way of progress.