Although the decision has been made, Big 12 football coaches competing this weekend were equally divided Monday on the choice by league administrators in how to determine participants for next year’s conference championship game when it resumes in Arlington.
Three coaches favored the plan approved by league presidents and announced Nov. 18 to rematch the top two teams from the league standings when next year’s title game is played in AT&T Stadium. Three coaches said the league should have divided into five-team divisions and allowed the top finisher in each division to meet for the 2017 title.
The topic surfaced because, for a second consecutive season, the Big 12 title will be settled Saturday in a winner-take-all meeting to cap the regular season between No. 7 Oklahoma (9-2, 8-0 in Big 12) and No. 11 Oklahoma State (9-2, 7-1). If the Big 12’s plan for the 2017 championship game were currently in place, OU and OSU would play a regular-season game Saturday followed by a championship game between the teams the following week.
The same immediate rematch scenario would have unfolded last season. That is the reason Oklahoma State’s Mike Gundy, Kansas State’s Bill Snyder and West Virginia’s Dana Holgorsen made it clear Monday that league presidents, in their estimation, whiffed by not putting members of the 10-team league into five-team divisions next season.
“I voted for divisions,” Gundy said during Monday’s conference call with league coaches. “I would have liked to see us go to divisions to eliminate the back-to-back, regular-season game and a Big 12 championship game.”
Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops cited a simple solution, at least in regard to the Bedlam series between OU and OSU.
“Maybe the Big 12 looks at the timing of this game moving forward,” Stoops said, noting that the 2017 league schedule has yet to be released.
TCU coach Gary Patterson joined Stoops and Baylor’s Jim Grobe in supporting a rematch between the league’s top two teams to maximize the chance of putting a team in the College Football Playoff.
“The reason to have it is to get a team into the national playoffs,” Patterson said of a championship game in a league that already plays a round-robin football schedule. “There’s no reason to do it, otherwise.”