But Bowlsby likes the Sooners’ chances better with a Big 12 championship victory compared to when TCU and Baylor were co-champions in 2014. TCU and Baylor found themselves left out of the mix that season despite boasting strong resumes, including impressive wins in the season finale.
“We heard the message in ’14, despite having two good teams that had played good games on the last day of the season, we needed to do more,” Bowlsby said before the Big 12 championship game on Saturday. “So we did deep dive on data analysis and it came back telling us we’d have a better chance getting to the playoff if we played a championship game. We went about the process of trying to put that in place. You can never forecast exactly how these things are going to turn out, but it feels like a pretty good decision today.”
Not declaring a true champion in 2014 proved to be a bad decision by the conference, however, Bowlsby was just following what the conference’s athletics directors and coaches decided.
Premium content for only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
Instead of seeing TCU or Baylor advance to the CFP, Ohio State jumped each school. This happened even though TCU won its finale over Iowa State 55-3, and Baylor beat No. 9-ranked Kansas State 38-27.
But it’s hard to see that scenario unfolding this year. As stated, Oklahoma has a conference championship now.
And, fairly or not, it’s tougher to see the committee having one blueblood program such as Ohio State jump another blueblood program such as Oklahoma. When it came down to TCU and Baylor, the history and tradition may have played a part but Bowlsby refused to speculate on that aspect.
“I don’t know. I haven’t been in the room, I didn’t hear a whole lot about the discussion,” Bowlsby said. “The interesting thing about it was TCU played Iowa State to a lopsided game, but the other game was the highest-ranked game that was on Championship Saturday. No. 5 Baylor against No. 9 Kansas State, it was a great matchup.
“I got asked, why didn’t I just declare a champion? Why didn’t you use the head to head [with Baylor beating TCU] and declare a champion? The answer is our athletics directors and our football coaches had unanimously adopted co-champions. I did what they told me to do. The CFP even asked, are you going to declare a champion through a tiebreaker? And that wasn’t what we chose to do. Since that time, we’ve changed it.”
In doing so, the conference is now better positioned to land a team in the CFP such as a one-loss Oklahoma. Again, though, nothing it taking for granted.
Asked if he was comfortable if Oklahoma won the Big 12 title game that it’d be in the CFP, Bowlsby said: “No, I’m not. Human nature being what it is, I think the last thing you see makes a lot of difference. I don’t think it’s inconceivable that Ohio State could win big and they could jump [Oklahoma].
“I don’t think that’s as likely as it might’ve been before Tuesday because the talk about the strength of schedule. OU’s strength of schedule is going to do nothing but get stronger by this. Chances are if Ohio State beats Northwestern, Northwestern may fall out of the Top 25, so that would further weaken the strength of schedule.”