TCU’s timing is simply terrible.
TCU has the team, and more importantly the schedule, set up for a nice run to win the Big 12 title. The only hitch is that winning this league this year is like winning this Presidential election – no one really wants them in the big room.
The only difference is unlike the Presidential election, where the winner is assured access to the highest spot in the land, the Big 12 champion will have no such guarantees.
Whatever school does win the Big 12 this season can expect their phone to remain silent when the BCS Plus 2 announces its final four playoff teams.
The league embarrassed itself in a handful of crucial non-conference games that has reduced the standing the Big 12 to just slightly ahead of the WAC. For the second time in three years, the Big 12 will not send a team to the playoffs, which will only help solidify this league as the fifth in the Power 5 that somehow needs the University of Houston to make it a more viable conference.
The first time this happened was 2014 when the co-champions of the Big 12 - TCU and Baylor - were narrowly left out of the playoffs.
Save for the SEC, all conferences go through down cycles. The Big 10 is a power again while the Big 12 is awash in ish. The Big 12’s down cycle happens to be timed with the advent of the playoffs.
Nonetheless, beginning with Oklahoma this week, TCU is set up nearly the exact same was as ‘14.
“With all the injuries we’ve had it’s a little bit different,” TCU head coach Gary Patterson said Monday. “We were healthy when that all came about.”
TCU hosted then No. 4 Oklahoma on Oct. 4, 2014 and upset the Sooners 37-33. TCU followed that with a close (infamous) loss at Baylor the next week, and then ran the table only to be barely left out of the playoffs. A strong case could be made that TCU or Baylor should have been included.
The Frogs blew out Ole Miss in the Peach Bowl and finished the season No. 3 in the nation, but the lack of a playoff invite was a slap.
At this point, we should prepare that the winner of the Big 12 will face a similar fate, which very well could be TCU.
There is no good way to spin this: TCU lost to Arkansas; Oklahoma lost to Ohio State and Houston; Texas lost to Cal; Texas Tech lost to Arizona State; Oklahoma State lost at home to Central Michigan; Kansas State lost to Stanford.
“We’ve got two undefeated teams in the Big 12,” GP said of No. 13 Baylor and unranked West Virginia.
And if Baylor somehow remains undefeated it may have a shot at the fringe of No. 4. But Baylor defeated Junk, Crap and Garbage in the non-conference, which will once again damage its attempt at national recognition. Wins over Rice, SMU and Northwestern State don’t do much.
TCU’s overtime home loss against Arkansas was better than a Baylor win versus Who? The same can be said for Texas’ late loss at California, and OU’s losses to Houston and Ohio State.
“I don’t address it with my team. What it’s supposed to be is you play yourself in,” GP said. “If nobody from the Big 12 gets in, it’s because there are four other teams that are better. It doesn’t matter which conference is better.”
He’s right, but after the first two years of the College Football Playoff we know the sport’s postseason remains a perception game. And the perception of the Big 12, including its champion, just won’t be good enough for a final four spot.