Big 12 expansion got everyone excited for awhile about more conference realignment. But when commissioner Bob Bowlsby announced earlier this month that the conference was moving forward with the 10 teams, it was like letting the air out of a balloon slowly.
Now, the conference is ready to announce it will start hosting a conference championship game beginning in 2017 pitting its No. 1 team against its No. 2 with no divisions.
"There are a number of advantages to matching our top two teams," said Bowlsby in a statement. "Given our round-robin, nine-game scheduling model, it is expected the Big 12 champion will be uniquely positioned for College Football Playoff consideration. I would argue there will be no path more difficult than our champion's, where it will have played every team in the conference, faced at least one autonomy conference non-conference opponent, and then plays in our championship game. The guaranteed No. 1 vs. No. 2 matchup will be a great game for our fans, and it's hard to imagine a stronger position for a conference champion."
So after teasing with the idea of adding more teams, the Big 12 has decided its 10 teams are good enough to determine a true champion and play a conference championship game after every team will have already faced one another. It will be interesting to see how the College Football Playoff selection committee values this addition in coming years.
The Big 12 staged a championship game from 1996-2010 between division winners. The new format calls for the top-two finishers in the 10-team league to play for the championship.
CBS Sports' Dennis Dodd went back over the previous five years when the Big 12 didn't have a championship game. Matching up the top two finishers from 2011-2015, a championship game would have had national championship implications at least three times.
2011: Oklahoma State (11-1) vs. Kansas State (10-2) Previous meeting: Oklahoma State 52, Kansas State 45, four overtimes. Nov. 5, 2011
Implications: That year Oklahoma State finished behind No. 2 Alabama for a BCS title game berth by .0086 of a point. Would an extra game and a win over K-State a difference? Probably? Absolutely?
2012: Kansas State (12-1) vs. Oklahoma (10-2). Previous meeting: Kansas State 24, Oklahoma 19, Sept. 22, 2012.
Implications: Neither team had a BCS shot with Alabama and Notre Dame undefeated headed into the BCS title game.
2013: Baylor (11-1) vs. Oklahoma (10-2). Previous meeting: Baylor 41, Oklahoma 12. Nov. 7, 2013.
Implications: Auburn and Florida State were on a collision course in the last BCS title game.
2014: Baylor (11-1) vs. TCU (11-1). Previous meeting: Baylor 61, TCU 58. Oct. 11, 2014.
Implications: It would have been delicious to discover what that 13th data point would have meant in the first CFP. Without it, Baylor finished ahead (fifth) of TCU (sixth) in the final CFP rankings.
2015: Oklahoma (11-1) vs. Oklahoma State (11-2). Previous meeting: A week earlier if there had been a Big 12 champ game last year! Oklahoma 58, Oklahoma State 23. Nov. 28, 2015.
Implications: The Cowboys would have loved nothing more than to knock the Sooners out of the playoff. Not sure how the Big 12 gets around back-to-back games between contenders going forward in any given year.