Big 12 May Have Championship Game With 10 Teams, No DivisionsBy Russell Westerholm
Despite its name, the Big 12 conference did not want to have to add two football programs in order to have the option of adding a championship game.
According to The Associated Press, the NCAA's Division I Council passed a new rule Wednesday that no longer requires football conferences to have 12 teams and two divisions in order to have a title game.
The Big 12 has explored the possibility of implementing a championship game since the conclusion of the first College Football Playoff, when its co-champions were both left out of the four-team tournament. With two years now in the books, the CFP has rewarded teams that win their conference championships but the playoff is designed to exclude one Power 5 conference champion.
The Division I Council approved the rule change Wednesday morning at the annual NCAA Convention with a 7-2 vote. The Atlantic Coast and American Athletic conferences voted against the proposal, ESPN reported, while the Pac-12 stated its support while not voting.
Other coaches and administrators at Power 5 programs have stated they wanted to see the Big 12 add two teams and form two divisions in order to have all the five conference play by the same rules. Regardless, the Big 12 maintained it wanted to establish a title game on its own terms or not at all.
The Big 12 could have a championship game as soon as this season, but ESPN learned that is unlikely to happen. Regardless, the Big 12 would have good reason to put a title game in place, as the conference estimated it would be worth up to $30 million in TV contracts.
Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby's statement:
"It is too early to speculate on the impact this will have with our member institutions regarding a football championship game.
"I appreciate that what was acted upon today takes into account our unique 10-team, full round-robin scheduling model. However, this vote does not automatically mean the Big 12 will implement a football championship game. Our membership will continue to analyze its pros and cons, as we now know the requirements should we decide to go down that path."
Division I Council vice chair and University of Richmond Athletic Director Keith Gill's statement:
"I think it's important to note that where we have data available for both student-athletes and students generally, student-athletes are not that much different than their peers in the student body. These similarities are significant as Division I considers appropriate policy changes to improve the experiences of our student-athletes."