Stick a bunch of smart, highly-paid people in a room for two days and ask them to figure out a simple issue and what do you get? A complicated solution, that’s what.
Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby presented new tiebreaker procedures Wednesday during his conference’s spring meetings in Phoenix and, barring some extremely rare circumstances, never again will he suffer the indignity of handing trophies to two separate teams while his league touts itself as the land of One True Champion.
The conference approved new tiebreaker procedures – among four choices, Bowlsby noted – to determine its champion at its spring meetings in Phoenix Wednesday, seen below via ESPN’s Max Olson:
First, a simple tie between two teams will now be broken via head-to-head. The simplest tiebreaker on the books. The Big 12 had this in place to determine its College Football Playoff Access (Sugar, except that was a semifinal game so the champion had to play in the Cotton Bowl…actually, that’s another discussion for another day) Bowl representative a year ago, but not its designated champion. So here we are.
As Mike Finger of the San Antonio Express-News points out, the conference actually mixed up its own wording on point No. 1. In real-world terms, let’s assume TCU, Baylor and Oklahoma each finish the 2015 regular atop the standings with identical records. The ties would be broken as such:
1. If, for the sake of the hypothetical, the trio goes 7-2, with Oklahoma losing to both TCU and Baylor while the Bears and Frogs’ second losses come outside the trifecta, the Sooners would be eliminated and the Baylor-TCU winner would claim the crown. Or, in simpler terms, if Baylor again goes 8-1 while beating the tops of the league while losing only to a middle-of-the-pack team, the Bears will win the conference no matter how anyone else finishes.
2. If that does not work, the league will then examine each club’s record against the fourth, fifth, sixth, etc., best teams. Once one team is eliminated, head-to-head among the two remaining teams will determine the champion. In this scenario, you’re better off losing to, say, Kansas or Iowa State than Oklahoma State or Kansas State.
3. If three teams tie for fourth place, the league will examine the TCU-Baylor-Oklahoma troika’s respective records against the three teams tied for fourth.
4. If none of those tiebreaker procedures work, or if the top three teams lose only to each other – a 2008 redux – the conference would then compare the clubs’ comparative scores.
5. A draw in the conference office. How is this draw conducted? Are we drawing straws? And who is drawing those straws?
Once again, the Big 12 leaves us with more questions than answers.