Big 12: How about a Big East alliance?
The search continues for a solution to a 10-team Big 12 football format. Even Bob Stoops, who has as much to lose from a conference championship game as any man in college football, said he will miss the Big 12 title game. “We kind of like the Big 12 championship game,” Stoops told our man John Helsley.
Stoops pointed out that his biggest beef with the title game was that every league didn’t play one. But now that the two major holdouts of a title game — Pac-10 and Big Ten — are poised to initiate a title game, the Big 12 could be backing off. Irony of ironies. “I’ve always said, ‘It’s too bad everyone doesn’t play one,’” Stoops said. “Now, everyone else is playing one and we’re not. So it’s kind of flipped.”
I’ve already trotted out Bill Snyder’s idea of two five-team divisions. And here’s another idea, which is even more radical.
How about a Big 12/Big East alliance, which basically would exist for the purpose of having their two champions meet in a championship game?
I know, it sounds wild. And it would run counter to NCAA rules and would need a waiver that would come under much more scrutiny than a simple waiver to allow a 10-team league to stage a championship game.
But I’ll bet the rest of the BCS leagues would support such an endeavor.
Think it through. If the Big Ten and Pac-10 join the ACC and the SEC in playing title games, only the Big 12 and the Big East would be without championship stages. Neither has enough teams (10 in the Big 12, eight in the Big East) to satisfy the rule.
But form an alliance that would actually exist only for the purpose of staging a championship game, and the powers-that-be might go for it.
I thought of this idea last week but wondered if it was too far-fetched. Then I got an email from a reader who suggested the same thing, and I knew I at least wasn’t standing alone.
Here’s how it could work, although certainly all kinds of ideas could be added.
* The two leagues could form some kind of scheduling alliance. OU plays Cincinnati this season, and Iowa State plays Connecticut next year. Those are the only Big 12/Big East matchups scheduled for the future.
But the leagues have played home-and-home series quite often this decade. Pitt-Nebraska. West Virginia-Colorado. South Florida-Kansas. UConn-Baylor.
* Petition the NCAA to allow for a championship game between the two aligned leagues. Sell it as some kind of competitive-necessity. The NCAA makes all kinds of waivers. Extra basketball games for events outside the continental U.S. Extra football games for teams that play at Hawaii.
* Figure out a way to share the revenue, which frankly would be the biggest problem. You would think ratings for Texas-Pitt or Oklahoma-West Virginia would be bigger than for Texas-Colorado or Oklahoma-Missouri, but the networks apparently have been awfully generous to the Big 12 already. This would require some serious and delicate negotiation.
* How to handle automatic-qualifying for a BCS bowl would be another sensitive matter. That’s where support from other conferences might end and protests from leagues like the Mountain West would intensify, unless the Mountain West can secure its own automatic slot. I think the Mountain West is going to get there, but just in case it doesn’t, this would be a divisive issue.
* The Big 12 would drive a hard bargain on location. Probably demand a 2-1 ratio for having the game at JerryWorld in Arlington. The Big East could counter with several new NFL venues to stage the game. The Redskins’ FedEx Field. Baltimore’s M&T Bank Stadium. Philadelphia’s Lincoln Financial Field. And maybe the best carrot of all; the New Meadowlands Stadium, which will be shared by the Giants and Jets when it opens this season.
A Big 12/Big East championship game played in the shadow of New York City? Are you kidding me? You can’t buy that kind of exposure.
The Big 12 would be back on the big stage of Championship Saturday, with an even bigger profile than it has with its current South Division coronation. OU or Texas has won six straight Big 12 titles, and only one game, UT’s 13-12 squeaker over Nebraska last December, has been closer than 14 points. Scores have been 42-3, 70-3, 38-17, 62-21.
Other conferences might support the petition, just in the hope of pinning a defeat on a BCS title game contender, be it OU, Texas or a Big East upstart like West Virginia and Cincinnati, which have come close in recent years to making the Big Bowl.
I don’t know if this idea has any legs or not. But again, it’s worth talking about in the new order of Big 12 and college football.
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