When the Big 12 splintered and became a 10-team conference, one of its marketing claims was “ONE TRUE CHAMPION.” Along with other things like, all the teams are in one time zone. Then the league added West Virginia, which for several years now has been in the Eastern Time Zone, which is only fitting since Morgantown is east of, you know, Cleveland. And then in 2012, Kansas State and OU tied for first place, and the league gave the Sooners a trophy, even though they lost head-to-head to KSU and didn’t make the BCS.
Well, in 2013, we’re at least back to one champion. And it’s Baylor. The Bears won the Big 12, courtesy of OU’s 33-24 upset of OSU and Baylor’s 30-10 rout of Texas. Commissioner Bob Bowlsby flew to Stillwater on Saturday morning, ready to make a trophy presentation to the Cowboys that never came to pass, and then flew to Waco, arriving before game’s end, so that he could hand a trophy to the Baylor-Texas winner. I have no idea what becomes of the surplus trophy. Can you re-engrave hardware? Someone surely knows.
Anyway, the beauty of the round robin schedule means the rankings speak for themselves, except in the case of three-way (or more) ties. Which by the way. Remember that TCU-Baylor shootout a week ago, won by Baylor 41-38? Had the Frogs won that game, and then Saturday’s events gone the same way, we would have had a four-way tie for the Big 12 championship. Baylor, OU, OSU and Texas all at 7-2. We could have gone from ONE TRUE CHAMPION to Big 12: Where Everyone Gets a Trophy. By the way, OSU would have won the tiebreaker in a four-way tie and been headed to the Fiesta Bowl, even though it probably would have been ranked behind 11-1 Baylor and 10-2 OU. It’s a crazy world.
Let’s get to the final rankings, complete with the preseason rankings:
1. Baylor (8-1, 11-1): The Bears were picked fifth by the media and by me. So we can all say we missed it by that much. Provided that that much is a mile.
2. OU (7-2, 10-2): The Sooners were picked second by the media and third by me. They finished in a three-way tie for second. Sometimes I know what I’m doing.
3. OSU (7-2, 10-2): The Cowboys were picked first by the media and by me. And the Cowboys came oh so close. Bullet was wearing horseshoes on Saturday, but we weren’t playing horseshoes.
4. Texas (7-2, 8-4): The ‘Horns were picked fourth by the media and by me. But in the name of full disclosure, Texas was better than we thought it was.
5. Kansas State (5-4, 7-5): The Wildcats were picked sixth by the media and by me. We got close.
6. Texas Tech (4-5, 7-5): The Red Raiders were picked seventh by the media, eighth by me. But I’m declaring victory. Tech finished sixth only because the rest of the league was so bad. A five-game losing streak to end the season showed what Tech really was.
7. TCU (2-7, 4-8): The Horned Frogs were picked third by the media and second by me. Uh-oh. We blew it. But by season’s end, TCU was much better. I remain optimistic about the Frogs’ future.
8. Iowa State (2-7, 3-9): The Cyclones were picked ninth by the media and seventh by me. I was a little high on the Cyclones.
9. West Virginia (2-7, 4-8): The Mountaineers were picked eighth by the media and ninth by me. I guess I come out looking good on this one, but give me no credit. I had no clue West Virginia would be this bad.
10. Kansas (1-8, 3-9): Everybody picks KU last. But you know what? I saw a little progress. I’m not totally down on the Charlie Weis regime.