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Big 12 football: Parity finally arrives in the conference

Parity is what has made the Southeastern Conference such a runaway mine train, with all the schools pushing each other. It should help the Big 12 enhance its chances of winning once one of its teams gets to the Big Bowl.
by Berry Tramel Published: July 28, 2012
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photo - COLLEGE FOOTBALL / CELEBRATION: Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy celebrates after winning the Fiesta Bowl between the Oklahoma State University Cowboys (OSU) and the Stanford Cardinals at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Ariz., Monday, Jan. 2, 2012. Photo by Bryan Terry, The Oklahoman
COLLEGE FOOTBALL / CELEBRATION: Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy celebrates after winning the Fiesta Bowl between the Oklahoma State University Cowboys (OSU) and the Stanford Cardinals at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Ariz., Monday, Jan. 2, 2012. Photo by Bryan Terry, The Oklahoman

The last time the Big 12 had three champs in a three-year span was 2001-03 (Colorado, OU, Kansas State, courtesy of KSU's huge upset of the Sooners in the '03 title game). The best stretch of parity came from 1998-01, when four schools won the four titles (A&M, Nebraska, OU, Colorado).

That, of course, came during the transfer of power from the North Division to the South Division. It never transferred back, and now we no longer have divisions.

But we do have parity. We even have a new member, West Virginia, that looks capable of winning the 2012 title.

The Mountaineers have been told all about the Sooners and Longhorns. But West Virginia might be interested to look at the cumulative conference records the last three seasons.

OSU 20-5, Nebraska 12-4, OU 17-8, Missouri 15-10, K-State 14-11, Texas 14-11, A&M 13-12, Baylor 11-14, Texas Tech 10-15, Iowa State 9-16, Colorado 4-12, Kansas 2-23.

Compare that to 2003 through 2008. In those six years, OU went 42-6 and Texas was 40-8.

In the last six seasons, only Texas 2009 has gone unbeaten in Big 12 play.

“It's almost impossible to go undefeated,” Briles said.

You could argue that's a bad thing, that parity has kept Big 12 teams from reaching the national title game. I don't necessarily believe that; OU made it in 2008, Texas in 2009 and OSU would have made it last season had the Cowboys won at eighth-place Iowa State late in the season, which was more the result of cosmic upset than conference parity.

But I would argue that parity enhances the Big 12's hope of winning once one of its teams reaches the Big Bowl. That's what has made the SEC such a January terror. The SEC has won six straight national titles; only two of those six went unbeaten in the SEC, and 2007 LSU lost twice. SEC parity sharpens its best teams.

No reason the Big 12's newfound parity can't do the same.

Berry Tramel: Berry can be reached at (405) 760-8080 or at btramel@opubco.com. He can be heard Monday through Friday from 4:40-5:20 p.m. on The Sports Animal radio network, including FM-98.1. You can also view his personality page at newsok.com/berrytramel.

by Berry Tramel
Columnist
Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The Oklahoman,...
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