“I beg your pardon,
But hello? Darlin’?
This is me, you’re talking to!
Sit down and tell me about it!
And you don’t have to shout it at me –
Tell me what you really wanna do!
Don’t give me no alibis!
Don’t want your stories, trying to justify;
Don’t want no alibis!
Just another reason, for another lie …”
For the third time in six years, my alma mater has (in theory) been screwed out of a shot at winning the national championship.
In 2009, an undefeated TCU team came within one second – literally – of playing Alabama in the Rose Bowl for the national title. Unfortunately, the officials put that second back on the clock in the Big XII Title Game (oh, the f*cking irony, given today), and Texas drilled a 44 yarder, to beat Nebraska 13-12 as time expired for a second time.
In 2010, an undefeated TCU team needed Alabama to beat Auburn, to be in position to reach the Fiesta Bowl and face Oregon for the national title. Alabama led 24-0. They lost 28-27.
And now, in 2014, the third ranked Horned Frogs, needing merely to be amongst the top four, went out on Saturday and delivered the second best effort of the day, a 55-3 spanking of Iowa State that should lead to mass firings in Ames. (Even I have to concede, what Ohio State did last night, was more impressive, than what TCU did yesterday afternoon.)
Somehow, winning by fifty two points, dropped the Horned Frogs to sixth, behind another pathetic Florida State performance (needing to handle an onside kick to beat a mediocre Georgia Tech squad), and an Alabama performance that was underwhelming at best (that game was 21-13 with twenty minutes to play, before the Tide pulled away).
I am not here to rip the Selection Committee, for leaving the Big XII out of the inaugural college football playoff.
If anything, as much as today hurts, I’m here to praise them.
Because Big XII? Pull your heads out of your collective asses.
Your lack of a true champion?
Possibly just cost you a national championship.
There are five power conferences in the FBS world – the ACC, the SEC, the Pac 12, the B1G Ten (plus four), and the Big XII (minus two).
The minus two, is why neither TCU nor Baylor made the inaugural playoff … and why the Big XII is screwed from here to eternity, at this point. Because that minus two ensures the Big XII cannot stage a conference championship game.
Look it, I love the round robin style of scheduling probably more than the next guy. Every team plays every other team in the conference, regardless of sport – and in hoops, a true home-and-home schedule is really cool to watch unfold over those magical eight weeks that give us “Big Monday”.
But sometimes? When you’re wrong? You have to own your failure, own your mistake, admit you f*cked up, and adapt to reality.
The Big XII f*cked up, by not staying at twelve teams, after the defections of Texas A&M, Nebraska, Missouri, and Colorado (while adding West Virginia and TCU). They should have added two more – and I’d argue the two they should have added were Louisville and BYU.
That mistake – clinging to an ideal that is no longer relevant, of "one true champion" by having every team play everyone else – has just cost the Big XII millions of dollars, literally. They have literally just whizzed away millions of dollars, by being the only power conference not in the national playoff. Sure, they will have at least two teams in the Big Six bowls (TCU is in the Peach; Baylor is in the Cotton … and KSU in the Alamo isn’t anything to sneer at.)
But they won’t get a spot, in the two bowls that ultimately count this year -- the Rose, and the Sugar.
All because of one stupid ass decision, to not stay true, to the conference name.
Ten, instead of twelve.
So let’s acknowledge the obvious up front: the Big XII has a very limited roster of squads, to pick who they’re going to poach from.
No SEC school is leaving that conference – none has since Georgia Tech fifty years ago. (And in yet another ironic moment, had Georgia Tech scored three more points last night, at least Baylor makes the inaugural playoff, providing yet another Montreal Screw Job to the alma mater.)
No Pac 12 squad is leaving – if anything, the Pac 12 will be the first to go to sixteen. They’re not shrinking.
And why would any B1G Ten (plus four) institution look to move – if you believe the critics, they have the best men’s basketball conference in the nation*, and they’ve got enough rock solid middle-of-the-road football squads to be far more marketable than the Big XII at this point.
The ACC? Maybe … if only because you have the defending national champions, who haven’t lost in over seven hundred days, barely squeaking into the inaugural playoff. But like the B1G Ten, the ACC is loaded in hoops, has enough middle-of-the-pack football teams to be marketable, and at least has a region of the country they own (the East Coast).
So if you’re Bob Bowlsby, you’re looking at independents, the American, and maybe the Mountain West. As Rick Pitino would note, “there’s no Louisville walking through that door”.
But if you’re Bob Bowlsby, you should be encouraged. There are two schools out there who would at least be receptive to a sales pitch to join the Big XII – and both immediately enhance the conference, and not just by ensuring the league can stage a football championship game.
Adding these two schools? Expands the Big XII’s footprint west … and east. It adds two schools that have well-established programs in all three sports that truly matter for revenue purposes (football, and men’s and women’s hoops). In fact, it’s hoops, that should drive the first invite to the party.
God, I love the irony -- selling a p*ssed off football audience on expansion ... by emphasizing basketball, as the reason for doing it.
(*: I hate B1G Ten basketball with a passion. If I wanted to watch a 52-51 brickfest, I'd go to my nephew's game every Saturday at the church rec league.)
Because if I’m Bob Bowlsby?
I’m on the phone to Kevin Ollie, I’m on the phone to Geno Auriemma, I’m on the phone to whoever the hell UConn’s AD is, and I’m inviting the University of Connecticut, to join the Big XII, effective ASAFP.
Emphasis on the f.
What you add? Two world-class hoops programs – more than that, your two defending national champions, for God’s sake. An instant awesome (or is that shaw-some?) rivalry between two of the elites of the sport – KU/UConn for the men, UConn/Baylor for the women. You bring in the long-standing rivalries UConn has with the old Big East, and you bring in two programs in hoops, that their worst season, is what, a NIT berth? I mean, does anyone really believe UConn will miss the tournament more than one year in a row?
(To put this in perspective? Duke has missed the tournament once in thirty years – the year Coach K was out. KU has missed the tourney once in thirty years – they were on probation. UConn has missed four of the last twenty five years … and has four championships, in the last twenty five years. And their women’s team? Good God. If they lose a game, it’s a failed season. The odds of them not being a major factor, are slim and none. To say nothing of what having UConn in the Big XII, might mean to attracting more NCAA regionals and women’s Final Four’s to Kansas City might mean.)
You also add a football program that was in a BCS bowl less than four years ago (and that, with quality competition, could once again rise up and be a factor). You gain a footprint in the nation’s media hub – UConn gives you immediate viable access to every New York sports report. To say nothing of Philly, the District, and Boston.
Or to put it another way – the B1G Ten (plus four) invited Rutgers to join, to get that access. Who would you rather have, Rutgers or UConn?
UConn is, simply put, the single most attractive property available for purchase, in the NCAA D1 portfolio. They're Park Place, to Notre Dame's unavailable Boardwalk.
The Big XII has to pay the price, to bring them in.
The other school to poach?
That’s not quite as clear.
Me? I’d go for BYU. You gain a national following, a rock solid football program that won’t disgrace itself on the field, a solid men’s hoops program that routinely makes the postseason, and if anything, that’s its biggest selling point to the KU and UT’s of the world – BYU is just good enough to consistently lose to you by five or less on the hardwood. They’re another Iowa State, another Oklahoma, in basketball. They won’t embarrass you, but rather they enhance the resume, they strengthen the RPI, while never really threaten you, for top dog status.
And football is the same way. BYU will upset you occasionally – they pounded UT in Arlington this year (and beat OU in Arlington a few years ago). But they’re an eight, nine win ceiling program.
More importantly, you add UConn and BYU? You get to twelve. You get your conference title game. You make the South happy (by giving them a guaranteed money-maker every first Saturday in December in JerryWorld). And you make the North happy (by giving them a guaranteed money maker every second weekend in March, at the Sprint Centre).
And you prevent utter f*cking catastrophes, like today was, where because you don’t have an undisputed squad to choose from?
Neither gets chosen.
If BYU isn’t who you target for your second? Then take a swing at Memphis. They won the American this year, they’re a beast in men’s hoops, and they give you a footprint in the southeast (much as UConn gives you one in the northeast). Take a swipe at Cincinnati – they give you a decent middle-of-the-road program in the two primary revenue-generating sports, and give West Virginia a closer built-in rival.
Or take a crack at a ACC squad. Florida State can't be thrilled that winning twenty nine straight games, and being a defending champion, made them sweat out today. You can do worse than backing up a case of Coca Cola to the Dean Dome, and seeing if Roy will crack one open. You can do far worse than seeing if Syracuse is truly happy at being the fourth fiddle in the ACC for hoops, and an afterthought on the gridiron.
But for God’s sake, take a swipe at SOMEBODY.
Because as long as the Big XII (minus two) remains minus two?
Today is going to happen. Every damned year. From here to eternity.