With the college football playoff era on the horizon, the conversation about conference championship games became a hot topic of discussion during media days for two of the sport's major conferences on Monday.
The Big 12, unlike the SEC, ACC, Big 10 and Pac-12, doesn't have a conference championship game; it dropped the title game when the league went down to 10 teams following the 2010 season.
"I like our path to the championship. The fact that we play everybody in our league is a nuance that is not going to be lost on the selection committee," Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby told the media during his opening address at the league's media day. In the Big 12, which has been touting its "One True Champion" mantra, each team plays nine league games, facing everyone else in the conference during the regular season.
"We always are going to get to the point of a true champion. That's the other thing about playing nine games is you're always going to have a head to head; you're not going to have two teams with the same record that didn't play each other. That part is self-resolvable."
During the ACC media day on Monday, Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher called the Big 12's lack of a conference title game "ridiculous." When discussing the possibility of the playoff expanding to eight teams in the future, he suggested conferences with a league title game are already participating in an additional playoff game.
"I think every conference should have to have one," Fisher told print media during a breakout session. "Not everyone plays the same number of games and does the same thing. I think it's ridiculous."
Baylor coach Art Briles defended the Big 12 when he heard about Fisher's comments.
"Don't come down here to Texas and try to tell me how to do mine," Briles said, according to ESPN. "Jimbo Fisher needs to worry about the ACC. That's what he needs to worry about.
"I'm not telling him how to do their business."
The Big 12 and ACC have both petitioned for the NCAA to deregulate the rules governing conference championship games, particularly that a conference must have two divisions with at least six teams in each.
"In our case, we would like the prerogative to, at some point in time, have that discussion and make a decision as to whether or not we might want to take our two highest ranked schools in the poll and have them play each other at the end of the year," Bowlsby said. He also stressed the concern of having a rematch of teams soon after they played during the regular season.
"I don't know that we would do it, but we think it would not be a bad idea to have the prerogative. So we're kind of existing in an environment where deregulation has some traction and we've advocated for that rule to be deregulated, but we've done so without any particular agenda."
Fisher, whose team won the national championship in 2013, showed opposition to the new four-team playoff. He defended the bowl system and its ability to help programs end the season on a winning note, saying, "It's a way that programs are built for the future.
“It’s the way your Louisville’s and TCU’s and Utah’s and all those programs were able to get in those kinds of games and evolve their programs into elite programs."
Still, Fisher understands where college football is headed.
"Wherever they tell us where to be, we'll show up. That's the way it's going to be," he said. "I don't mind it. That's the hand that's dealt, let's go play it.
Bowlsby understands there are risks with not having a conference championship game, as five major conferences fight for their champions to make the four-team playoff. But he is confident in the Big 12's system.
"Our champion has been decided on the last day of the season for about five years. We have great competition at the end of the year," Bowlsby said. "I think there will be a year when we'll say, 'Gosh, if we could have played just one more good opponent, we might have been able to demonstrate that we were good enough.'
"When you play that playoff game at the end of the year, you also have two or your better teams presumably play each other, and one of them becomes damaged goods, and it may not be the one you want. I think the answer is some years it's a good thing, some years it's not a good thing."
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