Tahlequah Daily Press

Sports

January 31, 2013

Big 12 hoping for clearance on conference championship game

STILLWATER — Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby says the league likely will seek permission from the NCAA to hold a championship game even though it doesn't have the 12 members required under the current rules.

Down to 10 members after the departure of Nebraska, Colorado, Missouri and Texas A&M in recent years, the Big 12 was forced to do without a championship game the last two seasons. Kansas State and Oklahoma tied for the championship with matching 8-1 records in conference play last season, and the Wildcats earned the automatic BCS berth after winning the head-to-head matchup.

Oklahoma got left out of the BCS when Northern Illinois made a late charge up the standings.

Bowlsby had said before this week's Big 12 athletic directors' meetings in Dallas that he expected the topic of pursuing the return of a championship game to come up. With shifting membership, Big Ten and Pac-12 added conference title games in recent years. The SEC and ACC already had them.

"At a time when lots of deregulation is taking place, it seems a little bit odd that the NCAA would be describing how we determine our champions," Bowlsby said Wednesday night, when he watched the Iowa State-Oklahoma State men's basketball game.

"I think it's reasonable to say if you're going to have a champion that you're going to have to designate it in one fashion or another. But to say it has to be between 12 schools or that there has to be divisional play or there has to be a round-robin, we're deregulating lots of things and that certainly is a candidate."

As he has done repeatedly, Bowlsby reiterated that the league is comfortable with proceeding forward with 10 members because conference members are receiving high payouts per school and pleased with their access to the postseason.

"We are unconvinced at this point that larger is better," Bowlsby said.

While the league is not currently considering expansion, Bowlsby said it was looking at working with other conferences for partnerships on such things as strengthening nonconference schedules in football and men's basketball.

"One of the things we know is that the months of October and November in the football season are about as good of sports as you're going to get. Every game is important and every weekend is something exciting. The month of September is not necessarily that way," he said. "It gives us a way to fortify our nonconference schedule in some important ways, too."

He said that could also mean more marquee nonconference games outside of the first month of the football season.

"We, as a rule, haven't played very many nonconference games after the first of October," Bowlsby said. "And so, the thought of choreographing games into the later portion of the season is pretty interesting from a TV standpoint, too."

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