FORT WORTH, Texas — Now the Big 12 has a real debate to settle after both of its co-champions were left out of the four-team playoff.
After weeks of talk about whether Baylor or TCU deserved to be in the playoff, neither made it Sunday, and the Big 12 may be reconsidering how to declare its champion.
"That will cause us to go back to the drawing board a little bit and talk about whether or not we need to think about a different model," Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby told ESPN after the final playoff ranking.
The Big 12 is the only one of the big-five leagues without a championship game, but it also is the only one in which every team plays each other in a round-robin schedule. Baylor and TCU were declared co-champions, even though the Bears beat the Horned Frogs 61-58 on Oct. 11.
The Big 12 can't hold a championship game because it has only 10 teams; current NCAA rules require conferences with 12 teams split into two divisions to play a title game.
"We're in a room that feels like we just lost a football game. That to me is a travesty," Baylor coach Art Briles said Sunday. "That's what I hate. We won a big game (Saturday) night. We are Big 12 champions. We won a Big 12 championship for two years in a row."
Baylor was fifth in the final playoff ranking, with TCU sixth. The Bears had been behind TCU in the first six weekly rankings, which began 21/2 weeks after they played each other.
The top four were Alabama, Oregon, Florida State and Ohio State. All won conference championship games.
Bowlsby said that is a clear indication that the Big 12 got penalized for not having a championship game on the first weekend in December, when the league was instead wrapping up its regular season with two games that had title implications.
"I thought you had a championship game because you had so many teams, and that they split their divisions, and you played so that the best played from both sides," TCU coach Gary Patterson said. "For me, if we have to have championship games so it gives us the better opportunity, then we'll have to go do that."
Patterson pointed out that Big 12 coaches voted on and approved co-champions and that he is okay with that declaration. But he added that he would have no problem in the future to "just play the game off" in such situations to determine "one true champion, if that's what people want."
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