Proposal To Allow Big 12 Title Game Marches On

Proposal To Allow Big 12 Title Game Marches On

Heather Dinich, ESPN Staff Writer

A formal proposal for the deregulation of conference championship games, which would allow the Big 12 to have a championship game as early as 2016, was advanced to the NCAA Council this week and is expected to be approved in January, Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby told ESPN.com.

Bowlsby, who is chairman of the Football Oversight Committee, said the legislation will go out for membership comment over the next 60 days. The FBS representatives on the NCAA Council will have the final vote.

"It's officially in the system," Bowlsby said. "We haven't encountered any resistance to it at all. It's really deregulation, is allowing conferences to do what they want to determine their champion. In the end, I expect that it will be approved."

Under current NCAA rules, conferences must have 12 members and two divisions to host a league title game. The Big 12, with only 10 teams, is the only Power 5 conference that doesn't have a title game. Football is the only sport that requires a minimum number of conference members to have a title game.

If the NCAA loosens its restrictions, the Big 12 would have the freedom to host a title game in Year 3 of the College Football Playoff.

"That's up to our athletic directors," Bowlsby said. "We've decided not to deal with it until such time as the rules have actually been changed."

The Big 12 has been at the center of postseason discussions in the new era of the College Football Playoff because of how important the Big Ten championship game was to Ohio State's No. 4 ranking (the top four teams make the playoff). In the final College Football Playoff rankings, TCU dropped from No. 3 to No. 6 despite winning its last regular-season game, while Ohio State jumped from No. 5 to No. 4 after winning the Big Ten title game. TCU and No. 5 Baylor finished as Big 12 co-champs.

If deregulation passes as expected, the Big 12 could have a title game without having to add two more teams to the league -- a drastic measure, but not an impossible one given recent expansion history.

Oklahoma president David Boren reignited the discussion Wednesday when he suggested the Big 12 "should strive for" a 12-team league. In spite of Boren's comments, Bowlsby said there is not enough support within the league for expansion right now.

"I certainly would never say never, but I don't think the votes are there at the present time to move from 10," Bowlsby said. "The significant majority of our presidents and chancellors feel that 10 is the right number, but president Boren is an influential guy in our meetings. If he would advocate for it, I'm sure the other presidents and chancellors would listen."

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