Expansion Project Vol I
Expansion Project Vol II
The 13th Game
My knee jerk reaction after TCU dropped from #3 to #6, which has since proven to be a mistake by the committee on par with their getting Ohio State right, was that a championship game was the reason for the Big 12’s exclusion from this year’s playoff contention. I no longer believe that to be the case.
Looking back at the beginning of the season, Ohio State was ranked fifth and had national championship aspirations. Nearly everyone had them on some collision course with the playoffs due to their roster loaded full of NFL talent and a head coach with a penchant for winning the big games. It was the Virginia Tech game that set all that back.
However, while everyone looked at the Virginia Tech game and said, “Wow, you lost to a mediocre ACC team at home?” The playoff committee looked at it a little differently. We were all told that the committee would take injuries into consideration, even looking at how teams played when key personnel were out, but no one really believed them.
That Virginia Tech game was played immediately following Ohio State losing potential Heisman candidate Braxton Miller at quarterback. They didn’t play well in his absence, but in the weeks following the team became more and more dominate, showing they were as good as everyone believed. In doing so they erased the Virginia Tech game due to it being tabbed as an injury game. In essence, it didn’t count with the playoff committee. An anomaly.
TCU, on the other hand, began the season unranked. They had a terrific season and I don’t think you’ll find a single analyst looking back at this season who thinks they didn’t deserve a shot at the title. The best three teams in the post season were Oregon, Ohio State and TCU. TCU’s only blemish was they lost to Baylor at Baylor. Normally this would be a good loss, but the committee also said that head to head mattered and when two 12-1 teams were presented, Baylor got the nod. If Ohio State’s inclusion was the best move of the committee, placing TCU sixth was the worst move.
They basically said that losing to Virginia Tech and West Virginia were better than losing to Baylor. Dumb, but that’s the corner they painted themselves into. I’m sure this will become more and more refined as the years progress.
So if the 13th game didn’t hurt TCU, how did it help Ohio State? This one is pretty easy if you look back at their weekly decisions. Here’s a hint, it also had to do with injuries.
After the 12th game Ohio State lost their second QB, leaving a lot of questions on the table if they would be worthy of a spot. Looking back, that’s why they were ranked where they were, not because the committee didn’t like them, but because there were concerns about how they would respond with a third string QB. Once they demolished Wisconsin in the championship game, fears were removed and they got the job.
It probably didn’t matter if TCU had a CCG or not. Ohio State was getting in the mix. If TCU starts the year in the top five and has the same success they’ll be treated like that too now. And that is why the Big 12 shouldn’t expand due to one data point. Mathematically speaking, out of twelve years they should get the shaft three or four times, get the benefit of the doubt three or four times, and be in the playoffs the rest. You don’t expand until you’re sure that formula is wrong.
That being said…
You people are relentless on the expansion front. The sheer amount of questions I’ve received about various teams or possibilities over the past two months is extensive. So I give up. As much as I don’t believe expansion is good idea, currently, (key word: currently) for the Big 12, there is a lot to consider.
In short, let’s do this.
However, if we’re going to do this, let’s dive deeply into the subject. Let’s not just look at a school and say, “well, they don’t currently have a home, so they must be the best!” That is not how expansion works. Here is how expansion works: someone wants to move conferences and it makes sense for another conference to add them. If it doesn’t make sense, then you shouldn’t add.
To prep for this I have made a lot of phone calls over the past two months to people who should know a thing or two about what to expect in any expansion. One of my most interesting conversations has come from a contact in the SEC office who gave a lot of really interesting stories about how they discussed expansion with A&M and Missouri and the development of the SEC Network. In short, everything you think is the case is wrong.
Therefore, if we are going to do this, let’s do it right and take our time. Over the next month or so I’m going to dive into numerous factors that affect conference expansion, factors that were mentioned to me in interviews to make sure are considered. There is a lot at play in these deliberations and it is often extremely complicated, even if we make them very basic and easy in a short article to a general audience.
Next week I am going to start by looking at the big topics that effect schools jumping conferences. There is more than just “we need another and you’re not in a conference.” No one I talked to, no one, stated that that is how it will work.
After we do that we’ll try and come up with a system to rate possibilities based on those topics and factors. We need some sort of system to allow us to compare possible schools, otherwise all you’re doing is randomly picking racehorses and wondering why you don’t win.
Lastly, we’ll start addressing individual schools and what they do or do not bring to the Big 12. It is also within this stage that we will also discuss various strategies, including how the Big 12 would have to operate.
Are you ready to discuss expansion? If there are scenarios, teams, or topics you’d like to make sure are addressed, keep sending in your comments. I hope to work as many into this project as possible.
If you have any questions or would like some numbers discussed, contact The Number Monkey on Twitter @TheNumberMonkey or via email [email protected]
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