FRISCO (AP) – When the Big 12 kicks off its football media days on Monday, commissioner Bob Bowlsby will be able to tout a winning record in bowl games last season and the still-growing revenue for the league’s 10 schools.
Three new head coaches will take the podium at a new venue for the annual two-day midsummer gathering, which will be held about 4 ½ months before the Big 12 plays its first conference championship game since 2010.
What the league really needs this season is to get a team into the College Football Playoff.
There are still many outsiders with negative perceptions of the smallest Power Five league, which hasn’t won a national championship since Texas with Vince Young a dozen seasons ago and has had only one playoff team in the first three years of that final-four format.
“We had a pretty good postseason despite not being in the CFP playoff. Obviously, that’s where we want to be,” said Bowlsby, who recently marked his five-year anniversary leading the league. “It’s a high-stakes game of musical chairs. There are at least five suitors and only four seats. … We know we need to be in more. It’s as simple as that.”
Bowlsby still doesn’t agree with those lingering perceptions from outside the league — and says there are no questions that the Big 12 has good teams, players and coaches — but he did acknowledge feeling “a sense of urgency” in regards to the playoff.
Oklahoma’s David Boren, the only one of the Big 12 presidents who has been in his position since the league’s inception two decades ago, was asked during the spring meetings the importance of the CFP when judging the league’s success.
“It would be foolish to say it’s not important,” said Boren, whose Sooners made it to the playoff two years ago.
TCU athletic director Chris Del Conte said a league championship game provides another positive factor for the CFP selection committee to consider when determining the top four teams.
The Big 12 had been the only of the Power Five leagues without a championship game last season. But it also is the only of the five leagues that plays a round-robin schedule — something that hasn’t changed, guaranteeing a rematch from the regular season the first weekend in December.
After coach Bob Stoops’ sudden and surprise retirement from Oklahoma last month, 33-year-old offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley was promoted and became the youngest FBS head coach. Riley and the Sooners, the preseason favorite to win their third straight Big 12 title and record 11th overall, will participate Monday with Iowa State, Kansas, Texas Tech and TCU. Tuesday’s lineup has Texas with new coach Tom Herman, Baylor with new coach Matt Rhule, Kansas State, Oklahoma State and West Virginia.
Instead of a downtown or airport hotel like in the past, media days this year will be held on the field at the Ford Center. That is part of The Star, the nearly year-old complex in suburban Frisco where the Dallas Cowboys have their headquarters and practice facilities. The Big 12 will hold its championship game at the NFL team’s home stadium in Arlington, Texas.
The league was 4-2 in bowl games last season, the first time since 2011 with a winning record in the postseason. Big 12 schools split a record $348 million in revenue, or $34.8 million per school, for the 2016-17 academic year. That number will grow again next year, including a boost of up to $30 million from the championship game.
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