Of all the dumb things about the Big 12, the least dumb thing is that it’s called the Big 12 but has only 10 member schools. Sure, that’s dumb, but at least it’s understandable: “Big Ten” was already taken (by a conference with 14 schools, natch), so why not stick with tradition? But everything else about the Big 12 defies explanation, particularly as it relates to numbers. The Big 12 can’t count, you guys.
This became even more evident today, with the news that Big 12 presidents and chancellors unanimously voted to bring back a conference championship game starting in 2017. At first blush, this seems like a perfectly sensible move: The other power conferences all have one, and the game is expected to bring in between $20 million and $30 million, and the league’s lack of a title game likely cost it a spot in the inaugural College Football Playoff. But then it was revealed that the Big 12 is seriously considering keeping its round-robin scheduling format for the regular season even while splitting the conference into two five-team divisions, which sort of defeats the purpose of having a conference title game. What’s the point of a round-robin schedule if you have a conference championship game? Or vice versa? Clearly, the Big 12 forgot how few schools were in its own damn league.
We get it: Math is hard, and it sure isn’t fun. But to survive in the fast-paced marketplace of college sports, it’s necessary. Fortunately, The Ringer is here to help. Below is a semicomprehensive list of numbers, complete with corresponding real-world examples that relate to the Big 12’s recent conundrums and questionable decisions. If this doesn’t teach the conference’s leaders how to count, nothing will.
Zero: National champions the Big 12 has had in football over the past decade.
Zero: Conferencewide TV networks.
One: Team-specific TV network.
One: “True champion” the Big 12 advertises in its slogan.
Two: “True champions” the Big 12 actually had in 2014 (TCU and Baylor, neither of which qualified for the College Football Playoff, largely due to the lack of a conference title game).
Two: Networks that will take turns airing the Big 12 title game.
Three: Member schools with an interim president (Kansas State, Texas Tech, and Baylor).
10: Teams in the conference in 2016.
12: Teams in the conference in 2010, before the departures of Colorado, Missouri, Nebraska, and Texas A&M, and the addition of TCU and West Virginia.
16: Possible teams in the conference in 2018 (UConn, BYU, Cincinnati, UCF, USF, and Colorado State have all been rumored as potential additions).
20: Points that Oklahoma lost to Clemson by in last year’s Orange Bowl.
2.5 million: Dollars that Big 12 commish Bob Bowlsby makes per year, $2.5 million more than the conference’s highest-paid football player.
304 million: Dollars in revenue the Big 12 distributed this year. The lesson: No matter how incompetent college sports conferences are, they can’t help but fall into giant piles of money.