Can we please re-draw the Big 12 football schedules at some point? (Part Two)

Saturday we talked about the slight ridiculousness of the Big 12's rotating football schedules--ridiculous mostly because it never changes, and it can potentially impact the Big 12 North race at any time depending on whether KU and Iowa State are playing both OU and Texas or neither.  It makes much more sense to move to a system in which inter-division schedules are re-drawn every four years to make sure things are as balanced as possible.  To see how this would affect things in the future, today we'll start looking at the past.

When the Big 12 formed in 1996, it was pretty hard to get a read on where the balance of power lied.  Correction: when the Big 12 formed in 1996, it was pretty hard to get a read on where the balance of power lied beyond Nebraska and Texas A&M.  Nebraska we remember, but it's easy to forget just how good ATM was in the early-'90s.  They won at least nine games each of the six years before the Big 12's inaugural season.

Even from the start, the schedules were pretty imbalanced.  Here's how North and South Division teams had fared from 1992-95:

North (169-109-2)

Nebraska (45-4)
Colorado (39-9)
Kansas State (33-13-1)
Kansas (29-18)
Missouri (13-32)
Iowa State (10-33-1)

South (164-113-2)

Texas A&M (41-6-1)
Texas (30-17)
Texas Tech (26-21)
Oklahoma (26-19-1)
Baylor (26-20)
Oklahoma State (15-30)

And here's the inter-division schedule for the first two years:

North

  • Nebraska:  Tech (#3 in the South), OU (#4), BU (#5)
  • Colorado:  ATM (#1), UT (#2), OSU (#6)
  • Kansas State: ATM (#1), Tech (#3), OU (#4)
  • Kansas:  UT (#2), Tech (#3), OU (#4)
  • Missouri: UT (#2), BU (#5), OSU (#6)
  • Iowa State: ATM (#1), BU (#5), OSU (#6)

So NU dodged either of the top two teams, CU played both of the top two teams, KSU and KU didn't play either of the bottom two teams, MU and ISU played both of the bottom two teams.  Plus, KU and KSU played exactly the same teams, despite the fact that it's pretty easy to shuffle everybody up.  And then it all reversed two years later.  It was imbalanced from the start.

On the flipside...

South

  • Texas A&M: CU (#2 in the North), KSU (#3), ISU (#6)
  • Texas: CU (#2), KU (#4), MU (#5)
  • Texas Tech: NU (#1), KSU (#3), KU (#4)
  • Oklahoma: NU (#1), KSU (#3), KU (#4)
  • Baylor: NU (#1), MU (#5), ISU (#6)
  • Oklahoma State: CU (#2), MU (#5), ISU (#6)

While everybody played either NU or CU, there was significant imbalance on the back end--Tech and OU played neither MU nor ISU, while BU and OSU played them both.  Maybe this was an attempt to pit strong teams against strong teams and weak against weak, but it was unfair to the overall division races.

So here's what we're going to do: we're going to redraw the 1996-99 slates.  For the first two years, here are the matchup changes:

  • Nebraska plays Texas A&M instead of Texas Tech.
  • Colorado plays Texas Tech instead of Texas A&M.
  • Kansas State plays Oklahoma State instead of Oklahoma.
  • Kansas plays Baylor instead of Texas Tech.
  • Missouri plays Texas Tech instead of Baylor.
  • Iowa State plays Oklahoma instead of Oklahoma State.

Viola!  Now everybody plays somebody from each 2-team tier in the opposite division.

What does that do for results?  Well, I consulted everybody's favorite seemingly-accurate-but-not-really source for made-up historical games, WhatIfSports.com, and will post the fake results for the new games with each corresponding year.  Let's get to the standings!

1996

New Games

ATM beats NU in College Station, Tech beats Colorado in Lubbock, KSU whips OSU in Manhattan, Baylor beats Kansas in Lawrence (?), Tech beats Missouri in Lubbock, Iowa State beats Oklahoma in Ames.

New North Standings

Nebraska 6-2 (9-3)
Kansas State 6-2 (9-2)
Colorado 6-2 (8-3)
Kansas 2-6 (4-7)
Missouri 2-6 (4-7)
Iowa State 1-7 (2-9)

New South Standings

Texas 6-2 (8-4)
Texas Tech 6-2 (8-3)
Texas A&M 5-3 (7-5)
Oklahoma 4-4 (4-7)
Baylor 2-6 (5-6)
Oklahoma State 1-7 (4-7)

New Big 12 Championship Game

Texas 37, Nebraska 27

Thanks to NU's 2-0 record over KSU and CU, and Texas's win over Tech, we get the same title game matchup, but the Horns' major upset over the Huskers doesn't carry the same cachet, as it didn't keep NU out of the national title game--NU was already knocked down a few pegs from their loss to ATM.

New Bowl Matchups

Fiesta: Penn State 38, Texas 15
Cotton: Nebraska 38, BYU 17*
Holiday: Washington 28, Kansas State 23*
Alamo: Colorado 33, Iowa 6*
Aloha: Navy 17, Texas Tech 10*
Insight.com: Texas A&M 49, Utah 46 (4OT!  Thank you, WhatIfSports!)*

* Nebraska's extra loss means they probably don't get an at-large Orange Bowl bid, and everybody gets knocked down in the bowl rotation.  NU goes Cotton instead of KSU, KSU goes Holiday instead of CU, CU goes Alamo instead of Texas Tech, Texas Tech goes, uhh...Aloha?  And a newly bowl-eligible Texas A&M (they were 6-6 in real-life and didn't go bowling) goes, uhh, Insight.com Bowl?  Yeah, that sounds good.

Biggest Winner of Schedule Re-Distribution

Gotta be Texas Tech, who traded NU for CU and KU for MU and snuck an extra win out of the deal, tying for the first ever South title.  Of course, they still ran into scandal with Byron "0.0" Hanspard, and they were still a no-show in the bowl game, but still...overall, it worked out for them.

1997

New Games

Nebraska beats ATM in Lincoln, KSU whips OSU in Stillwater, CU beats Tech in Boulder, KU beats Baylor in Waco, MU beats Tech in Columbia, OU beats ISU in Norman.

New North Standings

Nebraska 8-0 (11-0)
Kansas State 7-1 (10-1)
Missouri 5-3 (7-4)
Colorado 4-4 (6-5)
Kansas 4-4 (6-5)
Iowa State 1-7 (1-10)

New South Standings

Texas A&M 5-3 (8-3)
Oklahoma State 4-4 (7-4)
Texas Tech 4-4 (5-6)
Oklahoma 3-5 (5-7)
Texas 2-6 (4-7)
Baylor 1-7 (2-9)

New Big 12 Championship Game

Nebraska 54, Texas A&M 15

Once again, we get the same title game matchup.  The main things that change here are that ATM has an extra loss, meaning they're not as much of a slam dunk for the Cotton Bowl, and both Colorado and Kansas pick up extra wins and become bowl eligible.

Oh yeah, and how freaking dominant was the North in these initial years??

New Bowl Matchups

Orange: Nebraska 41, Tennessee 17
Fiesta: Kansas State 35, Syracuse 18
Cotton: UCLA 29, Texas A&M 23
Holiday: Colorado State 35, Missouri 24
Alamo: Purdue 33, Oklahoma State 20
Insight.com: New Mexico 29, Colorado 28*
Aloha: Washington 44, Kansas 26*

* I'd like to think that Mizzou may have made the Cotton Bowl because of ATM's extra loss and the pummeling they took in the Big 12 title game, but I have to figure that because it's in Dallas, ATM still gets the nod.  That means the only change among the bowls is that CU and KU sneak into the bowl picture (and both lose).  I don't specifically remember the Big 12 bowl tie-ins at this point, but I'm pretty sure they still got dibs on Insight.com and Aloha bids.

Biggest Winner of Schedule Re-Distribution

None, really, but we'll say Eric Vann and a mediocre Kansas team that snuck a trip to Hawaii out of the new scheduling arrangement.

1998

New Games

Tech upsets Nebraska in Lubbock, KSU beats OU in Manhattan, MU beats Baylor in Waco, ATM beats CU in Boulder, Tech beats KU in Lubbock, OSU beats ISU in Stillwater.

New North Standings

Kansas State 8-0 (11-0)
Nebraska 5-3 (9-3)
Missouri 5-3 (7-4)
Colorado 3-5 (6-5)
Kansas 1-7 (4-7)
Iowa State 1-7 (4-7)

New South Standings

Texas A&M 7-1 (10-2)
Texas Tech 6-2 (9-2)
Texas 6-2 (8-3)
Oklahoma State 4-4 (6-5)
Oklahoma 2-6 (4-7)
Baylor 0-8 (1-10)

New Big 12 Championship Game

Texas A&M 36, Kansas State (OT)

Three years in, and the balanced schedule hasn't produced a different title game matchup yet.  Meanwhile, the South strikes back with a big year, winning the head-to-head battle versus the North by a 2-game margin.

New Bowl Matchups

Sugar: Ohio State 24, Texas A&M 14
Cotton: Texas Tech 20, Mississippi State 13*
Holiday: Arizona 23, Nebraska 20
Alamo: Texas 41, Purdue 35*
Independence: Missouri 45, Ole Miss 32 (I'm including the WhatIf box score for this one...check out Devin West's rushing yards...awesome)*
Insight.com: Kansas State 21, West Virginia 14*
Aloha: Colorado 51, Oregon 43

* Talk about a cataclysmic development for K-State.  This may not have been what happened, but it does seem pretty realistic to me.  Texas Tech improved by two games over their real-life situation in '98, meaning they may have been in line for the Cotton Bowl at 9-2.  If that happens, then Nebraska still probably gets the Holiday Bowl, and...the Alamo Bowl very well might have tried to snatch up Texas at the earliest possible moment because, well, they're the Alamo Bowl and it's Texas.  So when K-State gets upset by ATM, not only do they get passed over for a BCS bid, but the next available bowls are the Insight.com and Independence Bowls, not the Alamo.  Yikes.

The good news from this scenario is that a screwjob even more extreme than what happened in real-life, with K-State falling not only from the national title game to the Alamo Bowl, but to the Insight.com Bowl, may (MAY) have resulted in a more stringent bowl selection process, based at least 1% more on merit than name/money/attendance.  Naive, I know, but it's at least a smidge possible, right?

In all, the Big 12 goes an impressive 6-1 in bowls, though there's not a bid remaining for OSU, who sits at home at 6-5.

Biggest Winner of Schedule Re-Distribution

Got to once again be Ricky "The Other Ricky Williams" Williams and Tech, whose more balanced schedule brought them ten wins and a Cotton Bowl win instead of seven wins and an Independence Bowl loss.

1999

New Games

KSU beats OU in Norman, NU beats Tech in Lincoln, MU beats BU in Columbia, ATM beats CU in College Station, KU beats Tech in Lawrence, OSU beats ISU in Ames.

New North Standings

Nebraska 7-1 (10-1)
Kansas State 7-1 (10-1)
Colorado 5-3 (6-5)
Kansas 3-5 (5-7)
Missouri 1-7 (4-7)
Iowa State 1-7 (4-7)

New South Standings

Texas A&M 6-2 (9-3)
Texas 6-2 (9-3)
Oklahoma 4-4 (6-5)
Oklahoma State 4-4 (6-5)
Texas Tech 4-4 (5-6)
Baylor 0-8 (1-10)

New Big 12 Championship Game

Nebraska 23, Texas A&M 3

In Year Four, we finally get our first new title game matchup.  ATM's win over Colorado replaces a loss to Nebraska, meaning they gain a game in the standings and end up tied with Texas at 6-2.  Their 20-16 win over the 'Horns over Thanksgiving weekend gives them the edge, and they take home their third straight South title.  Of course, they get drubbed in the title game, but still...

Oh yeah, and Mizzou is still terrible, and as you'll see, KSU still gets screwed again in the bowls.

New Bowl Matchups

Fiesta: Nebraska 31, Tennessee 21
Cotton: Arkansas 21, Texas A&M 18*
Holiday: Kansas State 24, Washington 20
Alamo: Penn State 29, Texas 7*
Insight.com: Colorado 62, Boston College 28
Independence: Ole Miss 27, Oklahoma 25
Aloha: Oklahoma State 34, Wake Forest 6*

* No major changes here--due to who won the South, ATM and Texas switch places and still lose their bowl games (and when I get a free ticket to that year's Alamo Bowl, I see Penn State whip Texas instead of ATM).  OSU sneaks into a bowl and whips Wake Forest in Hawaii...good for them.

Biggest Winner of Schedule Re-Distribution

Gotta be Jamar Tooooooombs and ATM, winning their third consecutive South title and getting a better bowl bid.

What have we learned so far?

The first four years of the Big 12's existence, the North was the better division, with a +8 win advantage over the South.  Not surprisingly, then, the more balanced schedules helped South teams a bit more.  Expect to see the same thing when the balance of power shifts dramatically to the South over the next eight seasons.  I haven't drawn everything up yet, but I assume the teams from the weaker North will be helped more in the next couple of four-year spans, as Texas and OU emerge as by far the conference's two best teams.

As a whole, here are the four-year standings for each division:

North
Team W L Win% Division Titles
Kansas State 28 5 .848 1
Nebraska 29 6 .829 3
Colorado 18 14 .563
Missouri 13 19 .406
Kansas 10 22 .313
Iowa State 4 28 .125

From this, we determine that the "tiers" for the next four years of inter-conference schedules are as follows: From 2000-03, everybody in the South plays either KSU or NU, either CU or MU, and either KU or ISU.

South
Team W L Win% Division Titles
Texas A&M 24 11 .686 3
Texas 21 12 .636 1
Texas Tech 20 12 .625
Oklahoma 13 19 .406
Oklahoma State 13 19 .406
Baylor 3 29 .094

From 2000-03, everybody in the North plays either ATM or UT, either Tech or OU, either OSU or BU.

You can see some issues here: Colorado is about to emerge as a major player in the North, while MU is going to suck for a couple more years, meaning whoever draws MU instead of CU has an advantage.  Meanwhile, OU is about to become "OU" again, while Tech is going to remain solid but not amazing; at the same time, ATM will fall off a bit while UT surges.  So it's possible to draw Tech and ATM instead of UT and OU (and vice versa), meaning there will be a bit of imbalance from '00-'03.  However, it's only for four years.  Schedules will be redrawn before 2004.

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