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The conference title game has KILLED the Big 12...

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Okay, maybe not killed...but certainly handicapped. In my hesitance to read any articles yesterday morning, I overlooked this Joe Posnanski column.

Heartbreak has now struck five times in Big 12 championship history. Can you believe that? Five times. There have only been 12 of these games, so that’s a pretty high percentage.

Heartbreak happened in the very first Big 12 championship gamein 1996, when a nothing-to-lose Texas threw a wacky fourth-down pass and knocked Nebraska right out of the national-championship picture. It happened two years later, when Texas A&M beat Kansas State in double overtime, and I’ve never seen a team as destroyed as those Wildcats were after that loss. Even tough old coach Bill Snyder shed a few tears.

It happened again in 2001; this time it was Texas throwing interceptions and losing its national-championship chance in a stunning loss to Colorado. It happened in 2003, when Snyder exacted his revenge, and Kansas State destroyed No. 1 Oklahoma 35-7. The Sooners did still go on to the national-championship game that year, but their invincibility was pierced, and they never quite recovered.

Somehow I hadn't connected all the dots on this one. The Big 12 title game has killed national title contenders FIVE TIMES. In TWELVE OPPORTUNITIES. A 41.7% kill rate. That's insane. Meanwhile, the Ohio State's of the world just sit back and watch the carnage. If the Big 12 title game didn't exist, the conference would have probably had the following teams playing the national title game (or whatever equivalent existed in the mid- to late-'90s):

1996 - Nebraska
1997 - Nebraska
1998 - Kansas State
2000 - Oklahoma
2001 - Texas
2003 - Oklahoma
2004 - Oklahoma
2005 - Texas
2007 - Missouri

Nine times in twelve seasons is mighty impressive.

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As it stands, the list is this:

1997 - Nebraska
2000 - Oklahoma
2003 - Oklahoma
2004 - Oklahoma
2005 - Texas

Still relatively impressive compared to some conferences, but...do you think the SEC would still be assumed to be end-all-be-all of college football if the Big 12 had national title finalists nine times in twelve seasons, and from five different schools, no less?

Full disclosure: I didn't care nearly as much about this issue until my team was involved. It should go without saying that I'm a homer, and said homerism affects my point of view. I was rooting for Texas over NU in 1996 and REALLY rooting for ATM over K-State in 1998. And for that matter, I was rooting for CU over UT in 2001 too. So the results of the conference title game has often suited my short-term rooting goals. But I'm a moron, and I've never claimed to be otherwise.

Long-term, it's pretty easy to notice that the conference championship game has hurt the Big 12--especially possibly K-State and Mizzou, who had just one chance at the big-time and lost it. But it wouldn't be nearly as big a deal if every conference had one. As many others have been saying--it should be an all-or-nothing deal. What say you?