Part One (The Groundwork)
Part Two (1996-99)
Part Three (2000-03)
Part Four (2004-07)
You didn't think I forgot about this, did you? In the first four parts of this series, we took a look at a) why redrawing the conference schedules on a four-year basis would be a great idea, and b) what its impact would have been if this balanced schedule approach had been taken since the beginning of the Big 12. Today, we bring the "What if..." to the present tense and summarize.
With the 2004-07 seasons taken into account, the following five changes are made to the 'real-life' schedules for 2008-09:
- Missouri plays Texas A&M instead of Oklahoma State--ironically because ATM was 'better' (and ATM plays MU instead of ISU).
- Kansas plays Oklahoma State instead of Texas (and OSU plays KU instead of MU).
- Kansas State plays Baylor instead of Texas Tech (and BU plays KSU instead of ISU).
- Iowa State plays Texas instead of Texas A&M (and UT plays ISU instead of KU).
- Iowa State plays Texas Tech instead of Baylor (and TT plays ISU instead of KSU).
And, of course, vice versa for 2010-11.
MU beats ATM in Columbia, OSU beats KU in Lawrence, Baylor beats KSU in Manhattan, Texas beats ISU in Ames, Tech beats ISU in Lubbock.
New North Standings
Missouri 6-2 (10-2) (+1 win)
Nebraska 5-3 (8-4)
Kansas 4-4 (7-5)
Colorado 2-6 (5-7)
Kansas State 2-6 (5-7)
Iowa State 0-8 (2-10)
Funny enough, the switch from OSU to ATM (to toughen up MU's schedule since they couldn't play both OSU and BU from the South's bottom tier) helps Missouri. Playing that out, they beat ATM and move to #1 for a #1 vs #2 showdown against Texas the next week. It's possible that the loss to OSU really did steal the Missouri offense's mojo, and that they'd have played better against UT if they had come in undefeated, but...UT played so freaking well against Missouri that there was nothing MU was going to be able to do to win that game. Mizzou moves to #1 for a week and gets trounced in Austin.
Meanwhile, nothing else in the North changes--KU doesn't have to play Texas, but they lose to OSU anyway.
New South Standings
Oklahoma 7-1 (11-1)
Texas 7-1 (11-1)
Texas Tech 7-1 (11-1)
Oklahoma State 5-3 (9-3)
Baylor 2-6 (4-8)
Texas A&M 1-7 (3-9) (-1 win)
In the end, only MU's and ATM's records change. This is the most stable year, really, of this whole 13-year experiment.
New Big 12 Championship Game
Oklahoma 62, Missouri 21
Yeah, this doesn't change. Stupid OU...
New Bowl Matchups
BCS Championship Game: Florida 24, Oklahoma 14
Fiesta: Texas 24, Ohio State 21
Cotton: Ole Miss 47, Texas Tech 34
Gator: Nebraska 26, Clemson 21
Holiday: Missouri 51, Oregon 30*
Alamo: Oklahoma State 42, Northwestern 30*
Insight: Kansas 42, Minnesota 21
* Mizzou getting to 10-3 probably gets them the Holiday Bowl, especially without a head-to-head loss to OSU. WhatIfSports likes MU in that game, but...well, if Chase Daniel played against UO how he played against Northwestern, Mizzou probably doesn't win that game. I'll take it, though. Meanwhile, OSU's defense wasn't nearly as good in November/December as it was in October, but their offense was still probably good enough to handle NW'ern easier than Mizzou did. Otherwise, no changes.
Biggest Winner of Schedule Re-Distribution
Missouri, I guess. They gain a win by avoiding Oklahoma State.
Here would be the new conference schedules for the Big 12 in 2009:
Road: Texas, Kansas State, Iowa State, Oklahoma State
Home: Kansas, Missouri, Texas A&M, Nebraska
Road: Kansas, Nebraska, Texas, Missouri,
Home: Texas Tech, Oklahoma State, Colorado,
Neutral: Kansas State
Road: Colorado, Texas Tech, Kansas State, Oklahoma State,
Home: Iowa State, Oklahoma, Nebraska
Road: Baylor, Oklahoma, Nebraska,
Home: Texas A&M, Colorado, Kansas, Missouri
Neutral: Iowa State
Road: Texas A&M, Colorado, Kansas State,
Home: Nebraska, Texas, Baylor, Iowa State
Road: Missouri, Baylor, Kansas, Colorado
Home: Texas Tech, Iowa State, Oklahoma, Kansas State
Road: Oklahoma, Kansas State, Missouri, Texas A&M,
Home: Oklahoma State, Nebraska, Texas, Texas Tech
Road: Kansas, Nebraska, Texas Tech
Home: Baylor, Kansas State, Texas A&M, Oklahoma State
Road: Texas A&M, Baylor, Iowa State, Oklahoma
Home: Kansas, Texas, Texas Tech, Colorado,
Road: Missouri, Oklahoma State, Baylor, Texas A&M
Home: Texas Tech, Colorado, Iowa State,
Road: Oklahoma State, Missouri, Baylor, Texas,
Home: Kansas State, Texas Tech, Colorado, Oklahoma
Road: Iowa State, Texas A&M, Kansas, Oklahoma,
Home: Texas, Nebraska, Oklahoma State, Baylor
What Have We Learned?
- When there's a clear division hierarchy (as with UT and OU most of the recent years in the South, or with NU early in the Big 12's existence), schedule simply doesn't matter.
- When there's parity or no clear front-runner, schedule really, really matters. That's when having utterly imbalanced schedules like Iowa State's and Kansas's impact the proceedings too much, and in both directions.
- Only a few times over the years would a balanced schedule have altered things significantly--only four times in 13 seasons would the title game matchup have likely changed, and in only a couple would the change have likely resulted in a different conference champion. So clearly this change wouldn't have extreme consequences, but it inherently makes sense and needs to be done regardless.
- Imbalanced schedules tend to help the stronger of the two divisions.
Mental masturbation is fun.