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Why the Big 12 should get a conference championship game without expanding

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There's no reason why the conference shouldn't get a waiver to have a final game, despite only having 10 teams.

Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

When the Baylor Bears and the TCU Horned Frogs were left out of the first-ever College Football Playoffs over the weekend, scrutiny on the conference and its current state intensified.

One question loomed largest -- should the Big 12 expand back to 12 teams to add a conference championship game?

Given that there aren't monetary reasons to add two more schools to the mix and reduce the television payouts for each member institution, the crucial current component to the discussion remains whether or not the league will receive a waiver to host a final game to determine the one true champion once and for all.

To understand why the Big 12 should be allowed to hold such a game with only 10 teams, it's important to understand how the rule came about in the first place.

Andy Staples of SI explains:

[In 1986, West Chester (Pa.) University athletic director Dick] Yoder wrote a draft of the rule that required 14 schools -- to match the [Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference's] membership -- split into two divisions, playing a round-robin schedule within their divisions. After learning from friends with more NCAA legislative experience that he had worded the legislation incorrectly, he rewrote it. But while Yoder was rewriting, some friends from the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA) -- a 12-member league of historically black schools then spread throughout North CarolinaVirginia and Maryland -- asked him if their league could co-sponsor the legislation. They liked the idea, and they also used divisions. So, Yoder revised his legislation to require 12 teams and not 14. That was it. There was no research. No debate. The CIAA had 12 members at the time, so Yoder wrote the number 12 into the legislation. "We were Division II," Yoder said. "Nobody really cared."

Five years after the rule passed in 1987, the SEC commissioner at the time used it to start the conference's own championship game in 1992.

Basically, the rule is completely arbitrary, which should bode well for the Big 12 and the ACC -- the other conference that has applied for a waiver, for different reasons -- when the NCAA rules on the decision.

However, the potential impediment are the other conferences -- if other leagues see the lack of a title game in the Big 12 as a competitive advantage for them, it's possible that they could push for denial of the waiver and force commissioner Bob Bowlsby to add two more member institutions.

There's not much to substantiate that potential argument based on how the rule came about, but it's not hard to see that happening if the Big 10, for instances, decides that there could be another scenario like this year if the Big 12 continues without that final game.

And until there's a ruling on having a conference championship game for the Big 12, nothing's going to happen with any possible expansion, so it's probably worth tabling any in-depth thoughts about where the league might go to find two more extra teams if that becomes necessary.