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What does Big 12 do after College Football Playoff snubs for Baylor, TCU?

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The conference once again has some problems. What are the solutions?

Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

So much for that head-to-head debate between the Baylor Bears and the TCU Horned Frogs -- the discussion was ultimately rendered moot when the College Football Playoff Committee chose the Ohio State Buckeyes instead for the final spot in the first-ever playoffs.

What happened and what are the solutions to avoid similar problems in the future for a conference that spent nearly a half a million dollars to come up with the "One True Champion" branding, yet ultimately submitted co-champions to the committee?

The situation highlights the continued issues for a conference that barely survived realignment and no longer has a conference championship game, in part because the league's constituents opted for more money instead of 12 teams.

On Sunday afternoon, Baylor head coach Art Briles said he thought the league submitting co-champions to the committee hurt both schools. And Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby didn't help things by admitting that he misspoke back at Big 12 Media Days when he said that the league would use tiebreakers to determine a champion.

"If we have two teams tied, they'll still be co-champions," he said on Sunday. "We don't use the tie-breaker to determine our champion. We use the tie-breaker to determine our representative."

But Bowlsby also said that the conference will be going "back to the drawing board" to look at a number of factors that contributed to the decision by the committee.

How did Ohio State jump TCU, for instance?

Jeff Long, the head of the committee, said that the massive blowout by the Buckeyes in the Big 10 Championship Game was what pushed Ohio State past the two Big 12 schools.

There are also some conspiracy theories that are starting to circle, the most significant of which is the accusation that the committee opted to take the Buckeyes and their massive fan base over the Bears and Horned Frogs, schools that don't travel nearly as well.

In giving some credence to that line of thinking, the best thing for the Big 12 moving forward would be for Oklahoma and Texas to return to the top of the conference to provide those large fanbases that some believe the committee craves to ensure full stadiums.

The other theory revolves around the perception of the Big 10.

Despite the fact that Wisconsin lost to Northwestern this season, the Ohio State blowout was convincing to a committee that included former Badgers head coach Barry Alvarez and former Cornhuskers head coach and athletic director Tom Osborne, who probably isn't such a big fan of the Big 12 after leaving the conference.

Meanwhile, the only voice for the Big 12 was West Virginia athletics director Oliver Luck.

The only other head coach on the committee is Tyrone Willingham, the former head man at Stanford, Notre Dame, and Washington, so two of the three former head coach essentially now represent the Big 10.

So being better represented on the committee in the future is one way that the Big 12 could avoid a similar fate in the future, especially since the home loss to Virginia Tech for Ohio State was by far the worst of the three teams considered for that fourth spot.

Bowlsby also noted that the poor non-conference played a role for Baylor after the Bears rampaged through SMU, Northwestern State, and Buffalo. With only a home-and-home with Duke over the coming years representing anything close to a competitive match up, Baylor may have to make some changes in the future if it wants to provide the type of non-conference schedule that the committee has now shown it wants.

There's now also some speculation that the league could require teams to schedule one Power 5 non-conference opponent, though the first-ever selection process put into stark relief just how necessary that is for Big 12 schools.

Since Texas is trying to get to a position of being in the mix for one of those four spots, the strong non-conference schedule set up for the future means that similar problems shouldn't come up for the Longhorns if head coach Charlie Strong can return the program to former success.

The big key here for the Big 12 moving forward is the possibility of having a conference championship game. Under the current rules, a conference must have 12 teams in order to play one, but the Big 12 is one of the leagues that has filed for a waiver to play the game anyway.

If that happens, it would put the conference in the odd position of playing the round-robin schedule that produced all the talk about "One True Champion" and then still having a conference championship game. Still, it would be a much better situation than the current predicament because it would actually produce a winner against a strong opponent in the final week of the season.

Should the league have to continue without a conference championship game, using tiebreakers to submit one champion to the committee should also be under consideration.

As for expansion, Bowlsby said that the league hasn't been seriously considering adding two more teams, saying that factors beyond the playoffs would have to spur the decision, with money and the lack of strong available candidates both major impediments there.

Schools in the ACC are off the board with the conference's grant of television rights through 2027, but programs from other conferences like Cincinnati are still available. Louisville, however, is not after moving to the ACC -- the Cardinals were considered one of the strongest candidates to join the Big 12 during the height of conference realignment.

Schools like SMU, Tulane, and Tulsa don't have a shot at joining the conference, it would seem, but Central Florida has been mentioned as a possibility and BYU remains out there as an independent. There's also been some discussion about Colorado State if the conference wants to look west.

Other than BYU, all of those solutions seem rather tepid, as none significantly raise the profile of the conference, a key concern because a lot of this does come down to money, as always.

So the first key here is the determination of whether or not the Big 12 can hold a conference championship game. If not, the conference will have to decide whether there are any other compelling reasons to add two more schools beyond the ability to play that final game to determine an actual, true champion.

In other words, there's a lot to talk about here and a lot of pressure on Bowlsby, whose conference and reputation have both taken major hits.

This situation can't happen again.