The first College Football Playoff bracket was announced on Sunday, and the Big 12 found itself as the only Power 5 conference without a team in the field. Ohio State, the Big Ten champion, received the final bid over Big 12 co-champions Baylor and TCU.
That has some BYU fans hoping for change in the near future.
There's no doubt that the lack of a championship game doomed the Big 12 this season. Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby admitted as much to ESPN. "It's clear that we were penalized for not having a postseason championship game," Bowlsby said. "It would have been nice to have been told that ahead of time."
The Big 12 bet that whoever won the conference would be able to beat out at least one other champion from a Power 5 conference. The members of the conference didn't want to share any of their TV money with two new schools to get a conference championship game. The conference promoted its nine conference game format with three words: One True Champion.
All of that fell flat when the Big 12 ended up with two true champions. TCU and Baylor finished tied in conference, and Baylor really deserved the conference crown after beating the Horned Frogs head-to-head.
So, while the cheers rose from Columbus, as did the curses from Fort Worth and Waco, fans in Provo couldn't help but smile at the result. After all, Sunday's snub all but ensures that the Big 12 will have to expand to prevent this from happening again.
That means that BYU to the Big 12 is a slam dunk, right? Well, not so fast. Let's take a look at all of the Big 12's options first.
First, the Big 12 could try to get a waiver from the NCAA so that it could have a conference championship game without having 12 teams. That way, the conference wouldn't have to share any TV money with two new members while giving its two best teams an extra game and a better chance at a playoff bid.
While that's not impossible, the other Power 5 conferences could stand in the way. The Pac-12 and Big Ten both expanded so that they could have a conference championship game. Also, Florida State and Ohio State got in over a Big 12 team thanks to a conference championship game. Will the ACC and Big Ten really allow the Big 12 to have their cake and eat it too?
I doubt it.
Second, the Big 12 could push for an eight-team playoff. After all, the Big 12 would have two teams in a hypothetical expanded playoff. Then again, the Big 12 has to convince the other Power 5 conferences to go along with that. If this does happen, it will be years down the road.
Third, the Big 12 can expand. Here's where BYU comes in.
Yes, BYU will be on the list of potential expansion targets. But remember, BYU was also on the list when Nebraska, Colorado, Texas A&M and Missouri all decided to hit the road. While many viewed the Cougars as a front-runner for a coveted Big 12 invite, TCU and West Virginia received invitations instead.
Here is a hard truth for BYU fans: If the Big 12 were crazy about the Cougars, they'd be there already.
Now, this doesn't mean that BYU is doomed to be left out, either. BYU's independence actually works to the Cougars' advantage in this situation as there's no conference to pay off. Besides, BYU brings a solid all-around athletic program.
Buckle up, BYU fans. There's an anxious waiting game ahead.
So, who else could the Big 12 look at? Some have thrown out teams currently in Power 5 conferences, Louisville for example, but that's doubtful. Teams like Missouri and Texas A&M didn't leave the Big 12 for no reason.
The teams at the center of speculation include (in no particular order) BYU, Cincinnati, Memphis, Boise State, Central Florida and South Florida. All of these schools have advantages and disadvantages. The Big 12 would probably like some sort of bridge to West Virginia. There really isn't an ideal candidate or the Big 12 wouldn't have stood pat at 10 despite the risk of being left out of the playoff.
We'll just have to wait and see what the Big 12 decides. At any rate, the one big takeaway from Sunday's snub is that the Big 12 has to do something to avoid a repeat down the road.
Lafe Peavler is a contributor for the Deseret News. Follow him on Twitter @LafePeavler.