For several months, Big 12 expansion was considered a matter of when, not if. But when push came to shove, the conference elected to stick with 10 teams.
“Well, the entire process was handled by our conference presidents and chancellors, as well as our commissioner, Bob Bowlsby,” Oklahoma athletic director Joe Castiglione said on CBS Sports Radio’s After Hours with Amy Lawrence. “There were deliberations that took place, and they decided to stay with the 10 teams that we currently have and try to work to make our conference stronger. This idea that has existed and been discussed really had to be rooted in a means to make our conference stronger. It certainly wold have made our conference larger. And I understand in today’s world when we’re called the Big 12 and we have 10 teams and the Big Ten has 14 teams, we tend to confuse the public a little bit. But I think for now, we’re moving forward with 10 teams and trying to work to strengthen our league in its entirety.”
The Big 12 was left out of the inaugural College Football Playoff – somewhat controversially – in 2014, while Oklahoma represented the conference in 2015 and lost to Clemson, 37-17.
Overall, though, Castiglione believes the playoff has been a success for college football.
“I like it,” he said. “It’s given another way for college football to engage the fans of the various teams, the various universities. I think the format right now with four teams serves us well. Certainly we’ve been involved in debates, whether the playoff itself should be expanded from four to six or or to eight or beyond. But regardless of the number of teams we have in the playoffs, there will still be some that feel their team should be in, whatever format it is. So until the format itself changes, what we’re trying to do is put ourselves in a position to be selected for the playoff and then hopefully get in there and win a couple of games and seize the national championship.”
The Sooners (8-2), who are eighth in this week’s rankings, have won seven straight games since losing to Houston and Ohio State in September. Nevertheless, they remain a longshot to make the playoff.
Given how well the Sooners are playing now, should they reconsider how they schedule their out-of-conference slate?
“Not at all,” Castiglione said. “I think we have the right scheduling philosophy. It’s worked exceptionally well for us and I could point to numerous examples that helped us get into the national championship game during the BCS era and certainly helped us last year become one of the four teams in the College Football Playoff. The only thing I would change is winning the game itself. When we put Houston and Ohio State on the schedule, we knew Ohio State was formidable and Houston would be a very good test. They ended up being a lot better in the last couple of years than perhaps they are traditionally, but all credit to them. They definitely beat us that day. The only thing we would change is go back and play better.”