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AP Sports Writer
ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — The Big 12 Conference would certainly benefit from an expanded College Football Playoff and likely never be left out again.
Under the proposed 12- team format that would still be at least a couple of seasons away, six-time defending Big 12 champion Oklahoma would have been in the playoff again last season. Iowa State, which had a league-best 8-1 record in the regular season before losing its first championship game in any conference, would have become the first Big 12 team other than the Sooners to make it.
Neither the Sooners or Cyclones — picked to finish 1-2 again this season — made it under the current four-team playoff that began seven seasons ago, when Big 12 co-champions TCU and Baylor were left out after the final CFP rankings.
“I think the expansion that’s been proposed is a great start. I commend the committee that put it together because you’ve got to put yourself out there. You’ve got to start somewhere,” Oklahoma coach Lincoln Riley said Wednesday at Big 12 Media Days.
Oklahoma lost CFP semi- final games in 2015, 2017, 2018 and 2019, but would have made the playoff the past six seasons if there was 12-team fields.
Iowa State coach Matt Campbell said he hadn’t really reflected on the possibilities, or what could have been, but expressed the desire for a balanced approach.
“I’m a guy that played Division III football, and there is a playoff, and I think that part of it you certainly love. Obviously you love the bowl games and what that stands for. So that balance, I think, is what we’re trying to find,” Campbell said. “And I certainly think the more teams that are competing for that playoff come November and December, the more universities and student bodies are engaged in the entirety of the finish of the season.”
Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby was one of four members of the CFP management committee that over a two-year period considered various options, from remaining at four play- off teams to expanding to as many as 16. The subcommittee, which also included SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey, Mountain West Commissioner Craig Thompson and Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick, recommended a 12-team playoff that would include the six highest- ranked conference champions and six at-large choices.
“The first piece of feedback I got was there was great surprise we went as large as 12,” Bowlsby said Wednesday.