Curtis Kitchen has followed the Big 12, Kansas State and national college basketball beat including K-State's run to the NCAA Tournament Elite 8 in 2010. You can currently follow his work at his blog: KitchenKC.com In the past, he also covered the Kansas City Wizards (now Sporting KC) for Major League Soccer's mlsnet.com site as well as the Kansas City Chiefs and Royals for the other sports station in town. His freelance portfolio ranges media outlets and publications, including gopowercat.com (part of the Rivals network), collegehoopsnet.com and the Miami Herald.
Curtis Kitchen: Nothing wrong with co-champions, ask KU
by Curtis Kitchen,posted Dec 2 2011 4:29PM
So, while Bob Stoops has been telling everyone who will listen that Oklahoma will view itself as the true Big 12 champion this year should it beat Oklahoma State, the debate over co-championships has raised some intense debate throughout the conference down to individual fan bases. It is a fascinating question that frankly, has no real answer.
Sure, the obvious answer would appear to be Oklahoma will have earned that right based on head-to-head matchups. The Sooners will have blown out Kansas State and toppled the Cowboys, which, for some including Stoops, is the only needed separated factor.
"That's how I've always looked at it," Stoops said during Monday's Big 12 coaches' teleconference. "It's not like we haven't played each other. In our eyes, there'll be one (conference champion). That's just how I see it. Again, I don't know any other way to look at it. If you're all going to play each other it pretty well sets up that way."
Stoops' answer sets up and then tears down his own argument.
True, everyone has played each other. True again, OU beat two teams it tied with record-wise. However, if Stoops, and those who agree with him, want to use the "everyone played everyone" argument, one serious fact remains. Out that of the three potential co-champs, Oklahoma had the worst loss by inexplicably dropping a game to 5-7 Texas Tech. At that point, K-State could make a case (as silly as it sounds) that since it had the two "best" losses, to OU and OSU, it should be champion. Oklahoma State would actually be second with its losses to OU and Iowa State.
It would become a case of best wins versus worst losses, which would only further muddy the waters. None of it makes a lot of sense, does it?
Personally, I see the race this way: all three traveled the same route over the same amount of time. Despite some individually bad obstacles, all three have the potential to cross the line at the same time. In other words, by definition, it would be a tie.
In terms of celebrating it? Absolutely. All three schools should because history has a way of making us forget how a championship was actually won. Nobody pays attention to how the banner was hung. Just ask Kansas about its impressive streak of seven straight Big 12 regular season championships in basketball. Aside from a dedicated few who do their best to ressurect history, no one really bothers to remember that of those seven titles, KU tied three times: with Oklahoma in 2004-05, and Texas twice (2005-06, 2007-08).
There is a slight difference in that example, of course, in that it wasn't a true round-robin. Does it matter? Not really. Not when the point is discussing whether a co-champion truly exists. I think it can, and should, until a system is put into place where wins are somehow weighted. For now, every win and every loss, counts the same. Sorry, Bob.
Of course, the Cowboys could make all of this a moot discussion just by beating the Sooners and claiming the Big 12 Championship outright. It would be clean, but clean just doesn't seem to be the Big 12's style then, does it?