If the 10-team Big 12 harbors any hope of cutting into that breakneck championship pace set by our neighbors to the east, then here are three things it should do to return this conference to national prominence.
1. Start a good scandal.
There’s nothing like crossing over into the news cycle to get people talking about your conference. The SEC has the market on that technique. That Johnny Manziel autograph flap? Pure genius. The Aggies have dominated the headlines for most of the summer. That came a year after Arkansas fired head coach Bobby Petrino when he got caught motorcycling without a helmet — or his wife. Bad news travels faster and sells more tickets to boot. Take notes, Big 12.
2. Talk some smack.
Oklahoma’s Bob Stoops went on the offensive when he said half of the 14 teams in the SEC haven’t done much while the conference was winning seven straight national titles. Mack Brown took what could be a construed as a shot at Manziel when he said David Ash had been a “great counselor” at the Manning Passing Academy. Who will be next to step up? Anyone want to take on the Ol’ Ball Coach in South Carolina? Trash talk builds anticipation toward future confrontations and sends the message that the Big 12 isn’t scared.
3. Play their best. And beat them.
I’m not talking about Texas-Ole Miss. I’m talking Texas-Florida or Oklahoma-Alabama. This new playoff format will hopefully show respect regarding strength of schedule, and you know the only way to get respect is to earn it. We’ll get an annual taste starting with the Champions Bowl on Jan. 1, 2015 in New Orleans, but let’s not allow that to be the only marquee game featuring the best of both leagues.