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Guerin Emig: Big 12 bowl lesson: Better to go 5-0 and miss College Football Playoff than 0-6 and make half the CFP field

Guerin Emig: Big 12 bowl lesson: Better to go 5-0 and miss College Football Playoff than 0-6 and make half the CFP field

010521-tul-spt-emigblog Big12

Oklahoma defensive lineman Isaiah Thomas (95) flexes next to the Cotton Bowl Championships Trophy after Oklahoma's 55-20 win over Florida in the Goodyear Cotton Bowl at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas on Wednesday, Dec. 30, 2020.

The ACC put Clemson and 2020 add-in Notre Dame in the College Football Playoff, but went 0-6 over bowl season

The Big 12 missed out on the CFP altogether, but went 5-0 in bowls.

The ACC made a reported $12 million from the playoff. Revenue comes in pretty handy at a time like this.

The ACC made up half the CFP field. That draws a lot of attention, since the playoff overwhelms the rest of college football’s postseason.

Still, I’d rather be Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby than ACC poobah John Swofford right now. That’s an easy call.

Oklahoma won huge over an A-list SEC program in the Cotton Bowl. Iowa State won big over an A-list Pac-12 program in the Fiesta Bowl.

Oklahoma State held off Miami in the Cheez-It Bowl. The Cheez-It may not be a high-profile bowl game, but beating The U in any setting turns up a program’s Q rating.

Texas gobbled up Colorado in the Alamo Bowl. West Virginia rallied to beat Army in the Liberty Bowl.

There were some weird details among the five wins.

Everyone but Kyle Trask opted out of the Cotton Bowl, to hear Gators coach Dan Mullen tell it.

Oregon didn’t even win its Pac-12 Conference division, made the Pac-12 title game when Washington suffered a COVID-19 outbreak, then beat listless USC to earn a Fiesta bid.

Army scrambled to find a postseason taker. Miami lost D’Eriq King to a second-quarter torn ACL against OSU.

But aren’t we conditioned to weird by now? If any of this stuff had happened after a normal regular season, yeah, start with the asterisks.

This year? All anyone can do is show up with who they have and play the game at hand, bowl or not.

The Big 12 showed up for its five bowl games, then showed out.

The league needs OU, or Texas, ISU or OSU if they feel like helping the cause, in the playoff next year. As Bowlsby famously, if oddly, said at 2017 Big 12 Media Days: “We’re here to talk about football, and we didn’t make the College Football Playoff. Obviously, that’s the coin of the realm at this point.”

The Big 12 went 4-2 over the 2016 bowl season to take some of the sting out of Bowlsby’s recognized reality at the time. A 5-0 record is a much better balm this year.

The Big 12’s five-game sweep beats the ACC’s six-game skid by a considerable margin.

It would have been a closer call if Clemson and Notre Dame had made their playoff semifinals more competitive. Ask OU what the wrong end of a semifinal mismatch feels like.

Ask the Sooners if anyone appreciates, or even remembers, the accomplishment of making the playoff after a lopsided playoff loss.

The Tigers and Irish are doing damage control despite their regular-season excellence. That’s tough but fair in a sport where the playoff looms so large.

The CFP certainly overshadows the rest of the bowls, and yet there is no hiding for a conference that comes up 0-for-bowl season.

We have covered Clemson, Notre Dame and Miami. North Carolina and Wake Forest both lost by 14 points in the Orange and Duke’s Mayo Bowls respectively. North Carolina State fell to Kentucky in the Gator.

Six ACC swings, six ACC misses. Stinks to be Swofford, or to be Jim Phillips, the former Northwestern athletic director who replaces Swofford as ACC commissioner next month.

Swell to be Bowlsby.

The Big 12 commish is still right on. The playoff is where the sport’s fame and fortunes lie.

As long as you don’t lose infamously once there, that is.

Clemson and Notre Dame, like the rest of the ACC this bowl season, fell hard.

The five teams bowling on behalf of the Big 12 might have fallen short of the ultimate prize, but at least they picked themselves up and stood tall despite that.

View from the sidelines: OU vs. Florida in Cotton Bowl

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Sports Columnist

I'm the proud father of Gretchen and Holden. Devoted husband to Christy, who has been my best friend since biology class at Booker T. Washington. I covered the OU Sooners for 15 years. That was both challenging and rewarding. Now I get to write columns.

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