As everyone here is aware of now, the Big 12 was left out of the College Football Playoff picture entirely, with Alabama playing Ohio State in the Sugar Bowl, and Oregon playing Florida State in the Rose Bowl. Obviously, with my slight Big 12 bias, I was appalled that BOTH teams were left out of the playoffs, even if I could see it coming since Ohio State absolutely destroyed Wisconsin. And immediately I thought just how much of a raw deal this was for the Big 12.
The Big 12 has prided itself on the fact that everyone gets to play every other team in a round-robin schedule, and that doing so avoids the complaints of getting to a conference championship by beating up on a weak division and avoiding the heavyweights in the conference. The unintended consequence of everyone playing everyone else is that there is the very likely possibility that you have a tie atop the conference, as we saw this year. When there is no protocol in place to determine who gets crowned the "One True Champion" of the conference, the door is left open for everyone to treat the top teams of the conference however they see fit. While the assumption is that all teams tied at the top will be considered champions, it's also a very real possibility that none of those teams get treated like the champion of their league.
Keeping this in mind, it seems like the answer to this might simply be to come up with a way to always crown an actual champion through some sort of tiebreakers, and then to encourage your teams to schedule as many challenging games as possible. Under this sort of system, teams like Kansas face the nearly impossible road of facing every elite team in the league every year, and rebuilding under those circumstances will be extremely difficult.
But by denying the Big 12 a spot in the College Football, the committee (perhaps unintentionally) did KU a solid. In comments explaining their decision, they specifically cited how much playing in a conference championship game helped the schools that did make the playoffs. Essentially, they confirmed what we all suspected all along - that all else being equal, having an extra marquee game at the end of your schedule is a huge boost, and nearly impossible to overcome.
This message was so clear that Commissioner Bob Bowlsby has already talked publicly about considering the addition of schools to the conference, something that he denied as a real possibility as recently as a month ago since there didn't appear to be any options that could bring "pro-rata value" (about $25 million) to the conference. But now that the Big 12 is likely the low man on the totem pole, he can't afford to just sit around and wait for the playoffs to expand to get his teams in. He has to find a way to get a conference championship.
Right now he is putting together a request to get a waiver to allow the conference to play a championship game with just 10 teams. It will almost certainly get denied. That means that expansion is the only option he has, and there have already been rumors swirling about Memphis, Cincinnati and BYU joining the conference as early as next year.
And expansion is where this turns into a net positive for the Jayhawks. Add in two more teams and divisions, and all of a sudden Kansas doesn't have to play every tough team in the conference. With two more teams, the schedule likely drops to 8 conference games, so there is a better chance to schedule down to the types of opponents that will let us start to rebuild the program. 12 teams means that we are bringing in two programs that are likely around the level we are, or at least close enough that we have a chance to beat them from time to time. In all, adding two more teams to the Big 12 turns our schedule from an annual juggernaut into a chance to claw our way out of pit the program is currently in.