Texas wins all-sports title … barely

Texas won the Big 12 all-sports championship for the just completed season. But, it took a lean at the finish line by Bevo to hold off Texas A&M.

The rankings, as compiled by Iowa State Athletics, are based upon regular-season conference standings in 21 sports.

Baseball is the final sport to conclude its regular season and, fittingly, the Longhorns and Aggies tied for the title. Had A&M finished ahead of Texas in the baseball standings (instead of the tie), they ‘d be celebrating the Big 12 all-sports title in College Station.

That is a photo finish.

Iowa State placed ninth, ahead of K-State, Colorado and Kansas. Iowa State’s best-ever finish is eighth (in the first year of Big 12 and last season).

Seven Iowa State sports finished in the first division of the league standings this year. The Wildcats, Buffaloes and Jayhawks combined to produce only eight first-division finishers.

Three Cyclone women’s teams (cross country, golf and volleyball) either set of tied their all-time best league finish in 2010-11.

After finishing dead last in the Big 12 all-sports standings seven times in eight years (between 2002-09), the Cyclones have improved the last two years.

It will be worth watching to see if ISU’s trend of improvement continues next fall.

Reader feedback is welcome at 2minutetimeout@iastate.edu. You can also follow me on Twitter at: twitter.com/SteveMalchow

Changing league landscapes … Big 12 benefits most

Continuity gives us roots; change gives us branches, which allow us to stretch and grow and reach new heights ~ Pauline Kezer

The world hates change and yet change is the only thing that brings progress ~ Charles Kettering

Beginning this fall, the college athletics landscape at the Bowl Championship Series level will have a different look.

After last year’s re-alignment movements, the final ledger shows that the:
– Big 12 scrapped its division format for football and reduced its membership by two;
– Big Ten added divisions (yes, Leaders & Legends) after accepting Nebraska;
– Pac-10 (now 12) is splitting its divisions geographically after adding Colorado and Utah;
– Big East will welcome TCU beginning in 2012.

I think the changes in the Big 12 are the most positive for a strong future because of its round robin scheduling in nearly every sport and its decent regional proximity. 

The SEC annually misses match-ups between some college football heavyweights because a 12-team league can’t support a "play everyone model". Additionally, all conferences with a title game are susceptible to a rematch from the regular season. The second game is always better, right?

It’s similar in the Big Ten and Pac-12.

Is it good that Wisconsin and Iowa – whose football series is evenly split (42-42-2) and has been played for 72 of the last 74 years – suddenly lose an annual border rivalry on the gridiron?

Is it a positive that the Pac-10 loses its simplistic symmetry (two schools from Washington, Oregon, Arizona, Los Angeles and California) at the expense of adding the Buffs and Utes? It, too, is adopting an unbalanced schedule.

Then, there is the regional angle.

For several years now, the ACC has stretched 1,505 miles from Boston to Miami. Before you point out ISU’s northern geography, consider that its four Texas league partners are roughly 900 miles away from Ames. The ACC has become a region, not a tight knit group centered around the research triangle.

TCU grouped with UConn, Rutgers, Syracuse, Villanova, Providence, DePaul, Notre Dame … you can decide.

As the quotes at the top of this column say, change is a catalyst for growth and progress. The future of the Big 12 is promising and its positive changes are the reason why.

Email feedback is welcome at 2minutetimeout@iastate.edu. You can also follow me at: twitter.com/SteveMalchow