It is a rare day when college football coaches and the news media covering them are in full agreement.
That was nearly the case this week when the Associated Press (media) and USA Today (coaches) released their college football polls.
The Top 15 schools in each poll mirror one another at every slot but two. The media says Auburn is No. 6 and Michigan State eighth. The coaches flip-flopped those schools. That is the only difference.
What that also means is that the news media and coaches agree that the Big 12 is very strong.
Half of the 10 schools in the Big 12 are included in the To 15 of both national polls. The Big Ten, Pac-12 and ACC have a combined four schools in the Top 15. Like the Big 12, the SEC checks in with five (36% of its membership) schools in the Top 15 and each of them is in the Top 10.
“Every game in this league (the Big 12) is on a national stage and a great opportunity,” Iowa State’s Paul Rhoads said. “You’re talking about a league that has half of its football teams in the Top 15 in the country. That’s a pretty impressive number.”
The College Football Playoff committee, however, has repeatedly stated that it would rank teams according to performance against their own schedules.
Overall conference strength isn’t a major factor since every conference (except for the Big 12 and its round-robin schedule) has unbalanced scheduling. Some of the elite teams don’t face one another.
When everybody plays everybody (the Big 12’s tagline) and the quality of the conference is good (the Big 12’s reality this season), it’s very likely that whoever emerges from the league as its champion will have a strong case for playoff inclusion.
Who knows, a couple of Big 12 teams may get a serious look?