Now that the regular season is over and college football is set to stagger through its bowl games, Texas fans are left looking forward to a ceremonial nightcap to the season, and wondering about their future in a conference that can't figure out a way to declare a singular victor.
Texas will take on Bret Bielema's Arkansas Razorbacks in the AdvoCare Texas Bowl Dec. 29 in Houston. Both programs finished 6-6 in difficult conferences, and they each have forceful coaches in the process of rebuilding once-strong programs.
The Razorbacks are solid. They beat LSU and Ole Miss, and lost by a combined eight points to Mississippi State and Alabama. They've opened up as five-point favorites despite playing what amounts to an away game in the Bayou City. The Longhorns didn't get the rivalry matchup against A&M many wanted (self included), but they still face a tough team that probably could have won eight or nine games had they played out Texas' schedule.
Otherwise, it was a rough week for the Big 12 in general. The conference that promised to crown "one true champion" ended up giving out two trophies (to Baylor and TCU), and may have ended up canceling themselves out of the national playoff matrix. The Bears and Horned Frogs split each other's votes, and gave the College Football Playoff committee an easy out to select the winners of the ACC, SEC, Pac-12, and Big 10.
The Big 12's decision to split the title leaves Longhorn fans wondering if, years down the line, Texas might be left on the outside looking in should they finish tied for first in future seasons. The short answer is that it's unlikely. Baylor and TCU were likely hurt by their smaller markets and regional appeals as much as they were by sharing their conference title. It's not fair, but if there's a three-way tie for fourth place, those deciding will likely go with the team that's drawing national interest and high ad revenues.
Ohio State will bring in casual football fans both inside the state and out. The people tuning in to watch Baylor or TCU play Oregon will still have the TV on for the Buckeyes. It would be hard to imagine a similar situation happening with Texas or Oklahoma. If there's one thing the networks hate more than turning away a worthy contender, it's turning away money.