FRISCO, Texas --\u00a0Now 12 years removed from producing its last football national champion, the Big 12 remains on drought alert.\r\nCommissioner Bob Bowlsby never believed his conference was psychologically disadvantaged, or under-membered, or downright soft. But July 17, you could sense him retracing that double-overtime in Pasadena where Oklahoma suffered the granddaddy of all cave-ins.\r\n\u201cI think Oklahoma last year was every bit good enough to win the national championship,\u201d he said. \u201cA break here or there and it could\u2019ve gone different at the Rose Bowl. Then, watching the championship game, they were certainly good enough to play in the game and be successful. But at that level, it\u2019s a fine line between winning and losing.\u201d\r\nLosing a 54-48 national semifinal to the team that subsequently lost the championship game in overtime itself can support fair extrapolation. It\u2019s just that Bowlsby would rather tout trophies than near-misses.\r\n\u201cYou\u2019ve got to go win,\u201d he said.\r\nThat 5-3 bowl record, while second-best among the Power 5 conferences, feels like a footnote in a sport remembered for confetti-covered podiums. What\u2019s worse, the Big 12 hasn\u2019t advanced a team to the national championship game since Texas lost to Alabama in 2009.\r\nLeft out of the college football playoffs twice in four seasons, the Big 12 at least feels vindicated by Oklahoma\u2019s two inclusions. And imagine the different discussion we\u2019d be having if TCU had gotten the playoff committee\u2019s endorsement in 2014. Or if Oklahoma State\u2019s league title in 2011 carried more weight than Alabama\u2019s runner-up finish in the SEC West.\r\nThat\u2019s where perception matters, and the humans who gatekeep the playoffs can\u2019t unlearn what history has informed them.\r\nOklahoma possesses the pedigree to stake a claim to postseason spots \u2014 as in, any one-loss Sooners team is more likely than not to reach the CFP. Same goes for Texas should it ever escape its middling ways. Beyond those two, the number of current Big 12 members to finish a season in the AP top five \u2014 ever \u2014 is shallow.\r\nOklahoma State did it in 2011 and way back in 1945, as an MVC member. TCU cracked the end-of-season top five in 2014, as a Mountain West member in 2010, and won the AP crown in 1938, out of the Southwest Conference.\r\nWVU did it once, in 2005.\r\nThat\u2019s the list. In its entirety.\r\nMoney isn\u2019t a worry, not when the league recently doled out $36.5 million to each school. No, this is about chest-pounding more than check-writing. Hard for a conference to talk smack about being near the top if it rarely produces a top dog.\r\nThe league remedied its 13th data point deficiency with last season\u2019s league championship game \u2014 a money-making, exposure-grabbing addition that Bowlsby termed an \u201cunqualified success.\u201d TCU coach Gary Patterson agreed, even though losing in Arlington knocked his team out of a New Year\u2019s Six bowl.\r\nThere\u2019s also the possibility the Big 12 is becoming too top-heavy, with the Sooners going 26-2 the last three seasons in league play. They\u2019re the overwhelming favorites to four-peat.\r\n\u201cThey got 46 first-place votes (out of 52), and they deserve to be picked to win our league,\u201d the commish says. \u201cBut it\u2019s a long way to November.\u201d\r\nAnd even longer until January, when in a flash, something like a blocked field goal attempt in double-OT can make or break a league\u2019s reputation.