|Marvin Fong, The Plain Dealer|
Many believed the Big 12 deserved a representative in either the Baylor Bears or the TCU Horned Frogs whom (at the time) were also 1-loss teams. There's no question that if the Big 12 had had a conference title game, one of these two teams would have made the playoffs and Ohio State (Big 10 champions) would have been left out. But the Big 12, with no conference title game, declared them co-champions and the only solution was to keep them both out in order to avoid a major controversy within the Big 12. Ohio State was the safe choice, in other words.
As it turned out, Baylor lost a thriller in the Cotton Bowl to Michigan State (Big 10), 42-41, thus eliminating themselves from the conversation. TCU, however, crushed Mississippi in the Peach Bowl, 42-3, preserving their 1-loss season. That left them with the same (1-loss) record as Ohio State thus creating the first-ever controversy in the "playoff" era. The chant of "We Wuz Robbed" was heard all over Horned Frogs Nation!
But in the end, Ohio State's unbelievable run to the national title was HUGE for the new playoff system because it justified their representation and helped the system as a whole DODGE a major bullet. Had Ohio State not performed well, the controversy would have been even bigger! No doubt!