There is an interesting article on ESPN today about divisions in college football. Worth a read. I personally hate divisions and love that someone else has spoken on the issue. If the proposed NCAA legislation for de-regulating conference championships goes through, we may see divisions go away and schedules change dramatically.
As it stands, in order to have a conference championship game, a conference is required by the NCAA to have two divisions and to pit the two divisional winners against each other. Conferences are free to determine tie-breakers however they would like. This is a problem in many leagues where the two best teams are usually in the same division. It’s also a problem for the 10-team Big 12 since they are required to have 12 teams in order to form divisions. Thus they cannot stage a conference championship at this time.
I hope the de-regulation gets through. I think each conference should stage a championship game. People complain about rematches though. So what? In basketball they play each other multiple times in a season. The conference tournament always features a rematch. It’s not a big deal.
So what would be the ideal situation? Ideally the divisions go away. Each team in each conference then gets 2 permanent rivals. They play the other teams in their conference on an alternating schedule. You get 4 home games and 4 away games in conference. Those conferences that have 9 games require one to be at a neutral field. Pretty simple. But how would it work? Let’s look at the Pac-12 conference.
Washington- 2 rivals: Washington State, Oregon State
Washington State- 2 rivals: Washington, Oregon
Oregon- 2 rivals: Oregon State, Washington State
Oregon State- 2 rivals: Oregon, Washington
Stanford- 2 rivals: Cal, Utah
Cal- 2 rivals: Stanford, Colorado
Utah- 2 rivals: Colorado, Stanford
Colorado- 2 rivals: Utah, Cal
USC- 2 rivals: UCLA, Arizona State
UCLA- 2 rivals: USC, Arizona
Arizona- 2 rivals: Arizona State, USC
Arizona State- 2 rivals: Arizona, UCLA
You get one rival at home and one on the road each season. Now of the 9 remaining teams, you play 7 of them. 3 are at home, 3 are on the road, 1 is at a neutral site. You never miss the same 2 teams in consecutive years. This isn’t difficult for a scheduler to do here.
Now at the end of the season you take the two teams with the best conference records and have them play in the conference championship. Have a 3-way tie? Go to head to head games. Still tied? Go to the College Football Playoff rankings. You can figure it out.
Now imagine the SEC, Big Ten, Big 12 and ACC adopted this model as well. You are guaranteed games against two rivals every year. You are guaranteed to play everyone at least every other year. You are guaranteed to get the two best teams from each conference in their championship game. Last year TCU would have played Baylor again. Alabama would have played Mississippi State instead of Missouri. It would have been great.
This would make college football better for everyone. Let’s hope the legislation passes and conference adopt this model soon.