Fixing College Football, Part I of ?: Doing Away With Divisions
Divisions in Power 5 conferences are stupid. There, I said it.
At a time where revenues are such that all away games, with few exceptions, call for chartered flights, I don’t buy the monetary concern. When preserving the ‘sanctity’ of a Georgia/Kentucky or Mississippi State/LSU rivalry, I don’t care. And following another season similar to the last few, where:
- The SEC East is a complete dumpster fire, where 5 West teams could have easily won it.
- Clemson and Florida State carry the crown for the ACC and play in the same division.
- Ohio State, Michigan, and Penn State (and Michigan State, until 2016) play in the same division because of geography, and THAT’S A BETTER SYSTEM THAN THE ONE THEY HAD IN PLACE!
I’m adapting from a model Bill Connelly posited on SBNation this summer, because its a fascinating thought exercise, and it makes too much sense. In it:
- The Pac-12, with divisions and a 9-game schedule, is fine for now.
- The Big XII, jumbled mess as it is, has a round-robin (and a conference championship game starting next year, because SPORTS).
For the three fourteen-team conferences, division play doesn’t work. Unless you look forward to Georgia’s FIRST trip to conference rival Texas A&M during the end of Trump’s second term. Or your next trip to the Grove in 2029.
I’m not down for that. I’m not down for watching the Missouris and Floridas of the world get PASTED in the SEC Championship. I (Bill C first) want the following: keep an eight-game schedule, with three annual rivals and a rotation through the other 10 teams on a semiannual basis. Meaning, instead of going Mark Richt’s whole tenure before playing an SEC West opponent twice, you play a home-and-home with everyone every four years.
I’ll workshop this for all 42 teams involved below, but an example of what this would look like for Georgia:
Primary rivals: Auburn, Florida, South Carolina
Year 1: Alabama, at Kentucky, Ole Miss, at Missouri, Vanderbilt
Year 2: at Arkansas, LSU, at Mississippi State, Tennessee, at Texas A&M
Done in four-year cycles, one could even adapt years 3 and 4 from the first two to account for random shifts in competitive balance. Perhaps pair off each team for their non-rivals, so Kentucky doesn’t draw Alabama and Auburn, Mizzou doesn’t draw Georgia and Florida, etc.
This is the best I could come up with from a “PRESERVE OUR RIVALRIES!” perspective (and this may match Connelly verbatim, but I’m not checking):
|LSU||Texas A&M||Miss State||Arkansas|
|Mississippi State||Ole Miss||LSU||Auburn|
Some thoughts: South Carolina and Kentucky were SUPER hard to place. Kentucky gets, from a historical perspective, the easiest three games of anyone. Off the top of my head, there are no major rivalries that go unprotected, with the exception of Alabama/LSU (a more recent one, anyway).
The biggest misses? Tennessee/Kentucky, as Kentucky gets screwed out of the one game they get really worked up about. Bama/LSU, obviously.
I’d give myself a 10/10 for this. A&M, Arkansas, Mizzou, and LSU all preserve their regional rivalries. South Carolina, Tennessee, Georgia, and Florida all keep many of theirs. Vanderbilt/Ole Miss in the Khaki Bowl is still an annual event. Bama maintains history with Tennessee and Ole Miss, in addition to (obviously) Auburn.
If you don’t care about the ACC, you can stop reading now. Tried to draw it up there as well, but it is MUCH harder with the four North Carolina schools and the ‘old vs. new’ mentality that persists behind the scenes:
|Clemson||Georgia Tech||N.C. State||BC|
|Duke||North Carolina||Wake Forest||Louisville|
|Florida State||Miami||Wake Forest||N.C. State|
|Miami||Florida St.||Georgia Tech||Syracuse|
|North Carolina||Duke||N.C. State||Virginia|
|N.C. State||North Carolina||Clemson||Florida State|
|Virginia||Virginia Tech||North Carolina||Georgia Tech|
|Virginia Tech||Virginia||Louisville||Wake Forest|
|Wake Forest||Duke||Florida State||Virginia Tech|
This was friggin’ impossible. So many games that don’t make sense, especially for the Florida schools and the Northern schools, who would indubitably want games in the fertile Florida recruiting grounds.
Competitive balance, as it stands now, is a problem. N.C. State gets hosed, while UNC, Virginia Tech, and Pitt get relatively easy runs. I thought I’d be able to place Miami with more than one old Big East rival, but no dice.
For the B1G, I quit because I don’t care. But they need it worse than anyone else.
What do you think? Should we do away with divisions in order to make the conference feel like a conference again? Did I blow it on any rivalries?
Posted on January 18, 2017, in ACC, Alabama, Arkansas, Auburn, Blog, Clemson, Duke, Florida Gators, Florida State, Georgia Bulldogs, Georgia Tech, Kentucky, Louisville, LSU, Mississippi State, Missouri, NC State, North Carolina, Ole Miss, SEC, South Carolina Gamecocks, Tennessee, Texas A&M, Vanderbilt, Virginia Tech. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.