Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Fixing College Football: The Conferences

Here's where all hell would break loose. There's too much variability in the conferences. The Big East and Sun Belt have 8 teams, the WAC and MWC have 9, the Pac 10 has 10, the Big Ten inexplicably has 11, The SEC, ACC, Big XII, and C-USA have 12, the MAC has 13, and 4 schools think they're too good for a conference. In no way, shape, or form, does that add up to a fair coherent sum.

So here's what we do. We reconsolidate all the conferences into a single uniform model. But as you can see, we have 6 different models, and 120 teams to split up, so how do we do this?

The 8 team model is stable, and capable of having a true round robin be played within, it would require 14 conferences to be established, requiring 3 new conferences to be established. Doable, but a little messy.

The 9 team model still allows for a true round robin, however, it doesn't divide into the 120 teams, requiring either 3 teams to be dropped, or six teams absorbed.

The 10 team model fits nicely into a round robin, and would require 12 conferences, only one more than our current number. As of now, it's the cleanest solution.

The 11 team model doesn't fit into a round robin, and lop sided divisions would make a conference championship a dicey affair. Also, it would require either absorbing a team, or dropping ten teams, if we absorbed a team, it would leave us with an uneven number of conferences, further complicating matters. This goes to show that the Big Ten can screw up more than just National Championship games.

The 12 team model fits the conference championship game model well, and would require 10 conferences, only requiring us to dissolve one conference (Sun Belt, I'm looking at you...). It's another clean solution.

The MAC's 13 team model? All I can say about that is that they were almost certainly high on something when they cooked that one up.

This analysis narrows the choices down to either the 10 team round robin, or the 12 team conference championship method.

The conference championship games were established as a method for a conference to rake in more money by staging an extra game, resulting in millions of dollars in profits from tickets, merchandising, and TV rights. The downside is that by partitioning the conferences, you limit the number of in conference games that matter, and given the fluctuations of teams from year to year, one division might become significantly more difficult than another, as seen in the Big XII, where Oklahoma or Texas regularly crush whatever team meekly emerges from the Northern Division.

By the flip side, by narrowing the determine factor for the Championship to one game, you see some extreme fluctuations. The phrase "Any Given Sunday..." applied to the NFL, but here, it's "Any Given Saturday...". Over the course of multiple games, the best team will typically emerge by ironing out the statistical fluctuations. During one game, if the better team is caught on a bad day, essentially the rest of the season is immaterial. It's happened on multiple occasions in the SEC, Big XII, and ACC. This cannot be said of a round robin.

By playing a nine game round robin, a team can have a bad game and still prove themselves the superior team in the end. Nor can a weak team overachieve and embarrass their conference later on. The truth will out in the other eight games.

This is why the conferences will be overhauled as 12 10 team conferences, to ensure that the best teams make it to the playoff system that is our eventual goal.

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