NCAA proposes to remove divisional requirements
Who knew when the Big 12 only added TCU and West Virginia over a decade ago that their non-divisional format would become the way of the future in college football?
The Big 12 was onto something.
Meeting this week to discuss a variety of issues, including NIL, the NCAA Oversight Committee recommended removing the divisional format required for conferences with 12 or more teams. The provision would allow the conferences to pit their top two regular-season teams against each other in the conference championship game. It would help conferences avoid what happened in the 2021 season in the Big 10.
Due to the divisional format, the Big 10 championship game featured Michigan’s No. 3 and Iowa’s No. 12. While Iowa was a deserving team, winning the Big 10 West, it left home No. 7 Ohio State to watch. While it might have hurt the Big 10’s chances of having someone in the playoffs if the two-game losing Buckeyes handed Michigan a second loss, in other years having Michigan and Ohio State play two times could provide an avenue where both teams make the College Football Playoffs. Similar to what we saw in the SEC last season.
One-loss Alabama entered the SEC Championship Game and handed No. 1 Georgia its first loss of the season. The two top-ranked teams sat there with a loss, and both made it into the college football playoffs. Although it was played in a divisional format, dropping divisions could allow a team to redeem a loss earlier in the season to a divisional foe.
If Ohio State had only suffered one loss to Michigan and had been able to redeem the loss in the Big 10 title game, there could have been a situation where both teams would have participated in the college football playoffs.
Removing guardrails from championship games is considered non-controversial and will likely be approved, giving conferences additional flexibility to approve new ways to crown a champion. Most notably, the change would allow conferences to break down divisions, an idea that has gained popularity in recent years. – Shehan Jeyarajah, CBS Sports
The Big 12 hasn’t had a split since the last wave of realignment that saw Texas A&M, Missouri, Colorado and Nebraska walk. There were its issues when there was no championship game, like the season when TCU and Baylor finished tied for the top of the conference and crowned the Big 12 co-champions. This kept both teams out of the College Football Playoffs.
Since the reinstatement of conference title play, however, the Big 12 has been a fun ride all conference season. The race for the Big 12 title game dragged on until the last week of the season, creating more intrigue for the league.
The Big 12 appears to be heading for a 14-team league in 2023 before Texas and Oklahoma move to the SEC. Allowing conferences to remain undivided makes a lot of sense for a conference that will have to determine the lineup with one team in Orlando, Fla., and one in Provo, Utah.
When the Sooners and Longhorns move to the SEC, creating a 16-team conference, scrapping the divisional format could create exciting scheduling options and make the title race even more intriguing.
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