Destroying the divisions to save the schedules

I know most of the attention that’s gone the Big Ten’s way over its new divisional realignment has come in the form of mockery over abandoning Delany’s stupid “Legends” and “Leaders” nomenclature, but the real story for me as how that league has managed in a fairly short period to blow up some of its traditional rivalries, while preserving others.  It’s a real case study.

To catch you up, the Big Ten announced it’s going to a nine-game conference schedule in a couple of years.  In the meantime, the new conference schedule calls for two cross-divisional games, both of which will be scheduled on a rotating basis.  When the league goes to nine games in 2016, the cross-division schedule will increase to three, but all the games will continue to be scheduled on rotation, except for one rivalry game, between Indiana and Purdue, that will be protected.

The conference managed to protect some longstanding rivalries on an annual basis, like Wisconsin/Minnesota and Michigan/Ohio State, by putting those schools in the same division – so much for trying to grease the skids for that special matchup in the conference championship – but the oldest trophy rivalry is gone, and so are a few others.  (But, hey, welcome back one!)

I’m not saying there are any big lessons to be learned here.  There’s no way to please everyone as you go from a round-robin arrangement to a cross-divisional one.  And Delany has chosen the particularly messy course of division re-jiggering with this last round, as opposed to what the SEC did.  But it could have been worse.

Which has me wondering – could the SEC do something similar that would work?

You’d have to put the two Mississippi schools in the same division, maybe along with Arkansas, TAMU and Missouri, none of which have any historical rivalries with SEC teams, but do at least have geographic cohesiveness and some historical common ties.  The reason you’d have to do that on one side is because you’d have to put Alabama in the same division with its two oldest rivals, Auburn and Tennessee, which in turn would require Georgia’s presence for Auburn and then Florida would have to be a part of it for the Cocktail Party.  Vanderbilt would go along with Tennessee and that puts you at six teams.

That leaves Kentucky, LSU and South Carolina left to sort out in the mix.  I’ll leave you to take that where each needs to go, but the bottom line is that by moving the two Alabama schools eastwards, the conference could save a bunch of rivalry games and still get the benefit of rotating the cross-divisional ones.  It sure makes staying with an eight-game conference schedule more palatable.

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43 Comments

Filed under Big Ten Football, SEC Football

43 responses to “Destroying the divisions to save the schedules

  1. The other doug

    Here ya go:
    Add two western teams like Oklahoma and Oklahoma State.
    Move Bama and Auburn to the East
    Move Mizzou to the west

    • Signal Mtn Dawg

      Here is a great solution I saw posted months ago:
      1. Expand to 16 teams. (For the sake of this comment, NC State and Va Tech).
      2. Divide into 4 divisions:
      – D1, FL, UGA, USCE, NCST
      -D2, TN, VT, VANDY, KY
      – D3, AL, AU, OM, MSU
      - D4, AR, LSU, MO, TAMU
      3. 8 game conference schedule
      4. Each team has 1 permanent opponent and an alternate permanent opponent that can not be in your division or permanent opponents division.
      – example, UGA will have Auburn then KY.
      5. Each division will play the other division on a home and home 2 year schedule, or each each division will play each division on a 1 year rotation so that a player has the opportunity to play all schools in 4 years.
      6. You play your permanent opponent each year. Whhen you play your permanent opponents division, you play your alternative opponent that is in a division your are not playing that year.
      7. Winner ofthe two meeting divisions go to sec title game.

      Works well and keeps rivalries alive including ooc rivalries, keeps an 8 game league schedule.

      E
      What do you think?

  2. Go Dawgs!

    Plus, Alabama wouldn’t have to face Texas A&M every year, which would undoubtedly make them happy.

  3. UFTimmy

    Well, Kentucky has played Tennessee, and UF a bunch of times in a row, even before expansion, so I think they’d have to go in the East.

    LSU is one of UF’s longest standing rivalries, so they’d need to go East too. Not that I view them in the same was as any of the other UF rivalries. And that’s way too much power in the East.

    South Carolina is one of my favorite series, but there’s no long history there. Of course, how much sense does it make to put them in the West?

    • LSU doesn’t view itself as one of UF’s rivals, at least going by what Miles and Alleva have said.

      South Carolina makes as much geographic sense in the West as Missouri does in the East.

      • Cojones

        Did you think up those placements yourself or did they get gleaned from conversations? Either way, good reasoning and the obvious opening of keeping SC in the East was left for us to see if we understood your realignment.

        Serious question: Why not continue on to nine games, not as some toady emulating Delany, but just fan reasoning? Realighning for an 8-game conference is wasted time and energy if you haven’t arrived at the end of your game-jiggering by deciding for a 9- game schedule and not realighning.

        Nice try, tho.

        • Serious question: Why not continue on to nine games, not as some toady emulating Delany, but just fan reasoning? Realighning for an 8-game conference is wasted time and energy if you haven’t arrived at the end of your game-jiggering by deciding for a 9- game schedule and not realighning.

          Who says the SEC is prepared to do either right now?

  4. stoopnagle

    Move Vandy to the West (Nashville is, afterall in the Central Time Zone) along with Mizzou.

    Move Bama and Auburn to the East.

    Viola.

  5. PTC DAWG

    We could play the other 6 teams every 3 years as it is right now. Why do they have to be played home/away in back to back years?

  6. The984

    I’ve seen a proposal before that gets rid of divisions completely and sends the teams with the two best records to the championship game. Each team would have like three or four protected games, and the rest would rotate. It would be closer to the old pre-1992 SEC scheduling method but with a championship game tacked on.

    I know it would require a rule change by the NCAA (have to have divisions of equal numbers to have a championship game (although the MAC already violates that with a 6 and 7 setup)), and there might be a chance for a three-way undefeated tie at the top (not totally sure about that).

    Fourteen is just a stupid number. It makes for headaches like this.

    • Mayor of Dawgtown

      With a 12 game regular season having a 9 game conference schedule with a 10 team conference is perfect. Everybody plays everybody else every year. I say kick the 4 new interlopers out and play a round robin schedule each year. That’s the only way to determine a true conference champion. Will that happen? Not on your life! $$$$$$$ get in the way.

  7. Cosmic Dawg

    Definitely KY and LSU to the west. LSU doesn’t have any longstanding in-conference rivalries where they trade an old iron boot or something, right? I don’t know how Kentucky fans would feel about losing Tennessee, that seems like a bit of a rivalry, but feels more like Georgia-South Carolina – we could live with losing it annually, although we wouldn’t want to lose it permanently.

    Also, could teams voluntarily keep their “rivalries” with cross divisional teams simply by scheduling them as a ninth game, but one that would still count as a conference game if they chose to keep it?

    Kentucky football fans are not quite as feverish as the rest of us, they’d be okay with that – they could use a somewhat easier slate of competition anyway, and Miles has also said he’d like to play a weaker schedule, so everybody gets something.

    The main loss to me would be that we would truly be in a serious slugfest for the division east title every year, but right now Auburn, Tennessee, and even Florida (pundits notwithstanding) are not looking like their old selves. I’d say either Mississippi team or LSU would have a good shot of beating any of those three this year, + TAMU. The SEC west in that scenario would hardly be a “weak” CFB division.

    I am against any more SEC expansion, but if we do expand again I want to go all the way to sixteen teams w/ four divisions and have a playoff (our “ninth” game) so we have a shot at the SECCG. A seven-team division has no charm for me.

  8. Bulldog Joe

    The Big Ten welcomes back the great Penn State – Maryland rivalry. Penn State leads the series 35-1-1.

    Set your DVRs for the Big Ten Network!

  9. Skeptic Dawg

    The SEC “brain trust” is in the process of lulling fans into a state of I Do Not Care. They are screwing this schedule thing to death. They still do not have a schedule for 2014. Are they waiting for the playoff requirements? Are they holding out for TV money? Or are they just plain dumb? Come up with a scheduling format that works already. Put the coaches and AD’s in a locked room until they come up with a solution. I know this is no easy task with so many potential roadblocks (The Cocktail Party, Bama/Tennessee etc), but get it done. At this point I am willing to lose Jax for the sake of scheduling. I just have not faith that Slive and Co. are up to the task. This too will be a cluster.

  10. Bulldog Joe

    The Big Ten West: Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, Northwestern, Purdue and Wisconsin (who just lost their head coach).

    Nebraska fans might as well book their tickets to the Big Ten championship game now.

    • Cojones

      Wisconsin didn’t lose their hard-nosed team. They still can kick some Cornhusker butt. Purdue is returning to it’s old kickass ways. Neither of those teams will just hand it to Neb.

      • Bulldog Joe

        Wisky lost their stud RB and most of their OL off an 8-6 team. Bielema knew when to bolt. Purdue finished with a kickass 6-7 record.

        I like Nebraska’s chances.

  11. DugLite

    Add two more teams to the conference. Assume Ok & Ok St. Break into four 4 team divisions
    NORTH TENN, ALA, AUB, VANDY
    SOUTH LSU, ARK, OK ST, MISS ST
    EAST UGA, FL, SC, KY
    WEST TAMU, MIZZ, OK, MISS
    Play everyone in your division. One permanent lock in each division. Rotate through the other three teams in each division. Two best records play for the SECCG.

    • Cojones

      Who the hell is N. Tenn, S. LSU, E.UGA and W.TAMU? These new directional schools sound like islands in the S. Pac.

    • The984

      Or you have four pods like that, but then you make new divisions each year by combining two pods. Each team has a protected out-of-pod rivalry that they play every year and a secondary out-of-pod rivalry for those years when the primary is in the same division. Rotate through the match ups each year. You play every single team in three years (home and home every six). Two division winners play in the championship game.

  12. Debby Balcer

    LSU / ARK is a rivalry game.

    • Not a long-standing one, although there is a trophy for it.

      • Cojones

        They were when Ark was in the Big-12, weren’t they? Wouldn’t that be long-standing?

      • Debby Balcer

        I thought they had played when ARK was in the SWC. My dad is from ARK and as a kid I followed them. We were a military family so we never lived where you could see them on tv. I have family who the ARK/LSU game is important to but most really miss the old days of their big rival being TX.

        • Cojones

          Thank you, Debby. The older brain synapses just don’t perform when recalling the SWC. My bad.

          Restated: Weren’t they rivals for many years in the SWC?

        • I had to go look it up. The two played annually until the mid-30′s, dropped the series except for a brief renewal in the mid-50′s and then picked it up again when Arky joined the SEC.

  13. Ted

    Just a note for accuracy – Michigan and Minnesota weren’t playing annually before conference expansion (well, after Penn State joined), so that wasn’t really a change from pre-Legends division scheduling format (2011-14).

  14. eagledawg

    Yeah, I think Les Miles would be happy, happy, happy to have a division that included Mizzou, A&M, the Misses, Arky and either Vandy or KY.

    Why doesn’t the SEC East simply add Bama and Auburn and secede from the SEC?

  15. Bulldog Joe

    Now that “Leaders and Legends” is now a, uh, legend, how long does the ACC hold on to the asinine Atlantic and Coastal Divisions.

    Many years later, it is still difficult to remember which is which.

  16. gatorhater27

    An Alabama, Auburn, Florida, UGA, SC, Tennessee, and Vanderbilt would be a brutal division. No need to even play a MNC game; just give it to whoever comes out of that alive.

  17. A 6-1-2 with one permanent cross-division rival would work for SEC “North and South Divisions” and would make as much or more sense as East and West:

    (matched with cross-division rivals)

    North South

    Missouri Texas A&M
    Arksansas LSU
    Ole Miss Mississippi State
    Tennessee South Carolina
    Alabama Florida
    Auburn Georgia
    Kentucky Vanderbilt

    Not only does this preserve the WLOCP, Auburn-Georgia and Bama-Tennessee, but every in-state rivalry except UT-Vandy (and UT-Vandy could be saved if South Carolina/Kentucky were permanent cross-division rivals though competively SC-UT makes more sense),

    It also gives back some fan-favorite series like Geogia-Ole Miss, Tennessee-Auburn, and Florida-LSU.

    It doesn’t allow for an annual Ole-Miss-LSU, though – that may bother some purists. It does, however, continue UK-Tennessee as a historic rival, and keeps relatively new series-of-interest (UGA-UT, UGA-USC, Arkansas-LSU) intact.