Who knew that when the Big 12 only added TCU and West Virginia more than a decade ago that they’re non-divisional format would become the way of the future in college football?
The Big 12 was on to something.
Meeting this week to discuss various issues, including NIL, the NCAA oversight committee recommended the removal of the divisional format required for conferences with 12 or more teams. The provision would allow conferences to pit their top two teams from the regular season against each other in the conference championship game. It would help conferences avoid what went down in the 2021 season in the Big 10.
Because of the divisional format, the Big 10 championship game featured No. 3 Michigan and No. 12 Iowa. While Iowa was a deserving team, winning the Big 10 West, it left No. 7 Ohio State home to watch. While it could have hurt the Big 10’s chances of getting someone into the playoff if the two-loss Buckeyes had given Michigan a second loss, in other years, having Michigan and Ohio State play twice 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 went into the SEC championship game and handed No. 1 Georgia its first loss of the season. The two highly-ranked teams were sitting there with one loss, and both were admitted into the College Football Playoff. Though it was played in a divisional format, removing divisions could allow a team to redeem a loss earlier in the season from a divisional foe.
Had Ohio State had just the one loss to Michigan and was able to redeem the loss in the Big 10 title game, there could have been a situation where both teams made the College Football Playoff.
Removing championship game guardrails is considered noncontroversial and will likely be rubber stamped, giving conferences additional flexibility in approving new ways to crown a champion. Most notably, the change would allow conferences to eliminate divisions, an idea that has grown in popularity in recent years. – Shehan Jeyarajah, CBS Sports
The Big 12 hasn’t had divisions since the last wave of realignment that watched Texas A&M, Missouri, Colorado, and Nebraska walk. It had its issues when there wasn’t a championship game, like the season when TCU and Baylor finished tied atop the conference and the Big 12 crowned co-champions. It kept both teams out of the College Football Playoff.
Since reinstating the conference title game, though, the Big 12 has been a fun race through the conference season. The race for the Big 12 title game has gone down to the final week of the season, creating more intrigue for the league.
The Big 12 looks to be heading to a 14-team league in 2023 before Texas and Oklahoma move to the SEC. Allowing the conferences to remain division-less makes a lot of sense for a conference that will have to figure out scheduling with a team in Orlando, Fla. and one in Provo, Utah.
When the Sooners and Longhorns move to the SEC, creating a 16-team conference, removing the divisional format could create some exciting scheduling options and will make the race for the title game even more intriguing.
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