"The University of Illinois is also in turmoil. The university sports an Interim Chancellor, an Interim Athletic Director, and an Interim Football Coach; the game will be played at Soldier Field, making this an Illini Interim Home Game."
big ten divisions
It's was sunny and lovely out yesterday in Michigan. Sunday night's storm swept the humidity aside and deposited rain where it belongs: on my lawn. So why did it feel like that sun was a little darker, that sky a little hazier, this July a little less nice than the June that preceded it? Oh, right.
— Maryland Athletics (@umterps) June 30, 2014
It's official: our moms are forcing us to play with Scott Malkinson.
Why is this happening again? Well they're joining for the money: both schools have had relatively bad athletic departments who over-leveraged themselves in the big sport facility and coaching arms races, Rutgers less so than Maryland, but then Rutgers was about to wind up trapped in the sinking ship of the Big East/American. Maryland has massive debt from its building projects and the ACC ain't gonna pay them, so they were ready to whore themselves out to whichever conference came along, even if it meant an end to their relationship with Duke.
(No, Penn State fans don't care about either as rivals.)
The real question is why in the heck we'd want them. It's cable TV. Starting with the Big Ten, the big conferences have been getting in on the great scam of cable bundling. Cable providers have monopolies in their markets, and are second only to the military-industrial complex in political spending, all so they can force subscribers into all-or-nothing tiers of hundreds of channels to get one they want (and try to charge people extra to not get their internet slowed).
|Big Ten's Expansion Plan: rip off the cable companies after they rip off America. [Image credit: HuffPo]|
This works out very well for the cable giants but leaves them a particular vulnerability to any network with a sports license. Fiercely loyal college football fans will scream at their cable providers if they can't watch the game, and advertisers lust after sports because they're the last of the DVR-proof live events, so cable providers pay out the nose for the network with the game. Then they place that network on a relatively accessible tier that everybody in that market must pay for, and raise prices accordingly.
In this way, if there are just enough A&M fans in Dallas, every cable subscriber in Dallas will pay an extra $5/month to the SEC and its partner (ESPN). If there are just enough Missouri fans in St. Louis, if there just enough Maryland fans in D.C. metro area, if there are just enough Rutgers fans in New York City, etc. The Big Ten schools are gambling on there being enough Rutgers fans to scam $5/month from everyone in New York. So far they've already got New Jersey and Maryland.
The gamble for the schools is they think they'll sell out the stadiums no matter who's visiting, so who gives a damn if it's Maryland visiting instead of Wisconsin. The fans aren't going to see a dime of the Comcast deal (at least not at Michigan—most schools are a little less adversarial to their fans) and just have to decide to put up with the new faces, or not.
In the list of downsides, there are worse things that can happen than having Wisconsin disappear forever, or the invention of more derived, ugly trophies. So long as it ends with Ohio State and MSU is in there, it's a Michigan season, while any Notre Dame or Minnesota you can sprinkle in is appreciated. To put the loss in context I thought I'd look through Michigan's history with the conference with respect to the frequency we've faced various conference rivals.
A History of Western/Big Ten Conference Scheduling
Early years (1892-1906): Prior to the invention of the conference, Michigan already played some of its future rivals. They played Chicago twice in 1893 (both on the road), and even after joining the conference Michigan had an extra (non-conference) game against Chicago's med students.
|Hey, just 'cause we left you guys aren't supposed to be rivals. [Chicago vs. Minnesota in 1916.]|
There were seven teams in the original 1896 conference—Michigan, Wisconsin, Illinois, Minnesota, Northwestern, Purdue, and Chicago—with Indiana and Iowa joining in 1899. Teams customarily only played games in October and November, and Michigan played anywhere from two to five conference opponents a year. The 1906 team (the last before leaving the conference for a time) played just one conference game (Illinois) among five games plus an alumni exhibition.
If there was any pattern to this, it's that Michigan and Chicago would play every year except 1899 and 1906. There were a few stretches of other rivals lasting not more than four years. The newcomers (Indiana 1900-'03, Iowa 1900-'02) apparently were guaranteed some starter games with Michigan. Wisconsin (1899, 1902-'05) was the next-most regular. Northwestern and Michigan only played twice before M left. Once we did, we played Minnesota twice but nobody else.
[after the jump, we lose Chicago, gain worse]
That episode where Mr. Burns had to go work for Smithers. I'm sure there is one.
The Big Ten Championship Game and bowl selection gives us an opportunity to zoom out a little.
Who's on the up, how do next year's divisions stack up against each other for the short and long term, and what's the long term outlook for the Big Ten on a national scale (and do you care?)
Mathlete: With Michigan State's title and several preceding years of quality, they have moved into that 1B tier. Ohio State is the only team right now I would consider in the top tier. They have both the recruiting and the on field to be clearly at the top.
|I wonder what Coach Dantonio thinks about "1B" status. He probably has a measured, mature response that acknowledges his schedule was kind of easy and his recruiting is lacking. [Fuller]|
Joining the Spartans in 1B I would put Wisconsin. Behind them you have the good but definitely behind the top teams group. Unfortunately right now that includes Michigan along with Nebraska, Iowa. In the third group you have the chaos teams. Northwestern, Indiana, Minnesota (how did that happen), Penn State and probably Maryland are teams that had a pretty decent year last year despite another rash of injuries. That leaves Purdue, Illinois and Rutgers at the bottom tier.
So if you look at the divisions you have the East with 2 first tiers and 1 second tier team. The West would have 1 first tier and 2 second tier teams. The caveat is that the East's second tier team, Michigan, has been recruiting like a first tier and will finally have a large amount of acclaimed talent in the upper classes. If Michigan can move up to tier one, then the East is considerably more challenging.
On a national scale it's hard to see the Big Ten join the top as a group. The two paths up are recruiting and coaching and right now there is a pretty big gap between the Big Ten and the best in both. If Michigan can start playing like it's recruiting, and 1-2 teams of Michigan St/Wisconsin/Nebraska/Iowa can play at the top level each year, then that should help the profile of the conference. Three+ really good teams means you move out of ACC territory and get to where a conference champ would be in a position for 2 high quality wins. Ultimately, that's the blueprint for the Big Ten at the top as a conference, 3 high quality teams, 2 high quality wins. Without a foundational shift, the full depth isn't going to match up. But if the top 3 can, the conversation should die down.
About last week:
Everything the light touches is our kingdom. But the light only touches Ann Arbor.
Nebraska (6-2, 3-1 B1G)
Last game: Nebraska 27, Northwestern 24 (W)
Recap: Had the Michigan game gone just a liiiiiittle differently, this would have been a frustrating result. Nebraska would have been Michigan's biggest remaining hurdle to a
Leaders Victors Legends Bo (NNTB) Division crown, and pulling one out of their ass like this would have been rather disappointing. Instead, the world just sucks and everything is terrible, so what the hell, FAT GUY HAIL MARY.
Nebraska outgained Northwestern 472-326, but turned the ball over four times and found themselves down 3 when the above hilarity happened. They actually faced a 4th and 15 at their own 24 with under a minute left, and Ameer Abdullah took a dump-off and broke about 4 tackles to gain 16 yards.
Despite the victory, Nebraska’s quarterback situation is a bit of a crap shoot. Taylor Martinez has a strained everything, and didn’t play in this one. Excluding the Fat Guy Hail Mary, Tommy Anderson Jr. and Ron Kellogg III combined for 21/41 for 228 yards (5.6 YPA), one touchdown, and four INTs. Armstrong is more mobile (he gained 69 yards on 17 carries), but his arm was rather Acme Rocket-like; among his three turnovers, he threw one of the worst picks you’ll ever see with about two and a half minutes left deep in its own territory with the game tied.
All things considered, the offense was still very productive, but it’s hard to say if the turnovers can be extricated from that productivity given the quarterback situation. Martinez is reportedly out for the Michigan game, though, which is a significant advantage for Michigan; Nebraska is going to have to tip its hand based on which QB is under center. If Armstrong is out there, I think you’ll see Jake Ryan out there on the assumption that Nebraska will be going run-heavy, whereas if Kellogg is out there Michigan will almost certainly be in a nickel.
This team is as frightening as: Oh hell everything is frightening now, even if it isn’t objectively frightening. Fear Level = 6
Michigan should worry about: Ameer Abdullah. He’s is already over 1100 yards on the season (or about negative-23 Michigan/MSU games worth), and is averaging 7.1 yards per tote. He's a home run threat who can also be an effective every-down back. With Martinez out last week, Abdullah got 27 touches, and there’s no reason to believe that number will decrease this week.
Michigan can sleep soundly about: Nebraska’s Defensive FEI is 50th in the country… which is actually two spots BETTER than their Offensive FEI. They’ve put up some video game stats, but mostly against terrible defenses. They have played three defenses that are currently ranked in the top 93 in Defensive FEI (#23 UCLA, #30 Northwestern and #46 Minnesota), and have only averaged under 24 points per game in those three matchups. By comparison, they averaged 47 ppg against the #94, #95, #103, and #106 defenses and an FCS opponent. Michigan is statistically the best defense Nebraska will have faced this year.
When they play Michigan: Hurray for home games. Home games are good games. Home games don’t make me throw things.
Next game: @ Michigan
[AFTER THE JUMP: Poor Damn Northwestern]
Quite possibly M's second-best home opponent in 2014. No, not Wake Forest.
The Big Ten released the 2014 football conference schedule this afternoon, providing our first glance at how the conference slate looks when Rutgers and Maryland are added to the mix. The .pdf with every team's conference schedule can be found here, or you can just click the picture below to embiggen:
To make things a little simpler, here's a (chart?) chart of each team's crossover games:
|Indiana||at Iowa, Purdue|
|Maryland||Iowa, at Wisconsin|
|Michigan||Minnesota, at Northwestern|
|Michigan State||Nebraska, at Purdue|
|Ohio State||Illinois, at Minnesota|
|Penn State||Northwestern, at Illinois|
|Rutgers||at Nebraska, Wisconsin|
|Illinois||at Ohio State, Penn State|
|Iowa||Indiana, at Maryland|
|Minnesota||at Michigan, Ohio State|
|Nebraska||at Michigan State, Rutgers|
|Northwestern||at Penn State, Michigan|
|Purdue||Michigan State, at Indiana|
|Wisconsin||Maryland, at Rutgers|
Fans of the Little Brown Jug will be happy to see Minnesota as one of Michigan's crossovers; an ever-improving Northwestern squad should be a tough test. Ohio State, meanwhile, gets to feast on the conference's two worst programs—unless you want to make the case for Iowa, which... go right ahead, actually—and woe be upon the Gophers for drawing the Big Two.
Home games in ALL CAPS:
|Aug. 30||APPALACHIAN STATE|
|Sept. 6||at Notre Dame|
|Sept. 13||MIAMI (OH)|
|Oct. 4||at Rutgers|
|Oct. 11||PENN STATE|
|Oct. 25||at Michigan State|
|Nov. 8||at Northwestern|
|Nov. 29||at Ohio State|
Yeah, the home schedule suuuuuuucks. This is in part because...
THINGS OF NOTE
- The Michigan State series has flipped, so the Wolverines now travel to East Lansing in both 2013 and 2014. Michigan playing in East Lansing in back-to-back years is unprecedented, and the last time they faced both MSU and OSU on the road was in 1966.
- With the Notre Dame game in South Bend in 2014, that leaves Penn State—a team with 65 scholarship players—as the marquee home game. Utah isn't very good anymore, so the next-best game at the Big House is probably... Maryland? Ugh.
- In related news, it's very possible that Michigan will face their four toughest opponents on the road. That is less than ideal, though at least it sets up for 2015 to have a favorable schedule—especially sans Notre Dame—just as Hoke's juggernaut-laden recruiting classes really begin to take hold.
- It really can't be stressed enough how much Minnesota got screwed. Also getting unusually difficult crossover games: Illinois (at OSU, PSU) and Northwestern (at PSU, Michigan). The Illini will probably be bad no matter what, but that's an especially tough break for the Wildcats, which have a legitimate chance to contend in the West.
The biggest takeaways for me are the home schedule, which is the worst in the history of ever, and the unfortunate year-to-year imbalance created by playing MSU on the road for the second straight year. These are related, obviously—since the late '60s, Michigan fans could look forward to a home game against either MSU or OSU every year. Now there's a serious vested interest in Penn State's program somehow remaining strong through the sanctions, if only for the hopes of one interesting home game in even-numbered years.
All in all, things could be far worse for Michigan—the crossover games are reasonable, at least, and odd-numbered years are now set up for some great home slates and generous schedules overall. I can't help but look at that home schedule and feel deeply disappointed, however. Tougher non-conference scheduling can't kick in soon enough.
In retrospect, I bet this is false. But if it's not... A tweet claiming that the six Big Ten hockey programs will receive a two million dollar bonus from the BTN made the rounds, spurring many questions—including mine—about whether this would make a Nebraska or Iowa jump on the sport. Corn Nation has a take from Lincoln assuming that's true, but it also includes a couple facts that make me think the initial tweet is bollocks:
If this number is to be believed, it's a game changer for the rest of the schools in the Big Ten as well as the rest of college hockey. In 2010, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan were the top three schools in revenue generated by hockey with numbers ranging from $4.1 million for Michigan to $6.6 million for Minnesota. In comparison, Nebraska-Omaha ranked eighth with $2.8 million in total revenue.
Minnesota has a relatively lucrative deal with Fox Sports in which all their games are televised and is at the maximum end of college hockey TV revenues, and they're still at 6.6 total revenue. It doesn't seem realistic that the BTN is going to fork over that much to the hockey schools. That tweet has gone unconfirmed by anyone else, meanwhile.
The best argument in favor of it is that it's a sop to the pissed-off Gophers, but Minnesota's been a net drain in football for 50 years. What are they going to do, leave?
If it is true, that does help expansion quite a bit. According to Kristi Dosh, Michigan State spent 1.7 million on their hockey program in 2009-2010. If anyone's significantly above that it's probably not by much. Title IX means a hockey program has to come with an equivalent womens' sport, so a hypothetical BTN stipend doesn't quite make hockey break-even annually, but add in a reasonable amount of other revenue and it might. Startup costs are still an issue, but if that's a one-time hump to get over I could see certain athletic directors go for it.
#onlyincompetentgermans. Adidas is in hot water with various colleges for an Indonesian labor dispute that has already caused various universities to terminate their (much smaller, likely nonexclusive, not athletic apparel) contracts with the place Germans stash their dim bulbs. Mary Sue Coleman comes in to rattle a saber or two:
Not all of these schools have their athletics apparel contract with adidas. Some only have licensing agreements for merchandise sold in campus bookstores and through other retailers. However, a growing number of universities who have exclusive all-sport contracts with adidas, such as Wisconsin and Michigan, began to give ultimatums and threaten contract termination over the past month.
Not coincidentally, that’s when things took a turn for the better for the former PT Kizone workers. Last week, just days after adidas participated in a conference call with Michigan and neared the end of Michigan’s 45-day cure period, adidas announced a settlement. The agreement is confidential, but a press release from the former PT Kizone workers states, “the former workers will receive a substantial sum from adidas.”
All of this is over a little over two million dollars in severance pay, so this is both possibly unethical (Adidas claims they were clear of this factory six months before it shut) and bogglingly dumb. When Michigan's contract expires, things will be fascinating.
The straight face test. Dave Brandon was against a playoff and then he was okay with the playoff because he didn't consider it a playoff—the naming of the thing must have been a dark day on 1000SSS—and now he's making his paleo arguments again. He's hanging out with BFF Follow Ur Heart Hollis again:
"(Hollis is) right, we’re not going to end any controversy (with the new playoff format), we’re going to create more.
"It’s not going to settle anything (more) about who’s the national champion. There’s going to be a lot of judgment involved with four teams involved."
This is straight false. Taking thing to their logical extreme, the number of people who talk about NCAA tourney snubs the day after the brackets are announced is zero. That won't be the case here because of the restricted field, but abominations like giving an undefeated SEC champ no shot at a title are a thing of the past. When CRex took an extensive look at this last January, in the 14-year BCS sample he came up with "2" as the right number four time. The vast majority of the time the BCS is arbitrarily picking between equal-ish teams we have no data on. Four teams puts another layer of games between random guessing and the title, and cannot be more controversial.
Brandon does have some points about how he doesn't believe four will stick—though it will for at least a decade—and that asking college players to play more and more football is not so ethical. I've got a solution for that, mmm.
The straight face test part 2. Gerry DiNardo is putting on his tinfoil hat, and saying not smart things. I know, different day, same stuff.
"The other thing that concerns me is how much of the Ohio State-Michigan game motivated this, so they could continue to play at the end of the year, and (so) they have to be in the same division,'' DiNardo said. "Because it's possible, by way of example, this year, you'd have to say both of those are two of the favorites in their respective divisions, which means they could play back-to-back weeks (regular season, and Big Ten championship game), which isn't good for the Big Ten or college football.''
DiNardo had suggestions for other ways the Big Ten could have worked around the issues.
"You could see yourself dividing it North and South, still have a geographical boundary, and separate Ohio State and Michigan and play that game early in the year,'' DiNardo said. "As I often say, when I say play Ohio State and Michigan, I think divisional games should be played in the second or third week, when I say that, I run the risk of losing my job. There's other possibilities."
DiNardo is actively campaigning for the Big Ten to make the same mistake the ACC did with Miami and FSU, and his "solution" doesn't even work. Go ahead, divide this North-South:
Assuming M, MSU, Wisconsin, and Minnesota are in the North and that Iowa goes with the triangle of hate, your options are splitting Nebraska from its natural hate partners and putting them in a division with Rutgers, Maryland, and Penn State half a continent away, or making the "South" OSU, PSU, and hot garbage. When the team that is the biggest threat to OSU is under crippling NCAA sanctions for the next decade, your divisional alignment sucks.
I'm arguing with a guy who failed spectacularly despite being surrounded by piles of talent and is arguing against the greatest rivalry in college sports. Next up, I talk to a rock about why it shouldn't bother with gravity.
Silver lining. Michigan State is an ESPN poll's pick for biggest loser in the realignment:
Michigan State: Placing the Spartans in the East kept the Big Ten from needing a protected crossover for their annual game with Michigan, but it also greatly increases the number of obstacles between Michigan State and the Rose Bowl. The Spartans now have to deal with Ohio State, Michigan and Penn State in their own division every year, whereas the West would have presented a clearer path to Indianapolis and kept a budding rivalry with Wisconsin going.
Mwahaha. Also a candidate were the Jug and Illibuck trophies. Yes, the Jug is cool, but the series between those two teams is so lopsided losing that as annual event is no big deal. Meanwhile that is the worst road trip in the Big Ten for local M fans: either drive around the lake or suck up the exorbitant flight between Delta hubs. Rutgers is farther away as the crow flies but flights to New York are always dirt cheap. I'll take fewer games with Minnesota.
HOW IS CAN DO I MAKE NAMES SWEDISHES
After months and months of leaks to the effect that the Big Ten would use the opportunity presented by their (nonsensical) expansion to ditch the current divisions and go with a straight East-West breakdown, the Big Ten… actually, wait.
"Just take a ruler and a map [and split the 14 teams]," a source said.
A source? Didn't we just do this last month? ESPN?
ESPN.com reported last month that the divisions debate was down to whether Purdue or Indiana would go to the West. Purdue's campus is located west of Indiana's.
Yes. We did. Every Big Ten blog has a post on this today. The news: Purdue and Indiana have been situated. This came out in the middle of a surreal terrorist manhunt, and we still care. News is weird, but let's get swept away in the tide of history.
cowboys ride for free… wait, seriously, Kansas?
Anyone with a keyboard to tap at is making a Big Ten West == Big 12 North comparison, and… yeah, down to the school that'll probably be making the conference's last stand against the dual hegemony in the other division. The best team out of Iowa/Illinois*/Nebraska/Wisconsin/Purdue/Northwestern will probably be pretty good. They'll be a dog in most every championship game, but this is what happens when you expand with absolutely nothing other than the rapidly-fading cable television model in mind. More like NONsense and NONsensibility and zombies, amirite?
Meanwhile, the other division is Michigan, Ohio State, and Also Ran until such time as Penn State gets off the deck from their NCAA sanctions. Michigan State's trying to puff their chest out, but it's over for them. State's recent run of quasi-relevancy (still no BCS bowls… ever) coincided with a three-year period in which
- Michigan was busy punching itself during the brief Rodriguez era
- Ohio State was off the schedule (2009 and 2010) or having their one-year tatgate implosion.
MSU has one win over a good OSU team since 1974, and four total. While they've been a little less futile against Michigan, before the Rodriguez run their record the previous 20 years was 5-15. With Michigan and Ohio State poised for decade-plus long runs of coaching stability and recruiting dominance, there aren't going to be a lot of opportunities to pick off easy wins against teams struggling to .500 records or worse. It's over.
More interesting is Rutgers. New Jersey is fertile recruiting ground. With Penn State down, eastern Pennsylvania should be easier to get into. They've been recruiting on a level commensurate with a middling Big Ten team despite being stuck in the Big East. If the financial and prestige boost from their move bumps them up a notch, they could become the most annoying ankle-biter in the division.
Penn State has to dig out, obviously, and then who knows what they're like without Joe Paterno? Early returns are good, as they managed to acquire some serious talent despite the sanctions. Christian Hackenberg and Adam Breneman signed up for a team with three more bowl ban years upcoming—that says something about PSU's enduring pull with Pennsylvania recruits.
They still have no chance to keep pace. They have to be down to 65 players this year and are currently on track to have a recruiting class of eight guys this year even with some attrition that's 10 to 12 players. Doom awaits. By the time they're good the Big Ten will probably be at 84 teams. Short term thinking, that's our motto.
Indiana and Maryland enjoy basketball.
*[Yeah, Illinois. Every ten years they have a good team and then implode.]
Should we be thinking long term?
The ACC is trumpeting a very long "grant of rights" deal that hypothetically locks the TV revenue from the 15 member teams—ND included minus football—to the conference they're currently in until 2027. This will save the conference unless something totally improbable happens. That thing: lawyers!
Unless a league member decides to go to litigation to escape this down the road, the ACC believes a Grant of Rights will protect it from conference realignment poachers.
Because lawyers never get involved in these things. While the GOR provides an extra hurdle, it's a deterrent designed to look super scary. Just how effective it'll be in the event of a departure is unknown. See: Maryland, currently involved in that litigation stuff over a $50 million exit fee the ACC voted in just before they left. Maryland will likely pay something less than that in a settlement.
People in charge of things are just in charge of them
Goodbye, Successories Conference.
leadership is more about not being clueless than eyebrows
Let us pour out some gasoline for our dead homie division names, and light them on fire. Burning is the most terrible way to die, but as the wisps arise from the charred notions that were "Legends" and "Leaders" it seems far too kind. If that debacle doesn't prove to you once and for all that our tendency to worship any bushy-eyebrowed dim bulb who manages to ascend to the talky bit of any enterprise is destructive, I don't know what to tell you.
Whenever someone cocks their eyebrow at you and condescendingly says that you don't have the vast amounts of information and knowledge they do about complicated geopolitical processes like conference realignment, just remember that those guys are the ones who made the conference a national laughingstock for years. They did this by doing something that was such a bad idea from the start that they promised they'd reconsider after literally every person who heard it laughed in their face.
Therefore their projections that media markets are still going to matter in 10 years…
At least there's that. Starting in 2016, Big Ten teams will play nine conference games each. It looks like there's an easy way around the unbalanced schedule issue: have all the teams in one division have four one year, five the other.
I'd rather play more Wisconsin/Nebraska/Iowa than any nonconference opponent you care to name save Notre Dame—RIP, ND series—so I look on this as no downside. With Michigan buying home games from the Oregon States and Cincinnatis of the world, they can have their seventh home game with a nonconference schedule that consists of one cupcake, one interesting guarantee game against a midlevel foe, and one marquee matchup. Well, most of the time. The 2016 nonconference schedule is now locked in: Hawaii, Ball State, and Colorado. Er.
Complicated solution to problem time
Time to re-iterated my desired solution for the basketball situation: everyone plays round-robin, and then the conference is split into a top seven and bottom seven, whereupon another round-robin commences. 19 total games, best overall record wins. Pros:
- Conference championship is almost entirely fair. Home-road is unbalanced in the first half, but none of this "you didn't play team X" business. The regular season championship is a really big deal right now; this would make it bigger.
- No divisions. Divisions kill the importance of the regular season title.
- The last six games for the top half are a must-see all-out war. Dude, take this year's league and do this to it and imagine a stretch run where IU-OSU-M-MSU-Wisconsin-Iowa-Minnesota OR Illinois OR Maryland only play each other. That would be nuts.
- Doesn't require you to expand the conference schedule too much to get coverage. No 20, 22 game conference schedules but you don't get all that discussion about how team X doesn't play team Y.
Cons are obvious and large: potentially problematic ticket sales since you don't know who you're playing or when, a potential for teams near the bubble to get blasted off it (if you're #7 in the top half) or have little opportunity to climb out of it (for #8 stuck with the little people). I stole the RR-split-RR system from Scottish soccer, which has a compelling narrative at the bottom as teams try to avoid relegation that doesn't exist in college sports.
In any case, they could at least try it and see if the upside outweighs the downside.