Bats Explanation Redux

Submitted by Brian on April 22nd, 2010 at 1:26 PM


Okay. Complaints about a lack of clarity in the 16-team bats scenario have been lodged and heeded. Let's walk through an example of the "backwards scenario," which I will dub "Dynamic Crossover" because it sounds cool.

Yes, this is all irrelevant for at least a year now, and given the accuracy of media speculation to date the Big Ten will probably end up kicking everyone except Illinois and Northwestern out, and the chances that the Big Ten will adopt anyone's loony internet proposal are dim indeed. It's April 22nd. Minds will wander. On with show.


Let's say the final standings of each eight team division are like so:

Bo Record Woody Record
Ohio State 7-0 Penn State 6-1
Nebraska 5-2 Iowa 6-1
Michigan 5-2 Pitt 5-2
Michigan State 4-3 Wisconsin 4-3
Illinois 3-4 Minnesota 3-4
Northwestern 2-5 Missouri 3-4
Purdue 1-6 Rutgers 1-6
Indiana 1-6 Notre Dame 0-7

We now break the conference into four groups:

Paterno Osborne Colleto Dinardo
Ohio State Penn State Illinois Minnesota
Iowa Nebraska Missouri Northwestern
Pitt Michigan Rutgers Purdue
Michigan State Wisconsin Indiana Notre Dame

"Paterno" and "Osborne" are the good teams, "Colleto" and "Dinardo" the bad ones. Now we play games that haven't already been played in each group. Hypothetical focus on Paterno:

  • Ohio State has already played Michigan State, with OSU winning. (They dominated in yardage but a series of fluky turnovers made it look closer than it was.)
  • Iowa beat Pitt 6-5.

In week one:

  • Ohio State plays at Pitt. Pitt wins.
  • Michigan State plays at Iowa. Iowa wins.

In week two:

  • Pitt plays at Michigan State. Pitt wins.
  • Iowa plays at Ohio State. Ohio State wins.

The final standings:

Paterno Group Conference
Ohio State 2-1 8-1
Iowa 2-1 7-2
Pitt 2-1 7-2
Michigan State 0-3 4-5

Ohio State advances to the conference championship game by virtue of its overall record. You'll note that it is hard or even impossible for third or fourth place teams to win through—Pitt won both of its crossover games and still didn't make it—but this seems like a good compromise between keeping a lot of teams involved and making sure the totality of the regular season is weighed appropriately.

Simple Variant

If this is too complicated or falls foul of the NCAA's bylaws that restrict conference championship games to conferences that play round robin in two separate divisions, you can get rid of the group concept but leave the crossover games dynamic. The scheduling remains the same—#1 and #4 play #2 and #3 from the other division—but the winner is just the team in each division with the best record.


  • Crossover games are equitable, important, and high profile.
  • Guarantees two weeks of hyped games between good teams, culminating in a championship game.
  • Eliminates unbalanced scheduling complaints.


  • Leaves two weeks of the season uncertain. Although you know you'll be playing you don't know where or against who.
  • Increases the chance of a championship game rematch.
  • Increased connectivity between top teams will add extra losses and may hurt chances at additional BCS bids.



April 22nd, 2010 at 2:03 PM ^

But, I don't think you can include division play in group standings without risking a major backlash.

Lets imagine a scenario where each division has four teams with 4-3 records (e.g. Nebraska, Michigan, Michigan State, and Illinois), and 1 team with a 6-1 record (OSU), with the loss coming to one of the 4-3 teams. Lets further suppose the 4-3 team that, via tiebreakers is grouped with OSU at the 4 seed, happens to be the one that upset them. As a result, OSU enters group play in a 0-1 hole, and the 4 seed has a 1-0 advantage.

In this scenario, its feasible that, if both divisions end up with 4-3 #2 seeds, that including the 0-1 record disadvantage for OSU would put a 6-4 team (2-1 in group) that lost to the #1 head-to-head in group play, into the championship game ahead of that 1 seed OSU team that went 8-2 (1-2 in group) AND beat the 6-4 team head-to-head. This all the result because OSU happened to lose to the 4 seed instead of the 2,3, or 5. Outrage.

This is a long way of saying: Just stick to 2 games with overall record as a tie-breaker in group play standings. The 4-seed can make it, but only if they go 2-0 and the 1 seed does not. An inferior 2 or 3 seed can make it, but they would have had to beat the #1 seed to do it.


April 22nd, 2010 at 3:02 PM ^

From what i understand unless im reading yours wrong that couldnt happen. The winner of the group doesn't guarantee a championship spot, the team with the best overall record in the group gets the championship game. So the 8-2 buckeyes in your scenario would still go ahead of the 6-4 team.


April 22nd, 2010 at 3:24 PM ^

It said "The winner of each group gets a bid to the conference title game. First tiebreaker is overall conference record." I was assuming that still held true.

Brian's variant (in this post) would eliminate the groups and guarantee that the championship game is between the two divisions. The cross-division matchups in this case would just ensure that good teams play each other often.


April 22nd, 2010 at 3:43 PM ^

The biggest "con" was left out: it violates the KISS principle. There are so many other adequate, and simple, solutions.

Perhaps it is just the need to keep people busy in the off season, but if the front page coverage at is any indication the only way this ends up with the Big 10(11) going to just 12 teams is if they get just ND to join. Otherwise, everything blows up...and once you broach 14, then 16 and 18 also make sense, perhaps more sense. It seems the most logical end game is four super conferences each made up of 15 or 18 teams with the Big 12 being carved up between the Big 10 and Pac 10 or SEC. The ACC and Big East end up having to gather the dregs that are left to form a new conference.


April 22nd, 2010 at 11:21 PM ^

We aren't negotiating Middle East peace here, we're just trying to determine a conference champ. It would most likely be two divisions split into eight teams. Pretty simple.

Ohio State and Michigan will anchor one side. The other side could be anchored by Notre Dame and/or Nebraska. Penn State is in flux until the actual teams are determined.

The rest of the teams (are you listening Sparty?) will have to pray that they get a shot at a championship every two decades or so.

Zone Left

April 22nd, 2010 at 4:03 PM ^

So OSU isn't in the Woody Division? That eliminates all my potentially hilarious jokes.

OSU has a stranglehold on Woody.

The Woody Division is tougher than Charlie Bauman.

The possibilities are endless--and really bad.

Also, I'd consider replacing the Colletto division with a Bobby Williams division. He's more recent and much worse relative to the level of expectations in East Lansing.


April 22nd, 2010 at 6:44 PM ^

That last con may not really be a con. Sure, the top teams in the conference playing each other greatly reduces the chance of additional BCS bid(s). But it should also significantly help the eventual B10(B16?) champion in getting into the MNC game. For 2 reasons: 1) you play high profile attention grabbing games vs good competition, elevating your standings in the polls, and 2) because your top teams are playing each other, there's no chance of a pratfall in the last couple weeks where multiple contenders lose to lesser competition.