Completely Bats 14-Team Big Ten Proposal

Submitted by Brian on February 11th, 2010 at 11:58 AM

It's so crazy it might work

And now for something completely different: I'm on record that the idea of a 14-team Big Ten is basically insane. But if, hypothetically, this occurs, this is a completely insane way of tackling the insane topic of a 14-team college football conference that's so crazy it might work.

The Big Ten implements a limited promotion/relegation structure that sees full-round robins within each group and significant interaction between groups. They add a ninth conference game.

Bo/Woody Group

Top five teams.

Play: each other (4), three in group two (3), two in group three (2).

Tiller/Mason Group

Middle four teams.

Play: each other (3), three in group one (3), three in group three(3).

Williams/Dinardo Group

Bottom five teams.

Play: each other (4), three in group two (3), two in group one(2).

At year's end, the following things happen:

1) the bottom team in group one and the top team in group two swap groups.
2) ditto for groups two and three.
3) the second-to-last team and second-place team in each group plays a playoff game to see whether they stay in their group or switch.
4) The top two teams play a championship game. One team is always the winner of group one. The other team could be the second place team in group one or a really good group two or three winner: any undefeated (in conference) group two/three winner gets an auto-bid to the championship game. If there are two, group two gets priority. If the second-place Group 1 team has the same record as a group two or three team and the lower team has a H2H win, they get the bid. There would probably be some complicated formula that would allow lower division teams into the game if they outperformed the group one teams sufficiently.

Why do this?

It would be pretty intense, right? Every team in the middle group would be clawing to advance or descend. Everyone in the top group would be clawing for the conference title or to avoid getting relegated. The teams at the bottom would be playing to advance and would have a better shot at bowl eligibility. Almost every game in the Big Ten would be critical. No one would be fighting for the Alamo Bowl, they'd be fighting for the right to compete for the conference championship.

Also, it creates a lot more quality matchups between top teams and minimizes face-beatings. All the good teams you want to see play will play. You can even protect a rivalry or two by guaranteeing that if rivals are in different groups they will play each other.

Bonus: It sidesteps the debate about whether to make Big X divisions geographically coherent or wildly unbalanced.

Why not do this?

College football teams can vary so wildly from year to year that the best team in the conference might not make the championship. Earlier this decade, Penn State went from two consecutive losing seasons that would have found them in the bottom group to an 11-1 Orange Bowl winning team.

It's really complicated.

The NCAA would have to sign off on not only a crazy championship game but two other championship-ish games, and they probably wouldn't. And it would blow everyone's minds.

Comments

bouje

February 11th, 2010 at 12:11 PM ^

Let's take a hypothetical. Let's say that the top conference beats the crap out of each other and that next year Michigan goes undefeated in conference (or has the best record in conference). Since they are in the bottom division they have no chance at the championship?

That's the only flaw that I see that I don't really like.

Also (From twitter the internets are for speculation):

umhoops

By far the best option for the B10. RT @CFTalk: Report: Big Ten, Texas have initial talks http://tinyurl.com/yzvy5je #collegefootball 12 minutes ago from TweetDeck

joeyb

February 11th, 2010 at 12:19 PM ^

4) The top two teams play a championship game. One team is always the winner of group one. The other team could be the second place team in group one or a really good group two or three winner: any undefeated (in conference) group two/three winner gets an auto-bid to the championship game. If there are two, group two gets priority. If the second-place Group 1 team has the same record as a group two or three team and the lower team has a H2H win, they get the bid. There would probably be some complicated formula that would allow lower division teams into the game if they outperformed the group one teams sufficiently.

Engin77

February 11th, 2010 at 12:15 PM ^

but if three teams (one from each group) finish undefeated, you take group one and two winners based on strength of schedule?

Overall, I like it. When preparing to throw away 70 years of tradition, don't consider half-measures, do something revolutionary!

desmondintherough

February 11th, 2010 at 12:16 PM ^

This would definitely blow everyone's minds, and I love it. Besides the points Brian made, I would expect this structure to have an interesting effect on recruiting, although you have a less-formally-structured-but-still-pretty-rigid haves and have-nots system now anyway.

This is similar to the english soccer league, right? I wonder how you would do the initial seeding, just based on the previous year's record?

This would also have an interesting effect on coaching changes like the one we have just gone through. Assuming Michigan would have been in the top tier in '07, the switch to RR would have dropped us to the second tier in '08 and almost definitely the third-tier in '09. I would expect this to be a significant disincentive to making the kind of system/culture switch that going with RR was if any more stable options were available.

zlionsfan

February 11th, 2010 at 3:42 PM ^

in a condensed format, of course (because EPL teams play only each other, whereas this involves games between groups). But perhaps more like other countries, given the way the playoffs would work: in English soccer, the playoffs are only within a level and only for promotion spots. There are other countries that have a mixture of automatic relegation/promotion and playoff relegation/promotion between certain levels (like this idea, where a team has to win a playoff game to win promotion).

GoBlueYork

February 11th, 2010 at 12:26 PM ^

So if Michigan were in the bottom division, they can potentially go undefeated and not make it to their own conference championship game???

There's too much turnover in college football for it to be treated like EPL.

Let's burn this post and forget that it ever happened.

formerlyanonymous

February 11th, 2010 at 12:28 PM ^

Scheduling nonconference games should probably be addressed somewhere. Are we assuming no conference byes/mandatory first 3 weeks of the season are the only nonconference games?

It just seems like scheduling would be fairly last minute instead of years ahead.

joeyb

February 11th, 2010 at 12:48 PM ^

Homecoming wouldn't be as much of an issue. It's not like you have to play them in any particular order. If your homecoming team is in your division then you are already going to play them. If they are in another division then you are forced to play them as one of the two or three teams that you play in that division.

What it might screw up, though, is the Home/Away schedule.

joeyb

February 11th, 2010 at 12:29 PM ^

What I don't like is that if a team from the bottom division goes undefeated, they only move up to the middle division the next year. Shouldn't they move up to the top division? Maybe there should be a provision that if a team plays in the championship game, they automatically get moved to the top division. That would mean two from the top division would move down to the middle division.

MaizeAndBlueWahoo

February 11th, 2010 at 12:29 PM ^

I like it, but....it seems to be installing relegation just for the sake of relegation. A jump to Group 2, for example, appears to be its own reward (plus a little tiny boost in priority for the BTCG, which is offset by having to play a harder schedule), which ain't enough.

You would need to specify something better, like, bowls have to take a Group 1 team before they take a Group 2 team, with all kinds of complex caveats about better records and so on and so forth. Promotion for its own sake just doesn't seem worth the effort.

And the catfight over how to determine the groups from the start would be pretty intense. Who's a top team? Naturally, M will want to look at records over the past ten years and Iowa (for example) would prefer we ignore all but last year.

bronxblue

February 11th, 2010 at 12:52 PM ^

I think the system would work, but only if movement in the divisions was weighted a bit more. So instead of a team moving around every year, maybe make the shift on a 2-year basis? That way, a team can have a down year and still bounce back, and a one-year wonder has to show sustained improvement lest they jump a division and get pummeled all year.

I know that means the random undefeated team might miss out on the championship game, but my sense is that it won't happen too often. While the Penn St. example is a cautionary tale, historically the Big 10 shakes out like most major conference - the best teams rarely stumble and the bad teams rarely show sustained improvement. I mean, Indiana hasn't been relevant in over a decade, and OSU has been the best team in the conference over that same span. The real scrapping would be between the bottom team in the Bo/Woody division and the top team in the Tiller/Mason division, but most years that is a debate between teams like MSU, Wiscy, and Iowa - good teams, but rarely competing for a conference crown.

The FannMan

February 11th, 2010 at 12:53 PM ^

The best part of this is that there could someday be a game where we have a chance at relegating tOSU to the bottom level. Other than that I think its crazy.

The whole winter sports sucking thing has really given Brian some extra time, huh?

StateSt09

February 11th, 2010 at 12:55 PM ^

If you want to make a national title run, it pretty much has to be at least a two-year push. If you have a bad year, next year when your players are older and you're a better team you're still being hurt by the previous year because you have a weaker strength of schedule. People on the national stage will say things like "_____ is undefeated, but they're only a second tier Big Ten team so we'll ignore them."

And that's how "just wait til next year" becomes "wait til two years from now."

Space Coyote

February 11th, 2010 at 12:56 PM ^

Yeah, I think it's pretty terrible.

It is like the premier league, but the big difference there is that there are 20 teams in the top division, thus breaking up which teams could likely win much more obviously, and they also play many more games so it makes more sense. With college football you can't play as many games, and therefore, can't have divisions with as many teams. This however, makes this idea pretty craptastic because there typically isn't a clear division between team 7 and team 3.

It would also hurt the big ten's perception nationally, as the top teams would always beat up on each other and, possibly, one bad team would do good. But people will claim that bad team doesn't deserve to be ranked before admitting the number 5 team in the top division should be, even with four loses. I don't know, it just doesn't seem like a good idea when applied to american football, or as I like to call it, football.

Alton

February 11th, 2010 at 1:04 PM ^

Sorry to be the one to point this out, but there are 2 ways the math doesn't work:

PROBLEM #1:
GROUP 1: 5 teams, play 3 teams each in group 2.
GROUP 2: 4 teams, play 3 teams each in group 1.

That means that the 5 teams in group 1 need 15 matchups (5 teams x 3 games) with group 2 teams. Unfortunately, the 4 teams in group 2 need 12 matchups (4 teams x 3 games) with group 1 teams. It can't be done.

PROBLEM #2:
GROUP 2: 4 teams, play 3 teams each in group 3.
GROUP 3: 5 teams, play 3 teams each in group 2.

Same problem at the bottom of the conference.

leftrare

February 11th, 2010 at 5:31 PM ^

Brian failed? You are correct sir. I was thinking exactly this as I went to lunch but assumed it would be unnecessary to go back and check Brian's work.

But I liked the concept of grouping and relegation/promotion and a playoff. It's better than the haphazard way the schedules are put together now and at least one power-vs.-power matchup not happening every year.

So, I got to thinking about trying to make a three group schedule work with 11 teams/8 games. (I could make it work for 14 too, but I'm more interested in the here and now.)

Aaaand... I've got it worked out but it's too much of a pain in the ass to post here with any clarity.

But, anyway, I think it's got a lot of merit vs. the pattern in place now which is dictated by rivalries and two fixed non-scheduled opponents.

Sgt. Wolverine

February 11th, 2010 at 1:20 PM ^

But I think trying to make it work with three groups in a conference is asking for it to fail. With the more realistic 12-team, two-division conference, relegation could actually work.

Discussion: if the NFL had relegation, how long would it take for the Lions to be relegated to playing in a local high school league? Would the Detroit PSL take the Lions?

harmon98

February 11th, 2010 at 2:46 PM ^

holy hell Brian. on the principle of pure insanity, it's insane. by the time I got to step 4 in the year's end rundown it was all greek to me

4) Οι δύο πρώτες ομάδες παίζουν ένα παιχνίδι πρωταθλήματος. Μία ομάδα είναι πάντα ο νικητής της ομάδας. Η άλλη ομάδα θα μπορούσε να είναι η δεύτερη ομάδα θέση σε μια ομάδα ή μια πραγματικά καλή ομάδα δύο ή τρεις νικητής: κάθε αήττητη (στο συνέδριο) ομάδα δύο / τρεις νικητής παίρνει την αυτο-προσφορά για το παιχνίδι πρωταθλήματος. Εάν υπάρχουν δύο, ομάδα δύο παίρνει προτεραιότητα. Εάν η δεύτερη θέση την ομάδα 1 ομάδα έχει το ίδιο ρεκόρ ως ομάδα δύο ή τρία ομάδα και το χαμηλότερο ομάδα έχει κερδίσει H2H, παίρνουν την προσφορά. Θα υπάρξει πιθανόν κάποια πολύπλοκη φόρμουλα που θα επιτρέψει μείωση ομάδες διαίρεση στο παιχνίδι, εφόσον καλύτερες επιδόσεις από την ομάδα μία ομάδες επαρκώς.

Roberto Mancini

February 11th, 2010 at 2:56 PM ^

I love it..

So do the Bo/Woody teams get to play in some sort of champions league after the regular season is over??

(sorry, football/soccer is the number one sport on my mind right now.)

Michigan Arrogance

February 11th, 2010 at 3:22 PM ^

fixing the current play off structure in the Time Traveling Unicorn-Leprecon Lightsaber Jousting Tournament?

because right now, team Mxyzptlk is totally getting screwed by the TTULLJT committee.