Effects of Uneven Division Scheduling in the World of 14/16/18 Team Conferences

Submitted by FieldingBLUE on November 12th, 2012 at 1:54 PM

In a debate with ESS-EEE-CEE fans about the BCS standings yielded this.

Looking over why these super conferences (14+ members) will really suck going forward...the top teams in each division won't have to face each other that often. This is even more amplified than in 12-team conferences and will get worse with 16-team conferences. I'm using the 2012 SEC as an example because this really brought everything into focus. Taking the top 6 teams from the SEC this year...

Teams playing ALL of the other top 5 teams: NONE

Teams playing FOUR of the other top 5 teams: LSU & Florida

Teams playing THREE of the other top 5 teams: TAMU & Soufkerliner

Teams playing TWO of the other top 5 teams: Bama & UGA

BONUS FACT: These top 6 teams' record against the other 8 teams in the SEC: 26-0

Yet, despite that, Georgia wins the head-to-head tiebreaker with Florida in the East, even with an easier schedule than UF or USC. Bama will win the West even with an easier schedule than TAMU & LSU (and splitting with both).

Records versus Top 6 opponents (overall SEC record in parens):


Bama...1-1 (6-1)

LSU...2-2 (4-2)

TAMU...1-2 (5-2)



Georgia...1-1 (7-1)

Florida...3-1 (7-1)

USC...1-2 (6-2)

Records versus bottom 8 teams (remaining games against bottom 8 SEC opponents):


Bama...5-0 (1)

LSU...2-0 (2)

TAMU...4-0 (0)



Georgia...6-0 (0)

Florida...4-0 (0)

USC...5-0 (0)

The only thing that may knock the SEC myth of 2012 off its pedestal will be a surprising ACC uprising in two weeks. If Clemson, FSU and Ga Tech (apologies for inducing laughter) would beat SC, UF, and UGA, respectively, suddenly the shine is off the SEC dong a bit, allowing a less inflated BCS/Poll elevation of this conference in the nationwide consciousness due only to its ability to rotate wins among its top six. 

This is not an [insert conference here] is clearly better than the SEC argument. (Winning X titles in a row gives a little leeway.) It's about how a single conference can inflate its standing without its top teams having to play each other enough once we move into the world of 14/16/18 team conferences. (And of course, "knowing" which teams would be the top six is impossible, so it's not about which teams have to play more games about better opponents but the fact that it's possible to have very uneven schedules determine division winners in these megaconferences.)

Bama & Georgia (likely division winners) = 25% of SEC games against top opponents

TAMU & SC = 38% of SEC games against top opponents

LSU & UF = 50% of SEC games against top opponents

for fun...Mizzou = 63% of SEC games against top opponents (welcome, third Tigers!)

NOTE: Only Bama & UGA played 1/4 of conference games against top 6 opponents, 5 teams played 3/8, 6 teams played 4/8, 1 team played 5/8.


Michigan, Northwestern & Wisconsin = 38% of B1G games against top 6 opponents

Ohio State & Penn State = 50% of B1G games against top 6 opponents (both ineligible for division title)

Nebraska = 63% of B1G games against top 6 opponents (and likely to go 7-1 and win North)

NOTE: 3 teams played 3/8 against top 6 opponents, 6 teams played 4/8, 3 teams played 5/8.

NOTE2: Nebraska does play all of the other 5 teams, OSU/PSU play 4 of 5, and M/NW/W play 3 of 5.

In summation, the larger a conference gets, the more inflated its conference records can become. Small sample size, rabble, rabble, but it appears to be true. Some could argue that teams 7 & 8 in a 14-team league might be in the top teams one year and down in another year. True, yet seeing how the likely division winners in the SEC will have the easier roads to get there is striking, at least in 2012.

SORRY: thought I had this formatted correctly...will fix shortly, off to a meeting now.



November 12th, 2012 at 4:01 PM ^

Way to say it like it is. The ESS-EEE-CEE has too much hype to it. And your stats prove it. In the eyes of the BCS the SEC is NOTHING to the Big Ten.


November 12th, 2012 at 4:56 PM ^

Easy there, tiger. That's not what the post is saying.

This post is pointing out that as a conference gets larger, the teams in the conference play each other less. This results in top teams playing other top teams less frequently. This is not rocket science. In fact, the "intimacy of the league" is one reason Delany doesn't want to expnd to too many teams in the B1G. 


November 13th, 2012 at 8:59 AM ^

begin to figure this out and demand change. Don't think it's healthy for the quality of their "product," long-term. I see a lot more potshots being taken against that league this year. 

That said, Texas A&M has brought a flush of novelty to the proceedings.