A Slightly Less Bats 16 Team Proposal

Submitted by Tacopants on April 20th, 2010 at 4:29 PM
In my spare time today, I decided to make a sweet spreadsheet.  It's more of a conventional split of a 16 team Mecha-Godzilla Big Ten conference.  As such, it's bound to piss just about everybody off, but hopefully I built in enough intriguing matchups to make somebody happy.


Bo Woody JoePA Fry/Osborne
Michigan Ohio St. Penn St. Iowa
MSU Moby Dick BE 1 (Pitt?) Wisconsin
B12 2 (Mizzou?) Illinois BE 2 (RU/Cuse?) Minnesota
Indiana Northwestern Purdue B12 1 (Neb?)

In here I'm assuming that we will poach at least 2 Big XII and 2 Big East teams.  Moby Dick may be ND, Texas, or any other random school.

I attempted to preserve as many rivalries with the divisions as I could, while at the same time balancing geography and football prestige.  The Fry/Osborne division is the only one I feel solidly about, the other 3 can flex around a bit to find the best fit.

To go along with the divisions, I decided to include 2 protected games for each team, much like the Big Ten's current format, to preserve up to 2 big rivalries/develop new ones.  Without complete knowledge of rivalries of all teams, I tried my best.

Cross Divisional Protected Games

Michigan Ohio St
Ohio St Michigan
Michigan Minnesota
Ohio St Penn St

MSU Penn St.
Moby Dick Purdue
MSU Northwestern
Moby Dick B 12 1

B 12 2 Illinois
Illinois B 12 2
B 12 2 B 12 1
Illinois Indiana

Indiana Purdue
Northwestern MSU
Indiana Illinois
Northwestern Iowa

Penn St Ohio St
Iowa Penn St.
Penn St Iowa
Iowa Northwestern

BE 1 Wisconsin

Wisconsin BE 1
BE 1 Minnesota Wisconsin BE 2

BE 2 Wisconsin Minnesota Michigan
BE 2 B 12 1
Minnesota BE 1

Purdue Indiana
B12 1 B12 2
Purdue Moby Dick B12 1 BE 2

The 3 Divisional games and 2 protected matchups should ideally be played in the first 5 weeks of conference play.*  Then we move onto:

Weeks 6-7

Weeks 6-7 are a semi-randomized* draw.  Each team will play 1 home and 1 away game.  I call this a semi-randomized draw because there are rules.  You cannot play
  • Anybody you played in weeks 1-5
  • Anybody you played in weeks 6-7 of randomized draw from the last year
  • Anybody you played in the conference weeks 8-9 last year

At the end of Week 7, we lock into seeding for mini-playoffs in weeks 8-9

Weeks 8-9

The conference splits in 2 for weeks 8 and 9.  The top half of the conference is put into 2 divisions, seeded by conference record, H2H matchups, point differentials, and et cetera.  These two divisions would play 1v4, 2v3, then winners vs.winners and losers vs. losers.  The two winners that would emerge would then play for the Mega Ultra Super Explosion Conference Championship Game (Sponsored by State Farm)

The other bracket, tentatively named I can Has Bowl?  Will follow much the same format, only all of these teams will be pretty much battling it out for the last few bowl berths available in conference.  If scheduling trends continue with MACrifice type games, most of these teams can get to 6-6 if they win out.  They're jostling for position, much like any teams that lose any of the games in the championship bracket.  Keep in mind this new conference would probably send at least 2, and as many as 4 teams to the BCS every year.

As a final note, if 2 lower seeded teams have the same record, the conference can decide to flip them to give a better (IE, non divisional or teams that have not played this year) matchup

To illustrate this, I'll provide an example season

After 7 weeks of conference play, the standings are**:

Bo Woody JoePA Fry/Osborne
Michigan (6-1) Ohio St. (7-0) Penn St. (5-2) Iowa (6-1)
MSU (3-4) Moby Dick (4-3) BE 1 (Pitt?) (4-3) Wisconsin (6-1)
B12 2 (Mizzou?) (5-2) Illinois (4-3) BE 2 (RU/Cuse?) (0-7) Minnesota (0-7)
Indiana (0-7) Northwestern (2-5) Purdue (2-5) B12 1 (Neb?) (2-5)

Which would lead to this type of week 8-9 seeding

Seeds Champion 1 Champion 2 I can has bowl? I can has bowl?
1 Ohio St. (7-0) Iowa (6-1) Illinois (4-3) MSU (3-4)
2 Wisconsin (6-1) Michigan (6-1) Northwestern (2-5) Purdue (2-5)
3 B12 2 (Mizzou?) (5-2) Penn St. (5-2) B12 1 (Neb?) (2-5) Indiana (0-7)
4 BE 1 (Pitt?) (4-3) Illinois (4-3) Minnesota (0-7) BE 2 (RU/Cuse?) (0-7)

Winner of Champion 1 v Champion 2 would compete in the Mega Ultra Super Explosion Conference Championship Game (Sponsored by State Farm)

And to be clear: All lower seeds have home field advantage throughout weeks 8-9.  Conference Championship held at neutral site NFL stadium.

So there you have it.  Let's lauch into Pro-Con

Pros -

  • Pretty much everybody can keep traditional rivals, either through divisional lineups or protected matchups.  The only exception will be if Moby Dick turns out to be Notre Dame.  In which case, to hell with Notre Dame, you shouldn't have made us make a 16 team conference.  You'll get nothing and like it.
  • In the end, you play with your skill level.  Even if your Division and rivals all had down years AND your random seeds turned out to be bad, you will still be forced to win 3 games against quality opponents to win the Big Ten.
  • You are guaranteed to see at least 2, hopefully 3-4 new teams a year due to the randomization in weeks 6-7.  This should see you cycle through the conference every 4 years or so, not ideal, but hopefully it'll all work out.
  • It makes my head hurt: Yeah, it makes my head hurt too
  • Divisions are fairly static: Yep, I guess we could make a provision that realignment can happen every X amount of years, assuming this conference survives.
  • Some teams may be screwed out of position due to the 8/9 cutoff: Yeah, but were we really expecting them to win the championship anyways?  They should have won more games in weeks 1-7.
  • The losers bracket sucks:  You suck.  That and 3-6 of those teams are angling for bowls, everybody else gets to play for pride and a chance to screw somebody out of a bowl.
A Weird mix of Pro and Con

  • Some teams will invariably play each other twice in a season.  This is not necessarily good or bad.  In the championship bracket, it's a shot at redemption!  In the losers bracket... it's a shot at redemption.
This proposal has deeply upset you and/or I have made grammatical errors that really bug you.  You are dying to tell me that Mecha-Godzilla does not have a hyphen.

Feel free to let me know.  I don't care about the hyphenations, but I suppose everything else is fair game.

*Truly random schedule generation would lead to weird results like playing Ohio State 3x
**This may or may not make sense with Divisions/rivalry matchups.  I don't care.  The total wins and losses add up correctly, and that's all I really care about to illustrate an example



April 20th, 2010 at 4:52 PM ^

Having OSU on our schedule every year instead of a random weak team puts us at a disadvantage. Some years, 5-2 might not be enough to make the cut to the top-4 playoff in weeks 8-9, or maybe we're 4-3 but played a tougher schedule and are bumped down to the toilet-bowl tourney by a 5-2 team who didn't have to play OSU.

The beauty of Brian's (and others) suggestions is that they make uneven schedules fairly irrelevant. Every team has a pretty equal shot within their groupings and can't blame any systemic or scheduling bias on their fate.


April 20th, 2010 at 5:06 PM ^

Bottom Line: We must play OSU every year, no questions asked. With the conference championship game coming to fruition, the game won't be on the final weekend unfortunately. So we get to eliminate them from title contention earlier rather than later. I'm ok with this.


April 21st, 2010 at 5:56 PM ^

It would be nigh-on impossible for a 4-3 team to be bumped to the toilet bowl bracket by an undeserving 5-2. There are a total of 7x8 = 56 conference games before that decision point. For the #8 team to bump a 4-3 team down to #9, this would mean that at least 44 victories would be concentrated in spots 1-9. This leaves 12 total wins to be distributed to the bottom 7 teams.

With how the scheduling system works, its also almost impossible to end up with more than 2-3 winless teams in conference (due to the fact that random fate and divisional/protected matchups won't allow it.) If you have several winless teams, it's also a good bet that many teams will end up 6-1 or better.

Trust me, I tried to break it that way. The 7-10 spots are pretty much always in that 4-3 or 3-4 range. If you're a 4-3 team that gets edged out by another 4-3 team, that's just tough luck. Maybe you should have won more games.


April 20th, 2010 at 5:28 PM ^

Why we can't just do a North-South or East-West type format instead of all this confusing crap. The Big 10 will never implement anything like this, even if the NCAA was cool with it, which they probably aren't.


April 20th, 2010 at 6:41 PM ^

Finding something that works is more important than finding something that is simple. I'm not so sure this particular proposal works for me, though. Regardless, if the Big 10 doesn't get this right, it will be a huge failure and a major black eye for the league. I also don't understand your point about the NCAA having a problem with a complex arrangement, what would their objection be?


May 1st, 2010 at 3:00 AM ^

if the Big Ten does a non-traditional alignment and it seems to go poorly. If they do the obvious (meaning two divisions with conventional scheduling), then even if some schools wonder aloud about scheduling, no one will care much as long as the BTN money keeps rolling in.

It's kind of like coaching. Most of the time, conferences play not to lose, so if something doesn't work out, there isn't anyone who is obviously at fault. If Delany and company select a pod-type system and it goes down in flames, people will want a scapegoat.

Kilgore Trout

April 20th, 2010 at 8:05 PM ^

All in all, I think it's pretty doable. I would make the divisions contain almost all protected rivalries and then do 4 weeks of rotation / randomized draw to get everyone on each other's schedules more regularly.

The other thing is that whoever comes in the bottom of the conference in the first seven games is going to get seriously hosed on home games and consequently $$, so that might be a problem.


April 20th, 2010 at 8:08 PM ^

Although we would definitely end up playing OSU twice a season quite often.

And I still really really really hope we don't have a sixteen team "union." Right now I'm praying for 14 because it's still close to manageable.

Wallaby Court

April 21st, 2010 at 1:59 AM ^

I think my biggest complaint is that this requires a mid-season schedule adjustment. I don't think an athletic department in the would want to have to deal with late breaking reservations, etc. I realize that conferences do that already with championship games. However, that's two teams that have to prepare for one indeterminate game. This system appears to result in uncertainty for the entire conference.

I think I would prefer a system based on the previous years results in which a better finish produces a theoretically more favorable schedule (with protected rivalries, etc). This gives developing teams a goal beyond just getting a bowl game. Even if you finished 2-10 the prior year, doing well and getting to 5-7 is rewarding and provides incentives for the following year. Of course, I have no idea how to actually implement this.


April 21st, 2010 at 11:21 AM ^

I skimmed pretty fast, but I did not see where the unbalanced home and away scheduled would get balanced out. With our new unbelievable home feild advantage (noise levels going up and all) I would hate to get short changed on home games.. especially compared to another divisional team. Other than that, I am good with it and find the 16 team conference idea interesting.


May 1st, 2010 at 3:07 AM ^

switching Indiana and Illinois and switching Purdue and Northwestern. The Old Oaken Bucket rivalry >>> whatever it is that Illinois and Northwestern play for. Also, they're next door to Ohio State (if it matters at all, I doubt we'll be so lucky to see the Big Ten expand into four neat little geographic knots), and if Moby Dick is Notre Dame, it probably makes more sense to shovel the three Indiana schools into one division.

Actually, it might not be bad to put Illinois where you have Maybe Nebraska so the two Big 12 schools are together. (And if the other one is Missouri, then Illinois-Missouri would probably be a protected rivalry.)

It's not a bad layout, though. I like the "crazy" ideas (i.e. anything other than tradition) because it's more fun to speculate about things like relegation and playoffs than to guess which opponent Michigan will protect in the two-division format.