OT: Pac 12 = three divisions?

Submitted by Rasmus on July 27th, 2010 at 2:01 PM

The Pac 1012 is in the news today as they look forward to possibly creating a BTN-like network.

It strikes me that they have a natural three-division alignment:

  • Washington, Washington State, Oregon, Oregon State
  • California, UCLA, USC, Stanford
  • Arizona, Arizona State, Utah, Colorado

Surely there is some way to make this work. They already have a nine-game conference schedule in place, so it seems simple -- you play three games in each division each year and you don't play a championship game. There might even be some fair way to use the divisions in a tie-break formula, I'm not sure.

Note: Although I favor two divisions and a championship game for the Big Ten, the above could also work for us (although it would not be as geographically elegant), precisely because there would be no championship game. So it wouldn't really matter if one division is far weaker than the other two:

  • Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State, Penn State
  • Illinois, Northwestern, Indiana, Purdue
  • Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, Nebraska



July 27th, 2010 at 2:23 PM ^

Purdue AD Morgan Burke:

"Your problem when you go to the championship game, in talking to the leagues that have it, it’s a great event, people will really enjoy it, but the losing team is probably still a pretty good team, and their fan base may or may not find the desire to travel to a bowl game. If you can get the championship game in a central location that people can drive to, maybe you don't hurt your bowl chances. ... There’s still some [coaches] who would argue, 'Take another bye week and end the season later and end it on your traditional [rivalry] game.' You become relevant in December, but you do it without adding the conference championship. ... The tendency would be to go with a championship game, but I'm leaving a place marker out there."


July 27th, 2010 at 2:27 PM ^

That argument doesn't make up for the $15 million or so a championship game is worth. The majority of the Big Ten (or at least a significant minority) would have to be willing to turn down about $1.25 million annually if they didn't want a championship game. And this doesn't even begin to address the fact that 12-1 teams with a win in their conference championship game (i.e. the 12th win is almost always a major resume builder) are far more likely to be invited to the BCS championship than an 11-1 team.


July 27th, 2010 at 2:13 PM ^

What's the point of having divisions if you don't have a championship game? Might as well just have predetermined "rivalry" games that you play every year.


July 27th, 2010 at 3:55 PM ^

I think it would give the schedule a little more of a sense of order. You basically have three annual rivalry games, that is, against your division. For teams not in your division, you will have played at least two of their three rivals each year (once every four years you will have played all three of their rivals but not them). As I mentioned, I'm not sure but I think this structure could maybe be used in a tie-break formula. Three divisions keeps each team's two missed opponents every year in separate divisions, a fact that seems possibly useful.


July 27th, 2010 at 2:23 PM ^

Three divisions offers absolutely nothing from a competitive standpoint and would make a lot of people angry. In both sets of divisions, one division would hold the prime recruiting ground for the conference (Pac 10: Southern California, Big Ten: Ohio and Pennsylvania), thus irritating the other eight teams and competitive balance would be completely shot.

Also, the Pac 10 promised to put Colorado in what will become the south when they invited them.


July 27th, 2010 at 2:31 PM ^

Easy solution to the Championship Game problem:

Winner Division 1 goes to CG: Washington, Washington State, Oregon, Oregon State

Winner Division 2 goes to CG: California, UCLA, USC, Stanford

Winner Division 3 gets the annual 3rd place award: Arizona, Arizona State, Utah, Colorado

Talk about crappy competitive balance between divisions.


July 27th, 2010 at 2:33 PM ^

Three divisions does not work.  Pac-10 went on record saying that they planned on having a championship game (they're exploring sites such as the Rose Bowl, Glendale, and Qwest Field, as possible venues, possibly on a rotating basis), and 3 divisions really defeats that purpose.

Your proposed alignments may work geographically, but they kill certain schools recruiting wise.  Washington (in particular) as well as Oregon recruit Southern California very heavily.  As do both the Arizona schools.  In such an alignment, these schools would not play an LA school every year, and could go up to 4 years between trips to LA.  That's why many were in favor of a zipper alignment where UCLA and USC are separated.  That way you play one of the LA schools every year and guaranteed at least one trip down there every 2 years.

Three divisions have no benefit, except for the fact that 12 is divisible by 3.


July 27th, 2010 at 4:01 PM ^

1. I see now my post is really about things you can do if you don't have a championship game. Three divisions make no sense if there is a championship game. I thought I made that clear, but I could have done a better job of emphasis.

2. On playing the LA teams -- huh? -- you'd always play at least one of them, and half the time you'd be playing both of them. Intelligent home and away scheduling by the conference could keep the years when there is no trip to LA to a minimum -- certainly nothing like the four-year gap you mention. I'm no math whiz, but I think at worst there would be no trip to LA once every four years. This is no different than any other scheme in that respect -- nothing can change the fact there are nine games and eleven opponents. Let's presume the Pac 12 will not be led by total morons.


July 27th, 2010 at 4:44 PM ^

In all fairness I reread your OP and you did say that it would happen if no championship game was played.  I just think Larry Scott has made it pretty clear that that there will be a championship game, especially with the added revenue from the game, and it's value to the tv contracts that the Pac-10 hopes to renegotiate next year.

Re: playing the LA teams, I'd imagine they'd try to schedule it favorly to the non-CA schools, but scheduling can be tricky to do, and it's not necessary that you'd always play by at least 1 of them.  A team in the top division could play the other 3 schools in their division, Cal, Stanford, and then play the AZ schools, Utah, and Colorado.  There they wouldn't play either UCLA or USC.  Ideally, you'd want to coincide USC and UCLA schedules so that you'd cover all the remaining teams, but that may not always be feasible.  I just think that some years, 1 team might be left out.

Regarding, playing in LA every four year, you're right, it likely won't be repeated four year gaps between trips to LA.  But I can come up with a scenario where a team like Oregon is in year 1 not playing either of the schools, in year 2 has UCLA at home, in year 3 has USC at home, and in year four is at UCLA.  That's certainly feasible, and would mean only 1 trip to LA in 4 years.


July 27th, 2010 at 3:10 PM ^

I think 6 divisions would work way better. Each team secretly chooses an opponent to be paired with. If two teams secretly choose the other, they form a division. When teams don't choose each other, they all write their name on a piece of paper and put it in a hat. Two papers are randomly drawn and those teams are put in a division together. You could even split these 6 divisions into 2 mini conferences if you wanted!!!1!1! 

Obviously, no championship game is sensical but there may exist some mathematical constructs that allow you to identify the best two teams at the end of a season. I'm not sure though.

Note: This idea applies to the Big 10 as well, although the divisions could possibly span many states geographically. My only other worry is that some divisions (Illinois - Northwestern) may end up being significantly inferior to others (Michigan - Ohio State).


July 27th, 2010 at 3:56 PM ^

You could even split these 6 divisions into 2 mini conferences if you wanted!

You could even split those 12 sub-divisions into offense and defense and play a game at a different time of year, perhaps at the end of spring practice. What, they already do that?

Edit: Oops, this should have been a reply to TNT's "no way dude".

Super J

July 27th, 2010 at 4:08 PM ^

They are offically announcing today the name will be Pac12 as soon as Utah and Colorado are in.  Plus later today they will show the new logo.  Link to come.


July 27th, 2010 at 4:08 PM ^

Three divisions could work with a CCG if you have a 4-team conference playoff, with the three divison winners and an at-large. It's not ideal, but it's doable.


July 27th, 2010 at 5:13 PM ^

For serious... are the SoCal schools going to be in a division with the Arizona and mountain schools? That would be the logical north/south split.