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The End of Conference Divisions?

By on May 27th, 2014 in Football 17 Comments »

What if the recent arguments over conference scheduling didn’t matter? That could well be the case if the Atlantic Coast Conference has its way. Last week, a story surfaced that’s gotten very little attention until now.

The ACC has submitted a proposal to the NCAA that would allow conferences to do away with divisional play and still allow for a conference championship game. The proposal would also eliminate the need for conferences to have 12 member schools in order to host a championship game.

The original rule was put into place years ago and became a prerequisite to hosting a championship game.

Now the ACC wants to change it. And it merits some serious discussion. Under the proposal, conferences could determine their own method for selecting the participants in conference championship games.

Instead of the SEC taking the winners from the East and West Divisions, they could opt to take the top two ranked teams. Last year, that would have meant a rematch of the Iron Bowl, but truthfully, how often would something like that happen?

More importantly, it would eliminate the need for the 6-1-1 SEC scheduling format that’s become so controversial. It would allow Auburn an opportunity to possibly resume its annual rivalry with Florida while maintaining the annual Georgia game.

For the record, Auburn is the closest SEC campus to Florida, yet the two will only meet on the field every 10 years or so in the regular season.

The change could open up all kinds of scheduling opportunities for SEC programs. Of course, it would guarantee its own set of problems. As with the current format, scheduling inequalities would be hard to manage.

The chances of it passing seem good.

CBS columnist Dennis Dodd writes, “The measure is thought to have wide-ranging support among FBS conferences because it is largely non-controversial. It is known that the 10-team Big 12 would prefer deregulation if it ever decided to play a championship game with its current 10-team alignment. The league staged a championship game from 1996-2010.”

Most conferences would likely welcome the change because it would guarantee the two top-rated schools facing off in the conference championship games and increase their (the conferences) chances of getting one of the four playoff spots.

The NCAA is expected to discuss the issue at its next meeting in August.


  1. KungFuPanda9 KungFuPanda9 says:

    Those of us who follow the SEC religiously realize that the West has had more powerful teams than the East in recent years. Tennessee is just a faint glimmer of its past glory. Kentucky, well, thank God for basketball. South Carolina has never beaten Auburn in most of our lifetimes. Florida has been struggling these last couple of seasons. Mizzou looked like the real thing, as long as they were beating teams from the East. But reality asserted itself against Auburn in the SEC Championship game. Vandy was showing signs of life, and then Franklin ran off to greener pastures in Penn State. Georgia looks good sometimes, but seems to flop when the lights are brightest.

    The West has fielded the best teams in the SEC for several seasons now. And we often read that “it’s cyclical, things will even out.” Okay, we’re waiting. Meanwhile, the East gets to play for an SEC Championship with sub-par teams.

    Now for the Grumpy Old Man “Get off my lawn” segment. I loved the SEC when we had 12 teams. It seemed like the perfect set up. But, I understand everyone is chasing crystal footballs and TV money. These two aspects of college football have changed the game as we used to know it. And while we gained more access to attaining national glory, we have lost the charm of local traditions. Unfortunately, “the arrow of time only points one way.”

    • KoolBell KoolBell says:

      There was a time that UGA and Florida were very strong teams every season, and as to UT, they have won a BCS Championship. That cycle was not that long ago that the East was equal to or slightly better than the West.

      ‘Sakerlina took down the tide a couple seasons ago as well. I don’t EVEN want to talk about our struggles with Vandy, but, I just did…..

  2. restless6 says:

    I like this proposal. Not only will a series with Florida resume, maybe the Turds would actually play Carolina, Florida and Georgia in the regular season.

  3. AETiger AETiger says:

    Anything that gets us back to playing our historic rivals of UT & UF, I am in favor. I do not give a rat’s a** about playing Arkie, Ole Miss or TAMU yearly. Think about it, the recent expansion gave us TAMU instead of UT & UF more often; plus playing UGA AND UA on the road in the even years. How in the world did our administration allow this to happen? For all the good Jay has done in the last couple of years, allowing AU to have to play two top ten teams ON THE ROAD every other year is unbelievable. It makes no sense. You tell me of any other team that has to do this, not only in the SEC, but anywhere at any level (high school, college, pro). No other team has to play their biggest rivals ON THE ROAD every other year. Absolutely nuts. Come on Jay & AU leadership; change it.

    • KoolBell KoolBell says:

      Two things were behind the decision to accept the road woes on even years. #1 was $$$$MONEY$$$ and a distant 2nd is the satisfaction that comes from taking them both down 😉

  4. AUcideng42 AUcideng42 says:

    Deregulating the CCGs is long overdue. It could guarantee a marquee championship game for all conferences the last weekend of the season which would mean even more quality games for the fans. Hopefully this doesn’t mean too many rematches.

    If the change is approved, my hope is that the SEC gets more creative with scheduling. Something like a 5-3 conference schedule (5 permanent opponents independent of division and 3 rotating) would allow all schools to keep/renew their major rivalries while still playing all conference teams at least every 3 years under the 14 team 8 game structure. (E.g.: AU could play UGA, bama, FL, TN, and/or the Miss. schools every year then rotate through the rest.)

    But I’m probably getting my hopes up…those in charge wouldn’t do something that makes this much sense. With the new 6-1-1 format pretty soon the East and West will feel like different conferences.

  5. Tigerstripe Tigerstripe says:

    One of the possible downsides would be if the top 2 conference teams played each other late in the season or at the end and still were the top two conference teams. I guess they would have to play each other two weeks in a row…

    I’m ready for the NCAA to do what’s best for the conference as a whole and not the universities that have the biggest lobbyist. Make the playing ground fair for all and quit chasing the money (yeah, I know, not going to happen). Even if we lose our coveted rivalries games. It’s time to move on.

  6. Pine Mt Tiger Pine Mt Tiger says:

    I agree with most of the commenters here about playing traditional rivals AND the SEC giving it’s two best teams a shot at the NC. But at the same time I hate to do away with the possibility of teams having a chance of winning SEC Division championships. An SEC Div Championship means more than other schools winning their conference’s championships.

  7. AubieCE AubieCE says:

    Bama will be renewing their Vandy game and looking fondly at the KY rivalry that is so dear to their hearts….

  8. WarEagleEngr says:

    I’ve never understood why conferences are free to do as they choose regarding scheduling, divisions, tournaments, etc. in basketball (and I don’t know, in other sports as well?) but the NCAA rules football with an iron fist. The SEC eliminated its basketball divisions a few years ago with no issue. Why is it different for football?

    And what would Auburn’s revised schedule look like if this comes to pass? Surely we’d have Bama, UGa, UF, and probably UT on the schedule every year. How would the other opponents rotate?

    • LSU Jonno says:

      I think that’s the point. Auburn wouldn’t have all of those schools every year. Auburn would pick Bama and UGA every year and rotate everyone else. That means you play teams like UF (traditional rival) just as often as LSU (new rival).

      You also get to play teams like Vandy and Kentucky just as often as LSU which means the schedules should balance out. Everybody wins.

    • AUcideng42 AUcideng42 says:

      After making my comment above I started thinking about what the schedule would look like for all SEC teams, and I came to the conclusion a 3-permanent, 5-rotating format was superior to 5-3. By matching up geographically close teams with emphasis on historical rivalries (which for the most part correlated…imagine that!) I came up with the following permanent schedules:

      Alabama: Auburn, Tenn., Miss. St.
      Arkansas: LSU, Missouri, TX A&M
      Auburn: Alabama, Georgia, Florida
      Florida: Georgia, USCe, Auburn
      Georgia: Florida, Auburn, USCe
      Kentucky: USCe, Vandy, Tenn.
      LSU: Arkansas, TX A&M, Ole Miss.
      Miss. St.: Ole Miss., Missouri, Alabama
      Missouri: TX A&M, Arkansas, Miss. St.
      Ole Miss.: Miss. St., Vandy, LSU
      USCe: Kentucky, Florida, Georgia
      Tenn.: Vandy, Alabama, Kentucky
      TX A&M: Missouri, LSU, Arkansas
      Vandy: Tenn., Kentucky, Ole Miss.

      I know this isn’t quite perfect as I’d be sad to see LSU-bama and LSU-AU go away, and it doesn’t bring back AU-Tenn. But the coolest part of a 3-5 schedule like this is YOU PLAY EVERYONE IN THE CONFERENCE EVERY OTHER YEAR!! It solves the 2 biggest gripes I have with the present division format: travel distance for annual rivals (why is Mizzou in the East Division again?) and the fact that it takes an eternity to rotate all conference opponents.

      • WarEagleEngr says:

        I like the 3-5 idea. It would also seem to allow for balancing out strength-of-schedule discrepancies. (which should make Les Miles happy)

      • DBAU81 says:

        I like this a lot.

        Regardless of what scheduling format is ultimately adopted, doing away with the divisions seems to be the logical starting point. It just seems like there’s so much dissatisfaction with the current system that some kind of change is likely. Let’s hope so anyway.

      • mvhcpa says:


        That is a great plan. I see now that 5 rotating games through 10 rotating opponents means only two off years in a row, with two on–heck, that’s almost like playing a team every year, with no hiding and no real rivalry losses!

        Michael Val
        (who sees that this is almost like the old seven-game schedule with 5 permanents and 2 rotators used from 1987 to 1991–you played EVERYBODY every four years)

  9. wde1988 wde1988 says:

    This wouldn’t be an issue if SEC powers that be moved Auburn to the East and Mizzou to the West. Personally – I like the division make up. And I can’t speak for anyone else – but – I don’t care to EVER see another bama – LSU NC championship game after the two teams have already played in regular season. Should never happen unless they are in two seperate divisions. That year made absolultely no sense. Lose to them in the regular season… have a decent record and beat them in post season… get a championship??


    Anyway, I can’t believe the ACC is even getting press. But they did win the NC last season so I guess they get their due. I hope it is short lived.


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