What if SEC eliminated divisions?

Tug Tide

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Aug 27, 2006
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Pretty interesting thought exercise on what would have happened if SEC divisions had been eliminated after 2014 expansion: https://www.espn.com/college-football/story/_/id/27759331/why-sec-needs-scrap-divisions-more-week-6-college-football-thoughts


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I think it’s a fantastic idea. I remembered reading a similar article a couple years ago and found it...
https://theroommateswitch.wordpress.com

This is a little more detailed explanation
 

Redwood Forrest

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Sep 19, 2003
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I don't understand the angst against divisions -- unless we go to round robin and play every team every year. Football keeps changing so that it doesn't matter to me one way or the other. I would be in favor of doing away with ALL CONFERENCES and everyone being independent. I would love to thy that.
 

selmaborntidefan

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I think it would be a good idea, but I also think it has zero chance of happening. The reason we don't have a nine-game SEC schedule nowadays is because the conference riffraff of Arky, the Mississippi teams, Kentucky, S Carolina, the Aggies, and Vanderbilt (that's fully half the conference, and you can include Mizzou)......they don't want it because there go those non-prestigious bowl games in luxurious holiday spots like Shreveport.


Those teams I listed above are happy with a 6-win season that ends with a bowl game. Right now they make it by scheduling 4 cupcakes (at least 3 and 4 for most of them) and hoping for a 2-6 conference record that puts them at six wins. Force them to give up cupcake for a good team they don't play every year (for example, force Arkansas to actually have to play Florida and/or Georgia in the same year several times), and they'll be 4-8 and watching the mediocre teams play during the Christmas vacation.

I also suspect the conference itself is wary because more regular season Alabama-Georgia games will both knock out one (or perhaps both) playoff participants out of the tournament as well as create what the Big 12 has now - almost guaranteed rematches for the conference title. The SECCG has been fortunate that very few of the games have been rematches. The odds of that increase dramatically when you don't have the participants locked into a divisional setup.


The interesting case cited in the article above is 2013.........does anyone really doubt that had we lost The Play That Shall Not Be Named game the way we did that we would not have absolutely rolled Auburn in a rematch? And taking nothing at all away from that Tigers team, I think that setup is what made the loss more devastating and the win more thrilling for Auburn, the thing that made college football what it was. (And while it is obviously painful to recall, I will confess a certain level of awe at the You Tube videos from the stands of both that play and Rocky Block - it captures the fervor of the live event, and it's one of those moments that are so rare in life).

That game is a fond recollection for Auburn fans and a nightmare one for us - but that really wouldn't be true if the two teams played a rematch seven days later.


Personally, I'm for it because it solves the most obvious problem of "but the two best teams didn't play each other." Let me give a good example of what I mean.


Imagine the year is 2008. Ole Miss loses to Wake Forest (which they did), Memphis (they won that one) and Florida (this was the famous Tebow Speech upset)......but knocks off #2 Alabama thanks to an obviously bad call, and the Tide runs the table. Because of the head-to-head, Ole Miss wins the West despite 3 losses to Alabama's one, two of those losses being pretty embarrassing. Imagine also that in the East, Florida goes 11-1 (as they did) with their only loss to Georgia (it was to Ole Miss as I said above).....whose only SEC loss is to Alabama, and the Dawgs are 10-2, with a loss to Ga Tech (which they did).


You now have a situation where the SEC has two of the nation's best teams (as they did in 2008), both with one loss.......and both sitting at home watching two-loss Georgia play three-loss Ole Miss to determine the best team in the SEC. And rest assured that if that had happened three times in a row, the SEC would have made the necessary changes then.

I'm generally against rematches in CFB because it tends to detract from the luster but.......I prefer rematches of the best teams in place of "well, the best team has to face somebody, so it may as well be the team that won solely on the basis of the divisional setup."


SEC TITLE GAME CHANGES IF THERE WERE NO DIVISIONS
(yes....I realize the schedules in more recent years with expansion would be somewhat different)
1993 - Florida vs Tennessee
1995 - Florida vs Tennessee
1996 - Florida vs Tennessee
1997 - Tennessee vs you tell me (four two-loss teams; UGA and LSU beat UF, Auburn beat UGA and LSU, UF beat Auburn)
1998 - Florida vs Tennessee
2001 - Florida vs Tennessee (the week after the makeup game from 9/11......)
2002 - Georgia vs Florida
2003 - LSU vs Ole Miss
2005 - LSU vs Auburn (SEC champion UGA does not even make the game)
2011 - LSU vs Alabama (presumably the Tide goes because of a better overall record????)
 

B1GTide

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Apr 13, 2012
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I would prefer that we get rid of conference championship games altogether. Expand the playoff to 8 teams. First round is played on conference championship weekend, then a re-seed and break until January, when the second round is played and the CFP plays out as it currently does. No more travel and expense for fans than the current model. Eliminates what is an unfair knockout game for the tougher conferences (like the SEC and B1G), and gives 8 teams a chance.

One caveat - no automatic qualifiers.
 

selmaborntidefan

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I would prefer that we get rid of conference championship games altogether. Expand the playoff to 8 teams. First round is played on conference championship weekend, then a re-seed and break until January, when the second round is played and the CFP plays out as it currently does. No more travel and expense for fans than the current model. Eliminates what is an unfair knockout game for the tougher conferences (like the SEC and B1G), and gives 8 teams a chance.

One caveat - no automatic qualifiers.

I have one slight disagreement and one contra point to make.

1) While I agree on dumping the title games, the SECCG is big money.

And unless you're going to play at the home team's stadium, you'll wind up with Alabama-Clemson in Atlanta for money's sake.

2) The bowl games, already hurting, aren't going to go for this, either.

3) My actual disagreement is this: I think the semi-final games should be played around 20 December or so (2 weeks)......and the title game needs to be moved to the final game on January 1. The Rose Bowl can keep their little self-contained party for earlier that same day - and, in fact, I don't even mind (since bowl selections would be after the round of 8) if Ohio St (or whomever) goes to Pasadena after losing a round of 8.


I don't disagree with your basic point but as you know, there are other....."interests"....that will fight this out.
 

BamaNation

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Apr 9, 1999
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SEC TITLE GAME CHANGES IF THERE WERE NO DIVISIONS
(yes....I realize the schedules in more recent years with expansion would be somewhat different)
1993 - Florida vs Tennessee
1995 - Florida vs Tennessee
1996 - Florida vs Tennessee
1997 - Tennessee vs you tell me (four two-loss teams; UGA and LSU beat UF, Auburn beat UGA and LSU, UF beat Auburn)
1998 - Florida vs Tennessee
2001 - Florida vs Tennessee (the week after the makeup game from 9/11......)
2002 - Georgia vs Florida
2003 - LSU vs Ole Miss
2005 - LSU vs Auburn (SEC champion UGA does not even make the game)
2011 - LSU vs Alabama (presumably the Tide goes because of a better overall record????)

Of course, the above assumes no divisions and no changes in scheduling.

Simulating what might have happened with no divisions AND scheduling changes probably produces significantly different results for at least the #2 team and possibly the #1 team, as well.

The major problem with no divisions is the "pods". In the example as described in the article, several are pretty weak.
 

imauafan

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Mar 3, 2004
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No, I think it is a bad idea for a number of reasons that I won't get in to but I do think the SEC needs to be more intelligent with how it schedules conference games. Some adjustments to the conference are needed:
  1. Move Missouri to the west and Auburn to the east
  2. Go to a 9 game conference schedule
  3. Get rid of the permanent opponent from the other division nonsense. It should not be a requirement for UA to play UT or AU every year. I know the SEC would never go for this since those kinds of games bring in a lot of money but IMHO it actually hurts the league as a whole since so much emphasis and hatred is on individual games within the conference.
  4. Do the best job possible to arrange the schedule so that no team is front-loaded or back-loaded with tough opponents (I know that is tough to do since a team can be good one year and not good the next such as MSU last year vs this year). The schedule should be re-adjusted annually instead of being fixed as it is now.
  5. Allow the teams to either play a cupcake school or have the week off before the SECCG.

The SEC is incredibly short-sighted and stubborn so these things will never happen but that would make the league even more likely to compete for the playoffs IMHO.
 

B1GTide

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Apr 13, 2012
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I have one slight disagreement and one contra point to make.

1) While I agree on dumping the title games, the SECCG is big money.

And unless you're going to play at the home team's stadium, you'll wind up with Alabama-Clemson in Atlanta for money's sake.

2) The bowl games, already hurting, aren't going to go for this, either.

3) My actual disagreement is this: I think the semi-final games should be played around 20 December or so (2 weeks)......and the title game needs to be moved to the final game on January 1. The Rose Bowl can keep their little self-contained party for earlier that same day - and, in fact, I don't even mind (since bowl selections would be after the round of 8) if Ohio St (or whomever) goes to Pasadena after losing a round of 8.


I don't disagree with your basic point but as you know, there are other....."interests"....that will fight this out.
I wa posing a system that works - that makes the sport better. I know that nothing that will actually make the sport better is ever a possibility.
 

selmaborntidefan

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Of course, the above assumes no divisions and no changes in scheduling.

Simulating what might have happened with no divisions AND scheduling changes probably produces significantly different results for at least the #2 team and possibly the #1 team, as well.

The major problem with no divisions is the "pods". In the example as described in the article, several are pretty weak.
Yes, and I "get" that - plus I kept it back during the 12-team era; 14 teams shakes things up considerably because you have 16 conference games to schedule, which necessarily revamps 16 others across the conference.

I totally understand WHY they do the divisions.....I'm just not sold on it.
 

bama61

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Aug 24, 2004
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Pretty interesting thought exercise on what would have happened if SEC divisions had been eliminated after 2014 expansion: https://www.espn.com/college-football/story/_/id/27759331/why-sec-needs-scrap-divisions-more-week-6-college-football-thoughts


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I'm genuinely doubt that such a change is even possible at this point in time because of contractual obligations. I have no idea what the constraints may be in the SEC's contract with ESPN, but I'd be amazed if at the very least it doesn't preclude any major changes to conference structure or without the agreement of ESPN. Further, with a plan that is providing a $40+ millions per year distribution to each member school, I would imagine that any proposed changes that don't carry a guaranteed financial reward have little chance of gaining the approval of the conference or it's member schools. I just don't believe that conference power as a whole contains nearly as many altruists as it does pragmatists. Cynical outlook? Yes, but then with apologies to all, that's me I'm afraid. Perhaps some of the attorneys among our group can provide more factual insight....
 

BamaNation

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I’m all for pragmatism over institutional altruism in almost every case.

I also concur that the big TV $ probably control most of what happens in college sports these days for better or worse. It’s good to be rewarded for being on TV so much but it’s a drug that institutions of higher learning no longer truly have control over.

Having long-term contracts gives both sides needed stability but also creates artificial constraints. It’s been an overall positive in the revenue generating and promotional opportunities for the SEC since 1992 SECCG. As sports have become almost the only must-watch-now (rather than later) programming and the SEC has produced the best overall talent, the programming value steadily increases.





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Crimson1967

Hall of Fame
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Boot out the four newbies and play a full round robin. No title game.


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BamaJama17

Hall of Fame
Sep 17, 2006
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No, I think it is a bad idea for a number of reasons that I won't get in to but I do think the SEC needs to be more intelligent with how it schedules conference games. Some adjustments to the conference are needed:
  1. Move Missouri to the west and Auburn to the east
  2. Go to a 9 game conference schedule
  3. Get rid of the permanent opponent from the other division nonsense. It should not be a requirement for UA to play UT or AU every year. I know the SEC would never go for this since those kinds of games bring in a lot of money but IMHO it actually hurts the league as a whole since so much emphasis and hatred is on individual games within the conference.
  4. Do the best job possible to arrange the schedule so that no team is front-loaded or back-loaded with tough opponents (I know that is tough to do since a team can be good one year and not good the next such as MSU last year vs this year). The schedule should be re-adjusted annually instead of being fixed as it is now.
  5. Allow the teams to either play a cupcake school or have the week off before the SECCG.

The SEC is incredibly short-sighted and stubborn so these things will never happen but that would make the league even more likely to compete for the playoffs IMHO.
How about nooooooo.....nothing is broken.
 

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