Never mind all the faults of the BCS system; the organization of conferences into divisions needs to change first. The goal of this post is to demonstrate exactly what the title says. Let’s just examine this issue theoretically at first. Say you have a 12 team conference, which is divided into two divisions of 6 teams. The winner of each division (e.g. the team with the best record against its divisional opponents) will play each other to determine the best team in the conference.
It’s possible that the top 2 teams in the conference are in one division; let’s assume this happens. This means that in the regular season, the best team will likely beat the second best team. Then, when it comes time to play for the conference championship, the best team will play (at most) the third best team for the trophy! This is because since the two best teams are in the same division, the winner of the other division can, at best, be the third best team in the conference. Am I the only one that thinks this is completely asinine? Isn’t the point of a conference championship game to allow the two best teams to play for the championship?
In a given year, it’s theoretically possible that the 6 best teams in the conference are in one division, with the 6 worst teams in the other. This would mean that the best team in the conference would play the 7th best team (!) for the conference championship. Obviously this is highly unlikely to occur, but this wouldn’t even be possible if it weren’t for divisions.
Unfortunately, this issue isn’t theoretical at all. It happened just last year in the SEC.
Morris Claiborne, pictured above, was the best member of a secondary unit that will probably put an absurd 5-6 guys in the NFL before all is done. His top ranked LSU Tigers beat Trent Richardson’s Crimson Tide (pictured below) in the regular season.
Because LSU and Alabama are both in the SEC West, however, Alabama didn’t get to face LSU again in the SEC Championship game. Instead, LSU beat a clearly outmatched Georgia team 42-10 (I know it was close for a while, but Georgia had nothing on LSU).
Alabama and LSU were the two best teams in America last season. There is (somewhat) objective proof, since they played each other in the national championship game. They were certainly the two best teams in the SEC. Both teams have truckloads of NFL bound talent, and both teams increase their talent levels by very unethically toying with kids’ scholarships. In short, both teams were stacked and both absolutely demolished the rest of their SEC foes in blowout fashion. Each teams’ average margin of victory against SEC competition was roughly 25 points. May I remind you again that the SEC is the toughest conference in America. In any rational person’s view, Alabama and LSU were 100% the two best teams in their conference.
Why, then, did Alabama not get a chance to play for the conference championship game? The foolish organization of divisions. Alabama would go on to win the national championship, but it didn’t even have a shot to play for its own conference championship. That, to me, is asinine.
The reason this bothers me so much on a personal level (other than being utterly stupid and irrational) is that with the recent addition of Nebraska, the Big Ten has moved to a divisional system: the much lamented “Leaders” and “Legends” divisions. I don’t want the possibility of my Wolverines to be the second best team in the conference and not get a shot in the conference championship game due to a foolish system.