FanPost

How to schedule a 16 game conference schedule

I think everyone believes it is a foregone conclusion that we will have 16 team mega-conferences. We can fantasize about what we want it to be like and who should be included and who should be kicked out. But bottom line is that there are 3 conferences that aren’t going anywhere (PAC, Big 10, SEC) and it looks like the Big 12 is going to join that list.

Postulating on which teams will move where is a fun exercise. But I’m more concerned with the scheduling. I like the way the 12 team leagues are setup: a football player in a 4 year career will play every team in the conference at least once. Extend that to 5, and they’ve played in every stadium. Everyone likes the traditional rivals that the past years have forged. So the question is how best to keep rivalries intact and make it so that you at least regularly play the other teams in the conference.

My proposal: the pod system.

This rests on 2 assumptions

Dynamic scheduling is a possibility & Divisional realignment can be done every year (this is the key part)

First – setting up the pods. For this example, I will use the SEC with 2 additional teams: Virginia Tech and NC State.

Pod A: LSU, Arkansas, Texas A&M, Missouri

Pod B: Alabama, Auburn, Ole Miss, Mississippi St

Pod C: Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, NC State

Pod D: Vanderbilt, Tennessee, Kentucky, Virginia Tech

This doesn’t preserve all rivalries (and I know what the feeling of this site is of losing Bama – UT) but it preserves many. Some had to be sacrificed and so some were. On the 2 additional schools, it works out nicely as long as 2 from the east are added:

Second – Scheduling

Prior to the start of each year – decided long in advance – two pods will combine to become 1 division. That pairing will last for 2 years (home and home) and then will rotate. For example, the first two years, the divisions will basically be the current west and east (pods A&B and pods C&D). Each team will play the other 7. But the next two years, the divisions will consists of pods A&C and pods B&D Using this format, each team will play a home and home versus all schools every 6 years.

year division makeup
1 AB & CD
2 BA & DC
3 AC & BD
4 CA & BD
5 AD & BC
6 DA & CB

So what about the 8th game?

The 8th game would be the final game of the season. There are 2 options for this games – one of which would require the SEC to petition the NCAA for an exemption.

After playing 7 “divisional” games, there will be a ranking of teams 1 – 8:

AB CD
1 LSU Georgia
2 Alabama Virginia Tech
3 Texas A&M South Carolina
4 Arkansas Florida
5 Auburn Tennessee
6 Mississippi St NC State
7 Missouri Kentucky
8 Ole Miss Vanderbilt

Which yields this result:

A B C D
1 LSU Alabama Georgia Virginia Tech
2 Texas A&M Auburn South Carolina Tennessee
3 Arkansas Mississippi St Florida Kentucky
4 Missouri Ole Miss NC State Vanderbilt

Option 1: No NCAA exemption

To the best of my knowledge, this would work fine under the current NCAA rules.

Each team plays one of the other pods (AvC and BvD) in inverse ranking order and home field would switch between year 1 and 2:

  • LSU @ NC State
  • Texas A&M @ Florida
  • Arkansas @ South Carolina
  • Missouri @ Georgia
  • Alabama @ Vanderbilt
  • Auburn @ Kentucky
  • Mississippi St @ Tennessee
  • Ole Miss @ Virginia Tech

Then after the 8th game the winner of the “divisions” advances to the championship

Pros:

  • Scheduling parity – more games in common among divisional foes.
  • Strength of Schedule doesn’t matter – same as it is now

Cons:

  • Away ticket sales – becomes tougher to schedule to travel the last game of the season
  • Potential for a 5/3 home/away split instead of 4/4 (make up revenue with non-conference games)

Option 2: Conference Playoff Edition

Season results are the same as above. Except this time, the NCAA has given us a waiver on championship game requirements listed in NCAA rule 17.9.5.2

Each team still plays one of the other pods (AvC and BvD) except this time in actual order headlined by these 2 games:

  • LSU @ Georgia
  • Alabama @ Virginia Tech

The winner of these two games advances to the conference championship. BAM! SEC playoff. The other games would also be played:

  • Texas A&M @ South Carolina
  • Auburn @ Tennessee
  • Arkansas @ Florida
  • Mississippi St @ Kentucky
  • Missouri @ NC State
  • Ole Miss @ Vanderbilt

year division makeup 8th game
1 AB CD A@C B@D
2 BA DC C@A B@D
3 AC BD A@D B@C
4 CA BD D@A C@B
5 AD BC A@B C@D
6 DA CB B@A D@C

Pros

  • Gives the ability for a rematch in the SEC Championship game if the best 2 teams were in the same division (but not pod)
  • 2 highly ranked SEC teams playing each other at the end of the year in a conference championship type atmosphere (play one at 2:30 and one at 7:30)
  • Strength of schedule is through the roof for the eventual SEC champion
  • TV ratings bonanza
  • Scheduling parity among teams in the pod

Cons

  • Gives the ability for a rematch in the SEC Championship game if the best 2 teams were in the same division (but not pod)
  • Away ticket sales – becomes tougher to schedule to travel the last game of the season
  • Potential for a 5/3 home/away split instead of 4/4 (make up revenue with non-conference games)
  • Potential for 2 best teams to meet in semi-finals (no different than now)
  • Requires the NCAA to sign off on it (which could happen if there were multiple 16 team conferences)
  • A weak pod winner is 2 games away from SEC championship (pod D currently)

Trying to have two 8 team divisions becomes a nightmare when looking at 16 team conferences and so few games to be played. Without a system similar to the pods, we might as well split up into two 8 team conferences and have no "cross-divisional" play. The pod system allows us to keep the conference meaningful and expand to 16 (or even 20) teams.

FanPosts are just that; posts created by the fans. They are in no way indicative of the opinions of SBN and the authors of Roll Bama Roll.

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