Thursday, April 16, 2015

Is Friday the new Thursday?

Lately, I’ve noticed an increase in Friday night games.  Just a few years ago, this was seen as a “mid-major” night, given the nature of Friday night to carry some of the lowest ratings on TV. Thursday nights, however, has been seen since the mid-late 90’s as a College Football equivalent of “Monday Night Football” – a prime non-Saturday game of the week – and has been filled much more often by major conference teams.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Conference Championship Games: Battle of the “Best”?

With the Big 12 Commissioner’s statements about Conference Championship Game (CCG) deregulation, fan discussions have started once again regarding how these championship games ought to be.

What if the ACC had three divisions?

“I think there’s some belief that ACC would play three divisions, have two highest-ranked play in postseason.” --Bob Bowlsby, Big 12 Commissioner and chairman of the new NCAA Football Oversight Committee.

I shouldn't even give this topic a lot of thought, since it's just a theory proposed by the commissioner of another conference.  Especially when said commissioner didn't have the guts to declare a clear cut champion in his conference immediately after implementing the slogan of "One True Champion."

The biggest problem the ACC has faced with their championship game is that usually one division is stronger than the other in any given year.  Most often, the top two teams in the conference are in the same division.  For the last couple of years, it's been Florida State and Clemson.  Before that, it was often Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech.

The other problem that the conference would face would be the game of hot potato that one division (usually the Coastal) likes to play with the divisional championship.

Trying to implement 3 divisions would be tricky, especially in a 14 team conference.  Is the ACC trying to force Notre Dame into full time membership, or are they looking at another school to get to 15?

So, let's see who would have been in the ACC Championship game over the last two seasons with this three division mess.  For the purposes of this exercise, we're going to go with the actual conference records, even though they probably wouldn't be playing the exact same teams.  (And as usual, only conference records matter in these scenarios.)

Let's try a mostly geographic breakdown.

North - BC, Syracuse, Pitt, VT, UVA
North Carolina - UNC, NC State, Duke, WF
South - FSU, Miami, GT, Clemson, Louisville

In 2013, the division champs would be Virginia Tech (5-3), Duke (6-2), and Florida State (8-0).  The top two would give us Duke vs. Florida State, which is what we got.  In both scenarios, Clemson (7-1) gets left out.

In 2014, we would get Pitt (4-4, plus head-to-head over BC), Duke (5-3), and Florida State (8-0).  The top two would again be Duke vs. Florida State.  The real life game was FSU vs. Georgia Tech (6-2).  Once more, Clemson (6-2) gets left out in both scenarios, although it.

However, knowing what we know about the ACC, they would never go for this sort of alignment.  After all, they put Florida State and Miami in opposite divisions expecting them to battle for the conference championship every year.  They want to come up with some alternative to get Florida State playing Clemson for the championship currently.

Basically, FSU, Clemson, and Miami would be in separate divisions, because the ACC wants a combination of those three teams in the title game.

Seminole Division - FSU, NC State, Louisville, Pitt
Hurricane Division - Miami, UNC, BC, VT, UVA
Tiger Division - Clemson, GT, Duke, Wake Forest, Syracuse

(For the record, I don't endorse this as a real divisional plan for the ACC.  I just needed something that divided the teams that made some bit of sense other than geography.)

2013 would have given us Florida State (8-0), Virginia Tech (5-3, plus head-to-head over Miami), and Clemson (7-1).  This would finally give us the FSU vs. Clemson match-up, and would actually be the top two teams in the conference.

2014 would have had Florida State (8-0), either UNC or Boston College (4-4, no head-to-head), and Georgia Tech (6-2, plus head-to-head over Clemson).  Again, we would have gotten the FSU/GT game.

Let's take it further back.  We'll go to 2012 with the non-geographic divisions, but with some tweaking to account for only the 12 team league we had back then.

Seminole Division - FSU, NC State, Maryland, UNC
Hurricane Division - Miami, BC, VT, UVA
Tiger Division - Clemson, GT, Duke, Wake Forest

We would have Florida State (7-1), Miami (5-3), and Clemson (7-1). Again, we get the FSU/Clemson match up that was so desired.  The real life game was FSU vs. GT, partly due to sanctions on Miami and UNC.

Of course, these examples aren't perfect because changing the divisions would change the makeup of the schedule.  Overall, it just looks like needlessly overcomplicating what should be a simple procedure.