by John Furgele
No matter how much complaining is done, the current system in college football is not changing anytime soon. I have asked for people to remain calm and accept the BCS for what it is. But, over the past several years, many conferences have added teams and now have conference championship games. The SEC Championship Game between Alabama and Florida was a de facto semifinal playoff game, while the Big 12 Championship Game was more of a play-in/elimination game for Oklahoma.
Along with the SEC and Big 12, the ACC, Conference USA and Mid American Conference all have championship games, but the six other conferences do not. That needs to change, and it is my opinion that all 11 should have conference title games, but the governing body of college football has to help out.
For starters, eliminate the stipulation that says that conferences have to have 12 teams in order to stage a conference championship game. Why that number? Why can’t the 10 team Pac-10 or the 11 team Big Ten have a title game? The NCAA allows the Division 1-AA 10 team SWAC to have one, so why can’t 10 be the number?
Only the PAC 10 and Big East has its members play a true round-robin of conference games. Ten teams, nine games, three non-conference games for the Pac 10; eight, seven and five for the Big East. The Big 10, which is not divided into divisions plays eight conference games, which means that there could be two 8-0 teams that tie for the conference title. There could also be two 7-1 teams that didn’t play each other during the regular season as well. Is that fair? Why not have two divisions, one with six teams, the other with five and play a championship game between the division winners? Even better, find a 12th team so there would be two six team divisions.
What college football needs to do is set 10 as the number to have a championship game. This means that the Big East needs to find two more teams, and Conference USA could lose two teams and still have 10 to play a title tilt. This would also mean that the Mountain West would need to find a team as would the WAC and the Sun Belt. Boise State would be a perfect fit for the Mountain West as they appear to have outgrown the WAC. Even the Bronco basketball team made the NCAA tournament in 2007-2008.
Of course, moving teams from conference to conference is a dizzying affair, and I won’t confuse, but it should be noted that Western Kentucky (the 120th Division 1 school) is slated to join the Sun Belt and there are three independents—Army, Navy and Notre Dame—sitting there conference-less. As long as NBC keeps wasting, err, throwing money at Notre Dame, the Irish will never join a conference, even though it is time that the Domers cave in and join one. Notre Dame, even though it makes a lot of money by staying independent is doing their football players a disservice by not being in one. They compete in the Big East in every other sport and those athletes get fitted for rings, but not the football players. Michigan can afford a loss to Notre Dame, because they have eight conference games that will determine what bowl game they go to, therefore the game means much more to Notre Dame than it does to Michigan. Not sure if that’s fair for the Notre Dame players.
Having 11 conference championship games would be fun and they could be spread out over the last Saturday in November and the first Saturday (or Friday) in December.
We may never get that playoff, but we could and should have more conference championship games.