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Prove It
It will happen.  It would have come to pass already if not for NCAA rules.  3 have done it.  All voice at least some regrets.  It is no longer a matter of if but when

It may be spurned by the lure of added revenue from 1 additional game.  It may be spurned by the need to expand the BTN audience.

Sooner or later, expansion will come and the Big 10 will adopt its own Conference Championship game.

Here's why I will hate it, in no particular order.

1. How will they be split?

I don't want to follow the path of the Big 12 who split rivals Oklahoma and Nebraska into different divisions.

But if you don't, which teams do you split?

North-South and you split OSU-Michigan.  I think not my friend.

East West might be fine for a few Wisconsin fans who don't care about great match ups, but does Indiana and Purdue wants to join OSU-tSUN-Michigan State-PSU?

Forget about geographic division.  When you divide otherwise, a new problem emerges - how long will it be an even split?  Teams rise an fall over time.  An even split today may be lopsided in 10 years.

2. Ambiguity - half a conference

Then there's the other issue - why split?  Why just compete against half a conference?  You can call it a conference, but the reality is that you are competing against half a conference and hopefully 1 game.  It doesn't matter how well you do in the conference as a whole, just win your half the conference and 1 game and you are conference champ.

How is this an improvement?

3. Loose match ups

Now teams face their rivals every year, the rest of the teams 3 out of 4 years.  In a division setting they only face non-division teams half of the time.

I look forward a lot of conference match ups, not all involving my favorite team.  I am certain every Big 10 fan has their own list. 

4. Who gets added?

They will look for 2 things: expand the regional influence, and recruit a team with some commonality with the rest of the Big 10.  PSU was a natural.

Everyone says Notre Dame.  Forget it, they aren't shopping for a conference in the foreseeable future - not so long as they can negotiate such favorable bowl guarantees and still get a huge chunk of the BCS bowls revenue (even when they don't appear).  Even if they went conference shopping, the Big East has an upper hand and a history of providing 1 big name team with additional financial incentives.

Syracuse is the next most frequently mentioned team.  Not exactly beefing up the conference, nor do they have a particularly strong football following.

Louisville?  Rutgers?  West Virginia?  Somehow none of these feel to be the same fit PSU was, nor is it known if there is any interest on their part.

5. Ambiguity - It is further from apples to apples

I am a huge fan of playing round robin in a conference.  I consider nothing better than getting 1 and only 1 shot at each team.  I hated to see the Big 10 drop to 8 conference games, and considered a further distance from round robin the sole drawback from adding PSU.  Nothing is more valid, certainly not the conference title game with its lackings listed here.

80% of the Big 10 teams face off each year, compared to 75% in a division structure.

If they don't face off directly, Big 10 teams share no worse than about 88% common opponents (more than enough to make an apples to apples comparison), compared to 75% in a division setup.

Within the same division, you average just over 80% common opponents, perhaps less than 63%, and pretend they play the same schedule to determine which of 6 teams move on to the conference title game.

How is this an improvement?

6. Ambiguity - Repeat Games

How often does a title game clutter rather than clear the issue of conference champion?  I am not talking about artificially labeling a team champion while simultaneously ignoring the rest of the conference play, I am talking about conference records and heads up play. 

1. Just under 50% chance the teams in the title game are facing off for the 2nd time.  Just under because the fact 1 team hung a loss on the other decreases the chance they will meet again.

2. Just under 50% chance they finish the 2 game series 1-1.  Just under because it is unlikely the teams are perfectly evenly matched.

If you make the odds of overcoming the loss 40%, and the division champions are within 40/60 of being evenly matched then you still have the conference champion going 1-1 against the team that lost in the title game approx. once every 6 years.  Hang all the tags you want to on a game, 1-1 is still an even record.

3. When the 2 teams go 1-1, just under 50% chance a team won the 1st match on the road, and then lost in the Conference Championship game.  Just under because the road record is worse than the home record.

If you again place the home field advantage at 60%, about once every 15-16 years on average not only did they go 1-1, the team not crowned the Conference Champion had a harder road to an even record, needing to win on the road.  Is the Champion better or are they just the product of fortunate scheduling and winning 1 game at a neutral location?  Isn't going 1-1 more impressive if your win came on the road in the 1st match up?

How is this an improvement?

7. The ambiguity doesn't end there

Now the real zinger - the conference champion may not have the best conference record.  They may not even be close, benefiting from playing in a weaker division and getting 1 big win in 1 game.

Anyone can win 1 game, reference Pittsburgh and Stanford.  Why live with this in declaring a "Conference Champion" when better options exist?

8. Unresolved ties aren't a common occurrence

I have no problem with accepting the 1st commonly applied tie breaker between teams with equal records - heads up play.  This is infrequent so no need to go to the next tie breaker - record against common opponents.  The odds this won't resolve the issue are slim.

1. Straight odds say 2 teams won't meet once every 5 years.  We're already down to 20% (less than the chance the conference champ went 1:1 against the other division champ).

2. Multiply this times the odds another team will have the same record.  I have no idea what the math is here, so I will guess 10 in 9.  (10 other teams, 9 possible records?) (I know - this is simplistic - the odds are fatter in the middle near 4-4, slimmer near the ends at 8-0 or 0-8, so this will make the estimate of having an unresolved tie greater than it really is - in fact it increases the chance).

3. Finally there's the chance they will both be in 1st.  Again, don't know the math here, so I will go with 2 in 11 - likely a high estimate.

My odds are off (sorry to my 6 readers - not really into calculating odds tonight).  Near as I can estimate it is far less than once every 25 years.  Far less frequently than the ambiguity provided by 2, 5, 6, and 7 above.

Not exactly a pressing need for a new system, but a substantial reason not to change.

9. My preferred solution when they expand

1. Forget the concept of Divisions regardless of a title game.  This diminishes (though it doesn't eliminate) the prospect of having a team without the best conference record holding the conference title.

2. Return to a 9 game conference schedule.

You play a higher percentage of the other teams - the apples to apples improves, the chances of 2 teams with the same schedule finishing tied for 1st drops (far less than once in 33 years), and the chances of it having an impact on the NC game drops (less than once in 90 years).

3. In most years (far better than 32 out of 33 by my calcs) the decision would have already been made in the regular season in this format, so scrap the Conference Title game which as I showed is more likely to result in an ambiguous champion than a tie between teams that didn't meet heads up.  Who cares about a thrice in 100 year event?

Although this is misleading.  I do have a higher preference - the conditional title game.  If and only if 2 or more teams tie for 1st with equal records, did not play each other, and had the same record against common opponents, a title game is played.  The location is the conference stadium closest to the geographic center between the 2 schools in question.  It is not a great money maker, but there are some huge stakes (BCS bid) and it doesn't require a lot of set up.

No unresolved ties unless you have 3 or more teams with the same best conference record and no resolution by the above 2 tie breakers (what are the odds - far less than once in a lifetime?).  No 1-1 champions.  No champions with anything less than the best record.  How sweet is that?

10. Here's why it won't happen

Money.  Money from the conference title game and money from the non-conference game.  You know my opinion from my The Pi??ata is a Dead Horse blog - financial concerns are valid.

11. To those who did stumble in here

This is a homer post and a group blog.  There is nothing in the tags or the title to draw you in.  Do whatever you want in your conference - I don't care nor is it any of my business.

If you think it is an advantage, keep it to your conference.

If you think it has disadvantages, obviously I think you're right.  You reap the financial rewards, so suffer the detriments.  Nobody forced you to start a title game, nobody forced you to continue it, and nobody is forcing you to keep it.

Besides, sooner or later the Big 10 will be doing the same.

Until then, keep your poisoned system out of my water shed - my next door neighbor will poison my well soon enough.


Like I said, I didn't feel like doing the math.  If some one does drop details of the math below and I will add it above and herald your name in the body of this blog for all 6 of my readers to see!  I am looking for the math here folks, not just someone listing a few occurrences (it doesn't take much to throw off the odds of a once in 25 or 75 year occurrence).

Friendly Reminder - This is a Prove It blog, not a bastion of free speech.  As a courtesy to my 6 readers, leave an idiot comment and I will zap it or trash you with facts as the mood hits - either way, at best it is a waste of your time.  Thanks for reading.


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