There's been a lot of discussion as to how the Big 12 would split up the new divisions when the Big 12 championship game arrives. An article from Sam Cooper of Yahoo! Sports adds an interesting twist: Changing the divisions each season based on the final standings from the year before. You should read the article, but I’ll sum yup the most interesting points real quick:
1. Teams finishing 1, 3, 5, 7, and 9 would be in one division, the even number finishers would be in the other.
2. To prevent the two title teams from meeting only a couple of weeks apart, teams would play non-division games earlier in the season and division games later.
This is a pretty out of the box idea for the league, and could help keep divisions from getting too competitively unbalanced, but is it a good idea?
BUY OR SELL? THE BIG 12 SHOULD REDIVIDE THE CONFERENCE EVERY SEASON.
The whole point of this method is to keep a competitive balance in the league every year. If you divide geographically you run the likely risk of getting the old Big 12 again: A dominating South and a weak North. This "redividing" method keeps the top teams separated creating a higher likelihood of the top two teams actually facing each other in the title game as opposed to being stuck in the same divisions.
I went over the last four years of Big 12 standings (2012 was the first year with TCU and WVU as members). Pretending we had started this "redividing" divisions method after 2012, I came away with 2 seasons were the top two teams met: 2013 Baylor (11-2) vs OU (11-2) and 2015 OSU (10-3) vs OU (11-2). In 2014 though, the top three teams were all in the same division (BU, TCU, KSU) and an 8-4 OU team coming off that loss to OSU was in the Big 12 title game. I know this is only a three year sample, but lets be honest the top teams in the conference are the top teams. Yes there are outlier years, but the best always find a way to get back to the top.
This "redividing" divisions method also allows for a more shifting schedule. In theory the league would schedule non-divisional games earlier in the season and division games later to put as much time as possible between the rematch in the title game. This means we won’t have as many gauntlet stretches at the end of the season like last year. Kansas and Iowa State can come throughout the season instead of in back-to-back weeks creating a more balanced schedule.
If the whole point of adding the title game is to have that 13th point needed to reach the playoff, then this option makes sure that point carries the most weight it possibly can.
That one season, 2014, where the three top teams ended up in the same division seems like it might happen more often than we think. Let’s look at this year: One division would have OU, TCU, WVU, UT and ISU. The other would have OSU, BU, TTU, KSU and KU. With everything happening to Baylor and OSU’s up and down nature the past few seasons, there’s not much keeping the top two or three teams all being in Division 1 and an 8-5 OSU or Baylor in the title game. The problem with this method is it’s trying to predict the future based on the past. Yes we believe OU, Baylor, OSU and TCU are the four best teams. They are all one or two injuries (or worse, a good UT QB) from a disappointing season.
Then there’s the schedule. If the league does schedule non-divisional games earlier in the schedule, say bye-bye to late season rivalry games. Under this model, OU and OSU would have been in different divisions the past two seasons. That means we would have played early in the season. Hello, September Bedlam.
So what do you think, Cowboy faithful? Does the "redividing" method create a better chance of crowing the "One True Champion" or is this just going to blow up in the league’s face (like every other decision it’s made in the past 5 years)?