There are so many things that make college football so much more intriguing than professional football: the bands, state rivalries, and I personally love how college players are flagged for showboating (something the pro’s should do—a leap into the end zone is only necessary when dodging someone, and a victory dance just makes you look like an idiot).
Among all the things that will draw fans to hover around the TV in a few weeks, or stand in line to see a college football game, has got to be the non-conference matchups, at least that is one of my favorite parts of the collegiate sport.
Recently there have been polls for the public, concerning conferences like the ACC and the Big 12 eliminating their divisions and playing all 11 teams in the conference every year, like the PAC 10 and the Big East.
I personally hate this idea. 11 conference games would mean only one non-conference matchup, under the current 12-game format. I pose this question: If 11 conference games were played by the Big 12, ACC, Big 10, and SEC, how would conferences know how strong or weak they are if they do not compete with others?
Without home-to-home series like Ohio State-USC, how would we decide whom goes to the national championship at the end of the year if both teams go undefeated?
Many would argue that the probability of any given team going undefeated when playing every other team in the conference is very low, but for the sake of having fun, let’s be hypothetical a minute concerning the upcoming season.
The recently released USA Today/Coaches Poll will be our model.
The top four ranked teams all represent different conferences, and all four received first-place votes, indicating that whether it be small or large, there is a voice in the country that believes these four teams (Georgia, USC, Ohio State, and Oklahoma) have the ability to go undefeated and make it to the national championship.
Now, these votes are cast with the schedules the way they are (three or four non-conference and eight or nine conference), but for our analogy, we will apply these votes of confidence for these teams to a one or two non-conference and nine or 11 conference model.
So, assuming that these four teams do not meet each other in the regular season, and all four go 12-0, who plays for the national championship in this model? Many would say, No. 1 Georgia vs. No. 2 USC.
Because they won their conferences? Well, so did No. 3 Ohio State and No. 4 Oklahoma. Some would say that Georgia is a given because they won the hardest conference, but how would we know that the SEC is the hardest conference if they have not displayed their superiority over non-conference opponents?