That’s the question that fans can now mentally masturbate to for the next several weeks and months. Even though the Big 12 is, for now, a round robin schedule, here is why it still needs two divisions: last year, OU-OSU played on the final weekend of the season. Oklahoma won 58-23. Without divisions, the top two teams would have played one week later in the Big 12 Championship Game. This Big 12 needs to prevent a repeat game in back-t0-back weeks. The only way to do that is by creating two five-team divisions and making sure that teams only play within their division on the final weekend of the regular season.

I realize this isn’t technically possible with an odd number of teams in each division. But, give two teams off the final regular season weekend, or schedule as such where the two teams playing an opposing division team are ‘unlikely’, heading into the season, of both being near the top of the standings. Using common sense, that isn’t hard to do.

If you’re asking me for a traditional model, here are some options that make the most sense.

North:

Iowa State
Kansas
Kansas State
Oklahoma State
West Virginia

South:

Baylor
Oklahoma
TCU
Texas
Texas Tech

Problem: It’s just like the old Big 12 divisional breakdown. Geographically, it makes perfect sense. But, the South Division is far superior. I realize there is an ebb and flow in all sports, but there is a pretty obvious difference in competition between the two. Then again, maybe K-State regains some magic, Oklahoma State is once again a 9-11 win team, and WVU and ISU pick it up a bit; while in the South, Texas stays mediocre and Baylor goes back to being … Baylor. I guess all that is all possible, but you’ll likely see folks complain about this.

Another model:

Big 8 Division:

Iowa State
Kansas
Kansas State
Oklahoma
Oklahoma State

SWC + WVU

Baylor
TCU
Texas
Texas Tech
West Virginia

Problem: I like this model more, but is it weird to have WVU (the most geographically displaced school in the Big 12), in with all the Texas schools? There are arguments on both sides. It makes total sense to put all the Texas schools together, but adding WVU with them feels random and out of place. Then again, Missouri is in the SEC East, and that sure makes zero damn sense. So, maybe I’m just looking into it too much.

Third model:

East:

Iowa State
Kansas
Oklahoma State
Texas
West Virginia

West:

Baylor
Kansas State
Oklahoma
TCU
Texas Tech

Problem: While this mostly does a good job breaking up rivals in to different divisions (which doesn’t matter since it’s a round robin schedule), it also feels off. First, if the Big 12 expands, then you have rivals who are not in the same division, meaning teams won’t play every team in the other division every year. Can you really not have OU-Texas every fall? Or Oklahoma-Oklahoma State? That doesn’t feel right.

Also, a minor note, but Waco is technically (as least as my eye can see), a touch more East than Austin. Do we flip flop them? But, with that being said, this appears to be the most ‘even’ of the three options to date.

BUT, why not really take this out of the box?

Why not make it so that the divisions reset each season? Think about it: the divisions are, more or less, worthless, since the Conference will continue to play a round robin schedule. While I believe the Big 12 has it’s eye on expansion, I believe that that is not happening in the immediate future. There are too many mediocre options, with no obvious ones.

How about mixing it up each season where the reigning champion and the worst team in the conference are in the same division. Then, you take the team that finished 3rd and 7th, along with the 2nd to last team, and put those five in one division.

Before you get confused, take a look at what the divisions would look like this upcoming season based on that idea.

big 12 2015

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Is it crazy? Too complex? People hated the Big 10 divisions when they were the Legends & Leaders. People wanted East vs. West. Well, that made it easier for people, but let’s be honest, the Big Ten West is a joke and an embarrassment. There are downsides to doing this by straight geography. The old Big 12 South knows that all too well.

If there is ever a time to test a whacky and different divisional format, why not let it be the Big 12. They have been behind the curve on most everything else regarding conference realignment the past few years. Maybe, they can actually be successful trail blazers on this front. If it is a colossal failure, who cares? They rotate back to North/South or East/West format that has become the staple.

But, here’s why it can work: the whole division idea is basically meaningless (as long as the Big 12 stays at ten teams). Everyone plays everyone, so the idea of breaking up into divisions for rivalry purposes and others doesn’t much matter.

Plus, this is the best way to create competitive balance. Sure, there is no way to predict how teams will succeed year-in, year-out, especially in college, when teams turnover every year. But, this is a pretty quality format. You take the team that finished 1st, 3rd, 7th, 9th and 10th the previous year and put them into one division. Then, teams that finished, 2nd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 8th go into another division.

It splits up 1-2, which also, by the way, creates a possible “race” for 2nd place in the division, as you would avoid the defending champs in the following year (at least from a standpoint of the division race, which could give a team a better shot at making the Championship Game the following season).

So, in theory, for the upcoming season, we would have Oklahoma, TCU, Texas, Iowa State and Kansas, and the other division would have, Oklahoma State, Baylor, West Virginia, Texas Tech and Kansas State.

I believe this would break up very well and would create equal competitiveness on both sides… at least as equal as one can be in preseason college predictions.

What do you think? Love it? Hate it?

Also, give us your suggestions for division names in the comments. Be as anti-PC as you want: Cowboys and Indians? Pistols and Muskets? Trump and Clinton? What do you think?

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