The NCAA is doing what is best for college football by scrapping championship game requirements

With conference governing bodies as diverse and diverse as college football itself, there’s no reason championship structures should all follow the same rules. In the end, those in power came to an agreement.

The NCAA Division I council voted to do so on Wednesday Scrap FBS Conference Championship Game requirements, paving the way for conferences to choose how they choose a champion. This will allow them to get creative when planning and choosing a champion, and they should take full advantage.

Literally minutes after the NCAA Council’s rubber stamp, the Pac-12 did just that by announcing it would Revision of his conference championship game by selecting the top two teams based on the conference win percentage. The Big 12 has long championed conferences with fewer than 12 members to set up a title game, inspiring the same #1 vs. #2 model. Some conferences may follow. Others might go in a different direction.

Central to the conference planning structure is the achievement of a specific goal: to enable the best teams to win as many quality games as possible. As five major conferences step into very different realities, their strategies should reflect this.

For conferences like Big 12 and Pac-12, creating a meaningful 13th data point remains a top priority. The Big 12 missed two of the first three College Football Playoff fields, and Baylor and TCU infamously split the vote in 2014 to finish 5th and 6th. Meanwhile, Oklahoma made three straight playoffs after the Big 12 brought back their championship game in 2017. The Pac-12 hasn’t made a playoff since 2016, but the overhaul of its title game should give contenders like Oregon, USC and Utah a clear runway to go to come back It helps maximize the chances of quality wins.

However, not every conference would benefit in the same way. Before missing the ACC Championship Game in 2021, Clemson had won his three previous title games by a total of 112 points. In a conference with no real peers, the Tigers’ quest was perfection. Beating Virginia in the 2019 ACC title would have done the same thing as beating Florida State in 2013.

Perhaps most importantly, the system opens the door to creative regular season planning. The ACC has already announced that it will explore a 3-5-5 system with three fixed opponents and five more rotating each year. The SEC is likely to consider a similar pod plan, with the league expanding to 16 by 2025. Perhaps extended partnerships outside of conferences or tournaments within conferences could come into play.

If administrators need a guide to understanding the power of flexibility, look no further than college basketball. The West Coast Conference tournament bracket had Gonzaga starting with the first places through to the semifinals. The Bulldogs had to win less than the half as many games as the #7 through #10 seeds to win the tournament. But if you are the WCC, why would you make Gonzaga’s journey harder than it needs to be?

Mid-major conferences are also smart with schedules. In an attempt to get the NCAA’s attention, the Conference USA developed a spreadsheet-driven scheduling format that groups the top five teams in the conference into a round-robin pod for the final segment of the regular season. That way, all five teams would get a big RPI boost with chances for quality wins in hopes of becoming a two-bid league.

As college football evolves, the calculus could change. If the college football playoffs are expanded, the SEC could choose to design the schedule to protect multiple competing teams. If a contender does not advance from the ACC, providing a showcase could prove more valuable. A group-of-five conference could grow to the point of having a borderline playoff team each season.

Ultimately, that’s the point. The NCAA Council’s decision to scrap conference championship mandates allows college football’s major conferences to make decisions for the right reason. This allows them to decide what is best for the game.

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