Mountain West Conference Expansion Checkup: The Altered Schedule


The MWC Expansion Checkup will happen every Friday and will feature topics of MWC Expansion.

Note: This was written before the gigantic news about the hypothetical Pac-16...


In the comments of recent posts about expansion, questions and speculation about what are the options for the schedule, what is the best schedule type and which will happen. I'm going to try to answer those questions for all of you, although most of you probably will disagree.

Schedule Types

For this first type of schedule, I give credit to pappyman (a member here at Mountain West Connection) for coming up with this idea.

10 school division

This first schedule type is for if the MWC expands and adds only Boise St. to make 10 schools. This scheduling type is based off of the chance of the NCAA Bylaw that states you must have 12 teams and 2 divisions in order to have a championship game gets changed. The Pac-10 is currently pushing for this to happen, and if it does, it makes the schedule type viable. The idea is we have two divisions with 5 teams in each:

Mountain Division Western Division
Air Force Boise St.
BYU New Mexico
Colorado State San Diego St.
Utah TCU
Wyoming UNLV

Each team would play every team in it's division once and play four out of the five teams from the other division each year. The team that they miss each year would rotate, and the winners of each division would play the MWC Championship game one week after the regular season ends. So for instance, Boise St's first conference schedule in the MWC might look like this:

Opponent
Utah
UNLV
Wyoming
New Mexico
TCU
San Diego St.
BYU
Air Force

This kind of schedule satisfies a lot of issues with the new schedule. For one, schools might be concerned with a true round robin of 9 conference games a season, especially Air Force who would only have one non-conference game a year to schedule because they play Navy and Army every year. With only having 8 conference games, the big teams would only miss out on each other twice every five years.

Another issue is that if we were to expand to 12 teams and move to a Big 12 style schedule, or not created divisions with the 10 teams but still gone with an 8 game conference schedule, the big rivalries would not have stayed intact. For instance, the annual Border War, BYU-Utah game and CSU-Air Force game would have been canceled for a few years under the Big 12 style schedule and would disappear once every nine years under the 8 game conference schedule with out divisions. By putting in divisions and purposely keeping rivalries intact in the divisions, you do not have to worry about that.

One of the main problems with a true round robin was that since the all the top 25 teams would be pitted against each other, more losses happen and worse BCS rankings come about hurting our chances at a BCS Automatic Qualification. This issue could also be solved if for the first season with Boise St. in, each of the top 25 teams are purposely made to miss a game with the one of the other top 25 teams in the other division. If this happens, then we would get better BCS Rankings just for the year that we need them in order to get a BCS AQ.

The rest of the schedule types, which is the best and which will happen after the jump...

True Round Robin

Another schedule type that is an option if the MWC only adds Boise St. is a true round robin. As I went over before the jump, there are some issues with a true round robin, but there are some benefits to it. A true round robin is a conference schedule in which every team plays each other each season, that means no missing games. Here is what Utah's conference schedule in 2011 would look like:

Opponent
BYU
UNLV
TCU
San Diego St.
Boise St.
New Mexico
Air Force
Utah
Wyoming

This kind of schedule probably would hurt our BCS AQ chances a lot because the BCS rankings for 2011 would be lowered from all the head to head matchups. The good news is for all the schools that suck at football, they would get a guaranteed game against at least one of the four top 25 teams at home. When ever you, as a bad football school, have a top 25 team at home, you sell a lot of tickets and sometimes make double the amount of an average game. So as far as athletic departments for the bad teams go this would be a good format. For the top 25 teams, this would be bad because you have less of a chance of making it to a BCS Bowl, which brings in a lot of cash.

The Normal Schedule

The next kind of schedule is one with 10 teams, no divisions and 8 conference games. In this kind of schedule, you would miss a specific team every nine years. Here is what TCU's 2011 conference schedule would look like:

Opponent
Utah
San Diego State
Air Force
Colorado State
Boise State
Wyoming
UNLV
BYU

This kind of schedule presents a lot of benefits. For one, you would have less of a gap between missing teams than you would in the 10 school division format. Instead of missing a team in the other division every five years, you miss every nine years. This kind of format also satisfies the issue of only three non-conference games. As I discussed above, having only three non-conference games limits what the schools can do athletically. This kind of schedule also guarantees a home game against a top 25 school for the bad football schools. The Normal Schedule may have a lot of benefits, but it has a downside too. For one, in-conference rivalries would not happen once every nine years and rivalry games, whether the teams are good or bad, generate a lot of revenue.

 

 

The Big 12 Style

This format is for if we expand to 12 and add Boise St, Houston and Fresno St. This is basically a carbon copy of what the Big 12 does for its scheduling. We set up the divisions as North and South, like the Big 12. Here are what the divisions would look like:

North South
Boise St. UNLV
Utah TCU
BYU San Diego St.
Air Force Fresno St.
Wyoming New Mexico
Colorado St. Houston

Here is what Houston's first MWC Conference Schedule would look like:

Opponent
San Diego St.
Air Force
New Mexico
Boise St.
Colorado St.
UNLV
TCU
Fresno St.

The Big 12 Style schedule presents a lot of problems. There is no balance in the divsions, the MWC North seems to be like the Big 12 South, stranding TCU with no for sure games against the rest of the top 25 teams. This also creates issues reagarding rivals. In-Conferernce Rivalries would be cut off and as I said before, rivalry games do bring in a lot of cash for the schools, whether they are good or bad. This type of schedule is one of the worst out of all the schedules I am presenting.

 

 The ACC Style

Just like the Big 12 style, this schedule is for if we expand to 12, not just 10 schools, and just like the Big 12 style, this a carbon copy of what the ACC does. The ACC's division model has no regard for geography and is based on the caliber of the teams when the ACC expanded. So here is what the divsisions would look like in the Mountain West Conference:

Mountain Pacific
Boise St. TCU
Utah BYU
Air Force Wyoming
Fresno St. Houston
Colorado St. UNLV
New Mexico San Diego State

 The scheduling format for the ACC isn't what you would consider normal. Basically what happens is you play everyone in your division once, have one permanent rival in the other division and rotate the final two conference games in the other division. So if San Diego State was Fresno St.'s permanent rival, this is how Fresno St.'s first MWC conference schedule would might look like:

Opponent
Boise St.
Air Force
Houston
New Mexico
San Diego St.
Colorado St.
TCU
Utah

 The ACC Style has a lot of benefits and problems to going with this kind of schedule. For one, this takes care of rivalries even though divisions aren't based on rivalries or geography. This makes divisions balanced as far as competition goes but does not guarantee the six marquee football matchups between Boise St., Utah, BYU, and TCU. TV Contract Negotiations will not reap as much cash because the MWC can not guarantee those games. The good news is that it keeps the rivalries intact, and that was an issue with some of the other schedules.

The Alternating Schedule

The Alternating Schedule is for a 12 team conference in which we have expanded to add Boise St., Fresno St., and Houston. The idea is just for scheduling in the ACC Style divisions. So once again, here are the divisions:

Mountain Pacific
Boise St. TCU
Utah BYU
Air Force Wyoming
Fresno St. Houston
Colorado St. UNLV
New Mexico San Diego St.

Ok, so here comes the scheduling change. In the ACC style, I showed that we would have less power when negotiating for a new TV Contract, this change will solve that. In order to preserve the 6 marquee games, the better competition teams will have their schedule different from the other teams. Now I know what your thinking... The marquee teams can become bad and ruin the scheduling. That is why to determine who the four marquee teams are, whoever finished in the top two in combined division standings in the past four years gets to be considered a "marquee team."

First is how a marquee team's schedule would work. Basically you play everyone in your division once, the other two marquee teams once and the other four teams from the other division are rotated to play a marquee team once every four years. So BYU's 2011 conference schedule would look like this:

Opponent
San Diego St.
TCU
New Mexico
Houston
Boise St.
Wyoming
UNLV
Utah

Next is how a non-marquee team's schedule would look like. You play everyone in your division once, if you are up to have a conference game against one of the marquee teams, then you play one of the marquee teams for that year and that takes up one of your three out-of-division games. Overall you have 3 out of division games and the other 4 teams in the other division are randomly chosen for the games leftover from not playing the marquee teams in that division. So New Mexico's 2011 conference schedule might look like this if they were first up to play TCU:

Opponent
Wyoming
Air Force
Fresno St.
Colorado St.
Utah
TCU
San Diego St.
Boise St.

This kind of schedule takes care of a lot of problems with the ACC schedule. It solves the problem with the ACC Style schedule that in TV Contract Negotiations you would not be able to guarantee the six marquee games. The only issue with this schedule is that it breaks up some rivalries. You are not guaranteeed a game for some of the rivalries in this kind of schedule and that hurts the bad football schools.

 

 

 

 The Best Schedule Type for the Mountain West Conference

 For a 10 team conference

The best kind of schedule for the MWC would be the 10 school division. It takes care of all the "issues" I have listed and that makes it the best. Too bad that it probably won't happen, since it requires the changing of that NCAA Bylaw, it probably won't happen. Other than that, the Normal Schedule seems to be the best. It keeps the amount of non-conference games at four, not screwing Air Force like the True Round Robin would. It also guarantees those 6 marquee matchups for at least five straight years out of every nine years. So the 10 School Division is the best, but it probably won't happen. So in that case, The Normal Schedule is the best.

For a 12 team conference

The Alternating Schedule would be the best for the MWC. It makes sure that there are the six marquee games for TV Negotiations and yet evens out the divisions. Although this style does hurt some rivalries, the amount of cash that would come in from having a bigger TV Contract would out number the amount lost from not having the rivalry game. This Schedule type makes the most sense when you look at all the numbers.

 

Which Schedule Type will be implemented when expansion is over?

True Round Robin

The MWC needs as much conference exposure and this gives them the most for their TV Deal. The MWC doesn't like the idea of skipping games every year very much and the is ultimately what will cause this decision. The Mountain West Conference Comissioner Craig Thompson is probably going to try and make this conference look and act like a BCS Conference and the only other conference that has 10 schools is the Pac-10 and they have a true round robin. I truly do hope that I am wrong about this, but I think this is what will happen.

 

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