Radical Realignment Revised? (Part I)

It has turned out that the most controversial portion of my radical realignment proposal has been the idea of establishing the Midwestern Conference.  I wrote separately to defend the makeup of the new league and I drafted a specific response to certain objections raised at Around the Oval.  

Although A.T.O. appears to have found my response persuasive, additional constructive criticisms now have been offered at Maize n Brew, where the proprietor, a fellow attorney whose on-line handle is U.M. Chicago, has raised two major objections of his own which warrant responses.  

I'm out of order?  I'm out of order?!?!

First of all, he is opposed to the idea of hosting a conference championship game.  Secondly, he is against my proposal to replace Northwestern with Miami (Ohio).  Because U.M. Chicago made these points in separate postings, I will answer his legitimate criticisms in the same manner.  

Regarding his first complaint, U.M. Chicago does not mince words.  He writes:  

I am not a fan of conference championship games.  The way college football is currently run, teams now have 12 games to cram into a three month span.  Then, provided they've had a good enough year, they play a 13th game in some temperate southern or western city in late December or early January.  As if that's not enough, some conferences have a championship game to decide their conference champion because wins and los[s]es apparently aren't enough.

I agree.  I have always been up front about the fact that I am opposed to a Division I-A college football playoff and there is no getting around the fact that conference championship games are playoff games that are capable of producing exactly the same aberrational results that I denounce all playoffs for producing.  

A quick review of the roll of Big 12 champions reveals just how preposterous the results of conference title tilts can get:  Texas, not Nebraska, in 1996; Texas A&M, not Kansas State, in 1998; Kansas State, not Oklahoma, in 2003.  A great deal of carping and complaining accompanied the Cornhuskers' trip to the national championship game in 2001, but, heading into bowl season, Nebraska was the only Big 12 team with just one loss.  In any year prior to 1996, no one would have had any doubt that the Big Red Machine was the best team in the league.  

Any system that allows this man to win a conference championship is, by definition, flawed.

I share U.M. Chicago's view that the team with the best record in conference play at the end of the regular season ought to be crowned as the league champion, as has been the case in most conferences for most of the history of the sport and is still the case in such leagues as the Big East, the Big Ten, and the Pac-10.  

I would love to see the S.E.C. go back to the pre-1992 way of doing things, particularly since U.M. Chicago's proposal to pare the Southeastern Conference back to 10 teams probably also would mean a return to the seven-game conference schedule, which would enhance Georgia's ability to renew the traditional series with Clemson and resume the historic practice of interregional scheduling.  

So, if I agree with U.M. Chicago in principle, why am I proposing a dramatic departure from what I actually believe?  He already answered that question for me:  

Mind you, none of what I'm saying here will ever come to pass.  There's too much money in the patsy games, the conference championships, and the 12th, 13th, and 14th games.  The colleges and the NCAA will never pass on them.  However, slimming down the conferences would be better for college football tha[n] the bloated excess that currently reigns.

He is right, both theoretically and factually.  Yes, it would be better that way . . . but it's never going to happen.  Despite the fact that my radical realignment proposal never will be implemented, either, it at least has the virtue of evening up the arrangement of the conferences under the current regime.  

Although Bob Stoops was quite wrong when he argued for Oklahoma's inclusion in the 2003 B.C.S. championship game, he had a point when he said that either every conference should have a championship game or no conference should have a championship game.  I share U.M. Chicago's view that the better way of implementing Coach Stoops's suggestion would be to eliminate all conference championship games, but, since that ship already has sailed, I have proposed that we level the playing field in the only way presently possible.  

Mary-Louise Parker shrewdly eschewed making her position on a playoff known before the election.

As an aside, I would add that my view of conference championship games is a great deal like my view of overtime in college football:  I don't like either of them in principle, but, given that we have them, I find them quite exciting and entertaining.  In the abstract, I believe they detract from the legitimacy of the sport, but, now that they're here, I enjoy them immensely.  

I have only offered a summary of the views expressed at Maize n Brew, but the full posting deserves your review and reflection.  I would encourage you to drop by there, if you have not already, and read U.M. Chicago's piece in its entirety.  I will respond to his other critique, regarding the relative merits of Miami (Ohio) and Northwestern, when time permits.  

Go 'Dawgs!

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