theknightswhosay

Posts Tagged ‘Mountain West’

2015 Final Conference Report

In College Football, Conference Reports on January 18, 2016 at 4:06 PM

This is my last regularly scheduled blog of the college football season. Five months go by so fast. Hopefully, I will get a chance to index things on here so they’re easier to find.

For the final blogger poll, click here.

I’ll get to the point now.

The SEC was #1 going into the bowls, so going 9-2 (counting the championship game) was obviously good enough to stay #1.

I do want to stress a little bit how impressive that is. Only one of the SEC bowl teams (Auburn, the worst of the SEC bowl teams) played an opponent that was not in a Power 5 (P5) conference.
Contrast that with the Pac-12, who played three non-P5 (Group of Five or G5) opponents in 10 bowl games.

(BYU isn’t in any conference, but it was most recently in the Mountain West and never has been a P5 program, so it’s classified in the G5 group.)

One of the Pac-12’s P5 opponents was Nebraska, who was granted a waiver as a 5-7 team because there were not enough normal bowl-eligible teams.

sec-pinwheel-logo

These were the match-ups for the SEC:
#1 vs. Big Ten #1 (then vs. ACC #1 in championship)
#2 vs. Big XII #2 (Ole Miss is counted as #2 because it got a better bowl selection than Florida; Oklahoma St. is likewise counted over TCU for the same reason)
#3 vs. Big Ten #4
#4 vs. Big Ten #5 (four teams went 5-3 in the SEC, so some of these will be debatable)
#5 vs. Big XII #7 (Kansas St. was actually #8 in the standings, but Texas did not qualify for a bowl game)
#6 vs. Big XII #6
#7 vs. Big Ten #7
#8 vs. ACC #5
#9 vs. ACC #9
#10 vs. AAC #5

These were the Pac-12 match-ups:
#1 vs. Big Ten #2
#2 vs. Big XII #3
#3 vs. Big Ten #6
#4 vs. ACC #6
#5 vs. Independent
#6 vs. Big Ten #8
#7 vs. MWC #2
#8 vs. Big XII #5
#9 vs. CUSA #2
#10 vs. MWC #3

I don’t look at margin of victory for the purposes of these rankings, but I think they do help show that most of these SEC bowl wins weren’t just luck.

The Big Ten ended up with a worse record than the Pac-12 even though Nebraska and Minnesota got to play in bowl games with losing records. The win by Nebraska was good, but you expect any but the worst Big Ten teams to beat Central Michigan. I would also give the Big Ten credit for not playing any other G5 opponents.

There was a clear enough gap between the Big Ten and the Pac-12 to begin with, so even if the bowls were harder, there isn’t any reason for the Big Ten to pass up the Pac-12. Also if you look at the apples-to-apples games, USC-Wisconsin was a 50/50 game and Stanford beat Iowa soundly.

The Big XII went 3-4 in bowl games, so likewise, I see no reason they should pass up the Big Ten.

The AAC only had two wins. Although both were against the ACC, the ACC still won four bowls. The two conferences were so close, I think that was enough to flip the two.

The other conferences were all within a game of .500, so there was no reason to make any other changes. The lower-ranked conferences don’t play as many bowl games, so those are a smaller percentage of overall games anyway.

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How I Would Reorganize College Football…… Part IV: West of the Mississippi

In College Football, Realignment on October 27, 2011 at 3:42 PM

Earlier Entries to Series:
Part I: Intro
Part II: SEC/Southern Conference
Part III: Big East/ACC Recombination and Big Ten+2+4

Only a few teams I’ve placed previously are West of the Mississippi: Arkansas and Texas A&M of the SEC (or soon-to-be); and Minnesota (which is actually on both side of the river), Nebraska, and Iowa of the Big Ten (+6). If you were wondering, LSU is entirely on the East Bank of the Mississippi.

Big 8/SWC Revival

Geographical notes out of the way, the more central part of the West seems the most problematic lately. Colorado has become a far-eastern outgrowth of the former Pac-10. Nebraska and Texas A&M, as mentioned, have been lost to the so-called Big Ten and SEC, respectively. There seem to be new rumors of defections and expansions every week. I don’t know if my proposal would make everyone happy, but I think it would work.

As before, there is one division on the left, one on the right…North and South work, could also be Midwest and Southwest or something of that nature. They’re lined up so that proposed annual opponents share the same line.

Colorado-Texas Tech
Oklahoma-Texas
Oklahoma St.-Tulsa
Air Force-TCU
Missouri-SMU
Kansas-Houston
Iowa St.-Rice
Kansas St.-Baylor

This is the easiest solution for the West-Middle (to distinguish from Midwest and Far West). Colorado could conceivably be replaced by BYU though. But since we’re talking about what my ideal would be, I’ll just concentrate on what I’m putting up there. The Northern Division is the Big 8, replacing Nebraska with Air Force to give Colorado a more local rival. There is also national interest in Air Force, and part of my idea would be to set it up in such a way that more out of place teams like that would want to be in the newly created set-up. I think pairing Colorado with the West Texas team is more helpful to both than the alternating home-and-homes of the Big XII.

The Southern Division is 7 Southwest Conference teams plus Tulsa. Rice might be a stretch to have in a major conference, but I think their history justifies inclusion in the top 80 to start with. There is no better place to go either to the West or to the East. I think it would make sense to see who does well in the lower divisions and have that make the decision though, even assuming Rice would eventually get demoted. Just some of the teams that would make sense if they were to get promoted from the bottom 40 grouping: La. Tech, Tulane, ULL, ULM, Arkansas St., Memphis, North Texas, New Mexico, New Mexico St., UTEP, Colorado St.

As far as the other permanent rivalries, Oklahoma-Texas is a given, and Oklahoma St.-Tulsa is obvious. Air Force-TCU would be a good MWC holdover. There is no real logic for the other 4 sets of permanent opponents. Missouri-SMU aren’t that far away from one another. I believe that trying to have a selection of teams close to one another is worth adding a little bit to the distance in the other “rivalries”. For example, Oklahoma St.-SMU and Tulsa-Missouri might be less combined travel distance, but I think Oklahoma St.-Tulsa is just more likely to catch on for obvious reasons.

Western/Pacific Conference

I continued to follow the North-South model for my first draft of the Far West/Pac-whatever group, with the Arizona-New Mexico and Colorado-Utah border as the basic dividing line. I had mentioned I didn’t like California teams being place in the North. So this is the first draft.

USC-Washington
UCLA-Washington St.
Cal-Oregon
Stanford-Oregon St.
San Diego St.-Boise St.
Arizona St.-Utah
Arizona-BYU
Hawaii-Nevada

As recent BCS teams that don’t fit elsewhere, Boise St. and Hawaii are sort of obvious as additions. A lot of Pac-10 teams played Hawaii anyway. Boise St. is a natural rival of the Pacific Northwest teams (and in their short history have played at least one of them fairly regularly). BYU has history as well as strong academics. San Diego is an under-utilized market. That was more about potential than how great of a program San Diego St. is right now, although it has been improving.

BYU-Arizona is a classic WAC rivalry, although I don’t remember Arizona being in the WAC. I thought Utah-Arizona St. made a good rivalry between big city teams that happen to be almost at the same line of longitude. I wasn’t completely insensitive to television markets. Washingon-USC seemed like it worked as well. Nevada-Hawaii is another traditional WAC rivalry. Nevada would also be the closest Northern team to Hawaii. Reno might even have direct flights. It seems like there has been more of a rivalry between Cal and Oregon at least until the last couple of seasons. Maybe Oregon and Oregon St. could be switched though.

Then I had another idea. What if I took more of the model from the Western-Middle/Big XII grouping? So why not just make it traditional and leave the former Pac-8 together. San Diego St. and Hawaii would be more out of place, but it might work. The names of the divisions could refer to the conferences from which the teams are taken, such as Pacific and Western divisions. They’re also vague enough titles that it wouldn’t be weird. Hawaii would seem silly in an Eastern or even Southeastern division.

USC-Hawaii
UCLA-San Diego St.
Cal-BYU
Stanford-Nevada
Washington-Arizona St.
Washington St.-Arizona
Oregon-Utah
Oregon St.-Boise St.

USC-Hawaii and Oregon St.-Boise St. have been playing one another with some regularity anyway. Cal-BYU might work. Mormons vs. Hippies. People talked about BYU being relatively incompatible with the former Pac-10, but I thought they could just embrace it. Stanford-BYU might not be bad either, with the private-school, named-after-rich-guy thing. Nevada would be a good permanent opponent for a Bay Area team since it’s basically the closest point in Nevada to the Bay Area. I went for another big-city nexus with Washington-Arizona St. They’re both NFC West cities, so there could be some carry-over from the NFL in getting fans excited. Oregon-Utah seems reasonable since I decided to pair Nevada and Boise St. with other teams. Also (if you count Portland anyway) quasi-big markets, big enough to support NBA teams (both in the same division as well). UCLA and San Diego St. both play in major stadiums in Southern California and are more populist teams. I think that would work well. I sense there might be less complaining by the more traditional Pac-10 fans in this format overall. The non-research-oriented WAC/Mountain riff-raff would be in the other division, so they wouldn’t feel as violated.

I have one more of these to do. Next time, I’m just going to talk about how I would organize the bottom-40 teams.

Welcome to 2011: Updates and Previews

In College Football, Me, NFL, Uncategorized on January 6, 2011 at 12:24 PM

I’m just starting to work on the all-important LSU-Texas A&M rivalry post. Obviously, I didn’t get around to any type of bowl preview or pre-bowl conference report, but I’ll at least to the conference report after the season.

The holiday season was a little crazy, first in trying to work ahead to make room on my schedule, then in getting ready to go back to Louisiana, then once I was there I got sick. Things have just calmed down enough and I’ve caught up on sleep enough that I can even think about posting things.

As far as the conference report, while the SEC hasn’t been exactly stellar in bowl games, the Big XII and Big Ten haven’t done well, and the Pac-10 didn’t have enough games. Also, the USC-Notre Dame game hadn’t been factored in previously. But those results, combined with successes by the Mountain West could mix up several of the other conferences.

I think next year I’m going to start posting NFL picks. I got about 10 games right per week (on weeks that I made the cutoff anyway) this year. Of course, I probably won’t do as well if I do that.

I just wanted to share these thoughts and let you know that I’m still here. And Happy New Year.

More Conference Changes? + My Bowl Projections

In College Basketball, College Football, Realignment on November 29, 2010 at 6:19 PM

Surprise, surprise, TCU is changing conferences again.

The Horned Frogs will join their fourth conference since the dissolution of the SWC in 1996. First, it joined the WAC superconference. Shortly after the MWC teams left the WAC, it moved to the CUSA. Then it jumped to the MWC. Now it will be in the Big East, starting in 2012.

I understand that football teams must start in a new conference by 2012 in order for its statistics to count in the new conference for BCS purposes. The current evaluation period is between 2008 and 2011.

It has driven me crazy that a team in Fort Worth, TX, belonged to the Mountain West Conference since they joined, but they’re moving to a conference that, at least as compared to the current MWC, makes even less sense geographically.

Plus, TCU has a basketball team, so that will be 17 members of the Big East. That’s beyond ridiculous. I think they should make it two separate conferences for the purposes of other sports. Will there now be a play-in game to reach the 1st round of the basketball tournament, where the four winners then get a chance TO PLAY FOR a spot in the quarterfinals?

The travel times listed below are based on Google Maps driving directions.

TCU will leave a conference whose closest rival was 10 hours, 19 minutes away to join one whose closest rival will be 13 hours, 48 minutes away. (South Florida, in Tampa, may be closer in the air than Louisville, but I’m not sure.)

The longest trip will be 28 hours away (it doesn’t give minutes when you go over 24 hours). In the MWC as currently constituted, the longest trip (San Diego St.) was 21 hours, 19 minutes.

But to be fair, it could have gotten worse had TCU stayed. Boise will be 26 hours away, but Hawaii (if they choose to join the MWC) would have been even farther away, about 2900 miles, almost 1200 more than the distance to Connecticut. There is of course no driving time to Hawaii. Confirmed new additions to the MWC, Nevada and Fresno St., would have also been farther away than any current MWC team.

Obviously, there are other reasons, but it’s interesting that three teams have now left the MWC since it was announced that Boise St. was joining. No one wants to play them, unless it’s another team that wants to go out its way to prove itself (I’m sure Fresno St., for instance, was happy to follow them to the MWC).

As I referenced in the second paragraph, I also read that apparently these moves are all about jockeying for automatic qualifier status. TCU’s BCS appearance last year will count toward the Big East, Boise’s will count toward the Mountain West, and Utah’s in the 2008 season will count toward the Pac-10.

Hawaii’s BCS appearnce in the 2007 season apparently doesn’t matter, so the WAC could really be deprived even if Hawaii stays. The WAC might be the new Sun Belt when all is said and done. Idaho, Utah St., and New Mexico St. were all Sun Belt teams at one point, incidentally. San Jose St. isn’t much better. Louisiana Tech (another severely out-of-place team) actually won the WAC in their first season in the conference, but it’s been pretty much downhill since then. Those five teams are the only ones left if Hawaii also leaves. Maybe they’ll add some California FCS teams, but I think the last thing we need is more FBS teams. The Sun Belt is getting bloated, maybe a some of them will go out West (there are two Louisiana teams and one Texas team who might go well with Louisiana Tech).

The Sun Belt is currently scheduled to have 10 football teams with the addition of South Alabama in 2013. I don’t know if Denver plans to field a football team, but they are moving to the WAC, where BYU will also play in sports other than football.

The Big East is also considering adding Central Florida and Villanova, should the latter choose to move up to FBS. Central Florida would increase the number of basketball teams to 18.

I don’t know if there is any interest in bringing Temple back to the Big East, but that would be a more logical fit than the MAC, especially since the Owls have been improved in the last couple of years. It would also be a good basketball program to add, though its previous membership in the Big East was football-only. Temple would also of course be a natural rival with Villanova. The teams have already played each other multiple times in recent years and have an intense basketball rivalry.

Bowl projections

National championship:
Oregon vs. Auburn

I don’t think either team will have it easy this week, but I expect both to come out on top. I just don’t think the opposition is good enough. On the other hand, just ask Bobby Bowden how tough it is to face a rematch with Steve Spurrier.

A Pac-10 or Big Ten national-championship-game team would automatically send TCU to the Rose Bowl. It’s not right for Stanford, but that’s the breaks. So the Rose Bowl doesn’t really get to pick a team.

So there is the second match-up: Wisconsin (projected Big Ten champion based on BCS standings) vs. TCU.

This would probably leave an automatic #4, probably Stanford, Oklahoma or Nebraska as the Big XII champions, Virginia Tech or Florida St. as the ACC champions, and probably either Connecticut or West Virginia (Pitt would only make it if both lose) as the Big East champions. This leaves open the possibility of two non-automatic at-large teams.

The Sugar Bowl gets the first two real picks, the replacement for Auburn and the regular first pick. I think they’d definitely pick Arkansas (leaving only one other non-automatic slot). They might like to pick the Big XII champion, but they’re contractually obligated to the Fiesta Bowl, so my guess is they knock out that last non-automatic spot and pick Ohio St. The Buckeyes were in a New Orleans bowl game in 2007 (the national championship game), but I still think the team and fan base are the most attractive option. I don’t think there is enough of a gap between Stanford and Ohio St. to ignore all the other positives for Ohio St.

So there is our third match-up: Ohio St. vs. Arkansas

The Orange Bowl will have the ACC champion automatically, and they’ll get to pick a second team. Especially if it’s Connecticut, I don’t think they’d want the Big East team instead, so my guess here would be they’d take Stanford. Even if WVU wins the Big East, I don’t know if you pick a team that’s 20 spots worse because their fans are better.

So the fourth match-up: ACC vs. Stanford

The Fiesta Bowl will automatically get the Big XII champion, and they’d be stuck with the Big East Champion, assuming no one else selects that team.

Fifth match-up: Big XII vs. Big East

Select other bowl projections:
CapitalOne: LSU vs. Michigan St.
Cotton: Oklahoma St. vs. Alabama
Outback: South Carolina vs. Penn St.
Peach: Virginia Tech vs. Florida or Florida St. vs. Mississippi St.
Gator: Florida or Mississippi St. vs. Illinois or Iowa (The Ron Zook Bowl sounds interesting, but if it’s Mississippi St., they might go with Iowa instead)
Alamo: Texas A&M vs. Arizona
Insight Bowl: Nebraska vs. Michigan
Texas Bowl: Baylor vs. Illinois or Iowa
Holiday Bowl: Missouri vs. Washington
Champs Sports Bowl: Notre Dame vs. U. Miami (I don’t know why they’d pass that game up, I don’t care how bad Miami looked against South Florida)

I also think it would be interesting if maybe the Sun Bowl (which used to be somewhat important) matched Notre Dame and Boise St., since there aren’t enough Pac-10 teams and Notre Dame can go to the Big East bowls, but Notre Dame would probably prefer not to play Boise St. anyway. It would be a shame for Boise St. to have to play a team that’s even worse than that. Boise St./Utah would be a good out-west game (the Las Vegas Bowl would be a possibility, since that’s another open Pac-10 spot), but Boise might be possessive and the Broncos could be stuck on the blue field for the Humanitarian Bowl.