NCAA Division I Council votes to allow conferences to select teams to play in championship games
May 19, 2022
The NCAA Division I Council voted Wednesday to allow conferences to determine which teams will participate in each of the organization's football championship games. The change will enable them to avoid playing a championship game between the same division, and it could also lead to the elimination of divisions.
The Power 5 conferences immediately responded to the NCAA's decision. Shortly after the council's announcement, the Pacific-12 said that starting in 2022, the championship game would feature the teams with the highest winning percentages.
The conference's goal is to have the top two teams in the NCAA football championship game. This will allow it to improve its chances of securing a spot in the College Football Playoffs. Pac-12 commissioner George Kliavkov said that the decision would increase the media value of the game and provide the league with the best opportunity to win the national title.
Reconstructing outdated league format
In a statement, Pac-12 explained how divisions maintained the conference title game's format over the past 11 years. For instance, in 2011 and 2012, the game featured two teams in the top 10 at that time, Oregon and Stanford. Without the divisions, those two teams would not have participated in the title game.
Pac-12 said that it first brought the proposal to the council's attention after receiving support from other major football conferences. According to the league, the proposal was supported by all FBS conferences.
Back in 2014, the Atlantic Coast Conference pushed for deregulation, claiming that each member institution should have the right to determine how the championship game would be conducted.
What to expect
The legislation that the ACC submitted to the council failed to pass. In 2021, league commissioner Jim Phillips said it would consider revising its proposal to eliminate divisions. This was the same idea that former commissioner John Swofford had suggested. The topic is only one of the many topics that the NCAA is considering when it comes to reforming its football division structure.
The league said that eliminating divisions would allow for more compelling games and provide the opportunity for multiple teams to participate in the championship game. Since the start of the College Football Playoffs, the ACC has made seven appearances, while the PAC has only made 12.
The elimination of divisions would also significantly impact the conference's schedule. According to the league, the current football schedule will remain during the 2022 season. However, the changes that will be implemented following that season will be discussed in the future.
The league's spring meetings were held in Florida. During the meeting, the members discussed the possibility of implementing a 3-5-5 format that would feature three permanent contenders per team. The other five teams would then be rotated between the remaining 10 members.
Although the ACC did not support the division format, it is believed to be implemented in the 2023 season.
One of the main factors that led to the council's decision was the opportunity for student-athletes to play every team in the ACC over four years. Phillips noted that this was a local decision that the league should make. The College Football Playoffs said that other conferences would likely h their own tournaments and format.