Mountain West Eyeing No Divisions In 2023
Divisions are a thing of the past, hopefully
Best teams for the title game
It is official, Mountain West will not have divisions starting in 2023.
NEWS: Mountain West Announces Elimination of Football Divisions in 2023
— Mountain West (@MountainWest) May 20, 2022
Divisions in the Mountain West could be a thing of the past, according to a report from Brett McMurphy. The conference is looking to scrap the Mountain and West Divisions for the 2023 season.
— Brett McMurphy (@Brett_McMurphy) May 4, 2022
This is a long time coming and the only reason there have been divisions is because to be able to host a conference title game, a league either had to play a round-robin — that is what the Big 12 did when it dropped to 10 teams — or have divisions and the top finishers play each other.
It has been rare in the Mountain West that see a team with a better conference record miss out on the title game due to the division they were in. The best example was in 2014.
Which saw the Mountain Division have four teams with the same or better record than the West Division champion. If there were no divisions and the best two teams played that year, then the conference title game would have been Boise State vs. Colorado State in a rematch.
The main reason to drop divisions is that it will give the Mountain West a boost in opponents and help the league champion get into a New Year’s Six game, or in the future a playoff spot.
The 2020 COVID-19 season dropped divisions out of necessity as games were canceled and moved around, so it just made sense to not deal with divisions to play whoever was available.
A division-less format doesn’t mean play whoever because it would still make sense to have a rotation and also keep rivalries protected.
Pods Or Protecting Rivals?
The pod system isn’t new and our own Matt Kenerley about this a few years ago by piggybacking off of Bill Connelly’s idea of no divisions for college football. Plus, added a few tweaks of his own.
The idea is to keep protected rivalries so that teams like Wyoming and Colorado State could still have the Border War or UNLV and Nevada would still be going after the “Fremont Canon.”
An eight-league slate makes sense for the Mountain West and that would allow for three protected games and rotate the other five games.
One example from Kenerly’s piece is setting teams up in pods where they always play these three teams each year.
This list does a good job of setting everyone up so that the majority of the rivalries aren’t missed.
Air Force: Colorado State, New Mexico, Utah State
Boise State: Fresno State, Utah State, Wyoming
Colorado State: Air Force, New Mexico, Wyoming
Fresno State: Boise State, San Diego State, San Jose State
Hawaii: Nevada, San Diego State, UNLV
Nevada: Hawaii, San Jose State, UNLV
New Mexico: Air Force, Colorado State, UNLV
San Diego State: Fresno State, Nevada, San Jose State
San Jose State: Fresno State, Nevada, San Diego State
UNLV: Hawaii, Nevada, New Mexico
Utah State: Air Force, Boise State, Wyoming
Wyoming: Boise State, Colorado State, Utah State
Here is what a schedule would look like with these teams.
There would be a rotation of those five non-protected opponents similar to now how the opposite division opponents rotate every two years with new teams coming in after a home and home.
This makes a lot of sense and there are more creative ways in the pod piece which would leave an open week at the end of the season for what would amount to a semifinal of sorts of cross pod play.
However, don’t expect the Mountain West to get that creative. Expect the league to have a setup similar to what has been described with three permanent opponents and rotating among the other five.
This is going to be done with every conference at the FBS level as the NCAA is loosening up its title game format. This will make for more competitive conference title games and guarantee the two teams with the best record to be playing for that conference championship.