Subtle changes are made all the time in college football, but it's the wholesale changes that really help separate the men from the boys. Sometimes you have to revolutionize your approach in order to improve your product.
See: recruiting, the expansion craze, offensive philosophies, offseason schedules, rejuvenation tactics away from the field and satellite camps.
You simply can't fight change. Doing so is foolish. That's one reason the SEC has been so successful during the past decade. Those eight national championships in 10 years didn't just materialize overnight. Careful planning and excellent business sense from league officials, universities and coaches have helped the SEC rise above the rest in college football.
Thanks to the skillful mind of former SEC commissioner Mike Slive, the SEC has stayed ahead of the curve for most of the 2000's. New commissioner Greg Sankey is in the infancy of his reign as league commissioner, but if he wants to give the SEC another leg up on the competition, he could take a radical step into future planning.
Petition the NCAA to get rid of divisions in college football ... even though the SEC created them in 1992.
Honestly, what's the point? They are outdated, and hurt the conference more than help it.
But, Edward, what about traditional division rivalries? Why do you hate the fact that Missouri is on the western side of the conference, but plays in the Eastern Division?
For starters, yes, it makes no sense to have Missouri in the East. Secondly, this is a great way to make sure that traditional rivalries are preserved and respected.
I love traditional division rivalries so much that I think the league is bleeding real conference rivalries dry with its silly format. Nine conference games aside, the 6-1-1 conference scheduling model (one permanent and one rotating opponent in the opposite division) does no one any favors. It's bad for the players, bad for the fans and really leaves a lot to be desired when it comes to league play.
Obviously, people above my pay grade would have to dissect this more thoroughly, but if the SEC pushes the NCAA to get rid of divisions, conferences can keep their rivalries and even invest in older ones. Example: Florida and Auburn began play in 1912 and played for 58 consecutive years (1945-2002). The additions of Missouri and Texas A&M in 2012 further extinguished this rivalry by eliminating another cross-divisional opponent. Florida and Auburn aren't slated to play until 2019 in Gainesville, and at Auburn in 2024.
Without divisions, Florida could keep Georgia, Tennessee and LSU (the current permanent West opponent) on its schedule, and add Auburn. The Tigers could keep Alabama, Georgia and Tennessee, and add Florida.
Protect all the key in-conference rivalries for schools and set four or five permanent opponents for each team. Rotate the others with a home-and-home series, mix and match, whatever. If you have four permanent opponents and four different rotators or five permanent opponents and three rotators, players would see each SEC team in three years. Doing home-and-homes would push that to five years in either format.
Of course, time between rotators decreases with nine conference games.
Players would see every school in four years and you're keeping the most important games each season. Two wins right there. And disproportionate permanent crossovers would be gone.
You're welcome, LSU.
Elimination of divisions would also ensure that the two best teams would play in Atlanta every year. The West has won seven straight conference titles, six by 14 points or more. Florida (2008) is the last East team to win the conference. Let's not act like there hasn't been an imbalance of power in the SEC, thanks to divisions. There is an obvious disparity, creating more worry for teams and their true playoff hopes.
The SEC title game has mostly gotten the pairings right by overall record, but there have been instances in the past where a ho-hum title game would have been replaced by a more deserving matchup, like Alabama and LSU in 2011 and Auburn-Arkansas in 2010.
Nothing wrong with getting the most competitive game possible in your most important game every year by guaranteeing No. 1 vs. No. 2, which -- wait for it -- increases playoff hopes even more!
On the outside, this looks simple. With the sport evolving more and more, you might as well make sure you can get the best product on the field more and more. This is a step in that direction, and it serves the league, its teams and its fans well.