There might not be divisions in the Big 12 when BYU arrives. Or ever
A recent proposal, if approved, would eliminate the need for divisions in college football ahead of BYU’s move to the Big 12.
Just when things were becoming more clear as to what Big 12 football would look like upon BYU’s arrival ahead of the 2023-24 season, the NCAA has thrown a wrench in the works.
According to CBS Sports’ Dennis Dodd, a special Big 12 subcommittee was expected to finalize league composition — specifically the makeup of divisions — and schedules for the 2023-24 season this week.
That is no longer the case, however.
The reason? The NCAA might soon do away with the need for divisions altogether.
Last month, the NCAA Football Oversight Committee began looking at a proposal that would eliminate the current requirements to hold a conference championship game.
Right now, conferences with 12 or more teams must have two divisions, with division winners meeting in the conference title game. Alternatively, conferences with less than 12 schools must have a round-robin schedule in order to hold a conference championship.
The proposal, introduced by University of Utah athletic director Mark Harlan on behalf of the Pac-12, would remove those requirements, allowing conferences to pit their two best teams — as determined by each individual conference — against each other in the conference title game.
A source told Dodd that the approval process for the proposal will be completed by the middle of May.
Per Dodd, over the last five months the special Big 12 subcommittee had worked to come up with schedules for an anticipated 14-team conference, balancing traditional rivalries with many schools’ interest in playing Oklahoma and Texas at least one more time before those two programs leave for the SEC.
All of that is now in flux, though, with one source telling Dodd, “We were clearly focused on two divisions. We’re coming up with some different models. We were going to use these meetings to finalize what that would look like. Now, this new proposed legislation.”
The Pac-12 proposal regarding divisions is believed to have near universal support among the 10 FBS conferences, as leagues would effectively be able to give themselves the best possible chance at having a team qualify for the College Football Playoff.
“I just think people are trying to figure out how do they best position their teams into the CFP,” a source told Dodd. “I think that’s it. I think it’s giving each conference autonomy to decide how to get to the CFP whether that’s four [teams] or that ends up being 12.”
If the proposal passes, the Big 12 could play without divisions or a round-robin schedule in 2023-24, and continue to pit its two highest-ranked teams in its conference championship game.
As of right now, the Big 12 is expected to grow to 14 teams in 2023-24 and then shrink to 12 teams beginning in 2025.