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Maximum size before conference gets unwieldy
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Erictelevision Online
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Post: #1
Maximum size before conference gets unwieldy
How big can a conference get before it's too big? For a long time 12 seemed to be the sweet spot. The WAC went to 16 briefly, but soon saw the error of their ways. A few have ballooned to 14, but that's pushing it IMO.
03-22-2020 02:26 PM
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Fighting Muskie Offline
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RE: Maximum size before conference gets unwieldy
16 is totally workable provided you can find a way to divide your teams into workable pods or divisions that preserve the important regional and historic rivalries.

Beyond 16 requires either divisionless play or an NCAA rule challenge that would permit conference semi-final games.
03-22-2020 02:42 PM
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DoubleRSU Offline
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RE: Maximum size before conference gets unwieldy
(03-22-2020 02:42 PM)Fighting Muskie Wrote:  16 is totally workable provided you can find a way to divide your teams into workable pods or divisions that preserve the important regional and historic rivalries.

Beyond 16 requires either divisionless play or an NCAA rule challenge that would permit conference semi-final games.

Is there a rule that says all your conference games need to be scheduled? Leave the last regular week open for flexible schedule. You could play semifinal games and just let teams 5-16 play each other.

The 16 team WAC failed because their money didn’t increase enough to make it worth it. Bowl and NCAA tournament bids basically remained the same. Feeding 16 mouths instead of 10 hurts when your conference doesn’t do better nationally. If they would have just added UNLV and TCU, or just UNLV and waited for Boise to be #12, they would have still been in business today
03-22-2020 03:28 PM
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bullet Offline
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RE: Maximum size before conference gets unwieldy
Beyond 12 is unwieldy. You've heard some complaints about the difficulties of scheduling things like conference championships.

But Big 10 and SEC think the network money they got was worth the hassles.

16 is probably the biggest you can get before the hassles get too significant.

No conference that has gone beyond 14 has lasted very long. Southern did it twice. Lone Star did it. There was a western conference that stretched from New Mexico to Hawaii to Alaska (can't remember the name). WAC did it.
03-22-2020 03:37 PM
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RE: Maximum size before conference gets unwieldy
I don't think there is a real limit for the power guys if they can grab enough pieces.

SEC-16 (Florida St, Clemson)
B1G-16 (Oklahoma, Kansas)
PAC-16 (Texas, TT, TCU, OSU)

I also like the A-10's model of 14 where it collected all the best mid majors in the Northeast corridor for good saturation.

For the lower tier D1 conferences 10 or 11 is better. 10 in FB is a good number for the G5 conferences.
03-22-2020 04:18 PM
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CitrusUCF Offline
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RE: Maximum size before conference gets unwieldy
(03-22-2020 03:37 PM)bullet Wrote:  Beyond 12 is unwieldy. You've heard some complaints about the difficulties of scheduling things like conference championships.

But Big 10 and SEC think the network money they got was worth the hassles.

16 is probably the biggest you can get before the hassles get too significant.

No conference that has gone beyond 14 has lasted very long. Southern did it twice. Lone Star did it. There was a western conference that stretched from New Mexico to Hawaii to Alaska (can't remember the name). WAC did it.

Agree with this. The 14 team conferences are working because everyone is making money, but the scheduling issues for football are terrible when you may not play a team in the other division for 6 or more years as happens in the SEC with just 2 rotating cross-over games.
03-22-2020 04:30 PM
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RE: Maximum size before conference gets unwieldy
16 is likely the max for the P5 and it can work with some effort.

I would like to see (and am on record with this) both the American and Big East go to 14. Not sure 16 would be needed (or workable) for either of those two since neither is a true and comprehensive power conference. The Big East is a power league in men's hoops — and to go beyond 14 might be harmful. And the American (IMO) is the sixth best all-sports conference in terms of a combination of academics, athletics, enrollment sizes, endowments, markets, etc. So it has to be careful that any expansion does not harm that status. But I do think 14 could work for the AAC.
03-22-2020 04:30 PM
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RE: Maximum size before conference gets unwieldy
(03-22-2020 02:42 PM)Fighting Muskie Wrote:  16 is totally workable provided you can find a way to divide your teams into workable pods or divisions that preserve the important regional and historic rivalries.

Beyond 16 requires either divisionless play or an NCAA rule challenge that would permit conference semi-final games.

Pods don't work.

In theory one could go to 21 in basketball, single round robin 20 games. But to honest I prefer double round robin, so 11 would be my Basketball ideal.

You can make larger numbers work. Even numbers for Basketball mean you designate a rival you always play home and away. With 14 you'd play 6 of the other 12 twice, 6 once, hosting each 3 times in four years. For 16 it takes 7 years to host each 4 times (your rivals always). At 18 you might as well forget rotation, just designate 3 rivals, host the other 14 every other year -- you are basically like the old Big East.

For odd numbers above 11, you need an even number of "rivals" or none at all. If none then for 13, if you play 18 games, you host every school 2 times every 3 years, at 20 games you host every school 5 time every 6 years. If you declare two rivals and 20 games, then you host the other 10 schools 4 times every 5 years. At 15 you host the 12 non-rivals 2 times every 3 years. At 17 or 19 it's a bit complicated - you are probably best off having 2nd games only for rivalries or TV match ups (NET boosters).

For Football it's not great above 14. If you play 8 games it would take 7 years to host every school in the other division. At 16 it would take 16 years with only 8 games. 16 IMO dictates 9 games, as you are not a conference if you only host some schools less than once a decade. In fact 10 games might make sense at 16.

Football at 15 maybe better, with no Division. You could probably designate 2 rivals you always play, and in an 8 game schedule play 6 of the other 12, so that you host everyone every 4 years. At 9 games it's funky.

Football just wont work above 16. You are getting tow a point where Divisions are de facto conferences. If you have 18, you are playing 8 Division games, and only 1 of the other 9 schools with 9 games, which might as well count as OOC.

Scheduling basically says 16 is as big as you can go without de facto turning Divisions into conferences, or turning basketball into an every other year hosting affair, ending rivalries.
(This post was last modified: 03-23-2020 06:53 PM by Stugray2.)
03-22-2020 04:42 PM
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RE: Maximum size before conference gets unwieldy
14 as it is currently is already too archaic with the rules they have in place and 16+ would make it even worse. Any further expansion would need to include a rule change on how conference are able to self align whether that be through pods or by eliminating divisions entirely.
03-22-2020 05:03 PM
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RE: Maximum size before conference gets unwieldy
Depends on conference cohesiveness in regards to geography, athletics, academics, and any number of other factors. The WAC-16 failed for several reasons. It spanned 3 time zones. It included a hodge podge of schools from the old WAC, Big West, Southwest Conference, and independents. Among others. It was clear from the start that it was doomed to fail sooner rather than later.
03-22-2020 05:15 PM
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RE: Maximum size before conference gets unwieldy
(03-22-2020 03:37 PM)bullet Wrote:  Beyond 12 is unwieldy. You've heard some complaints about the difficulties of scheduling things like conference championships.

But Big 10 and SEC think the network money they got was worth the hassles.

16 is probably the biggest you can get before the hassles get too significant.

No conference that has gone beyond 14 has lasted very long. Southern did it twice. Lone Star did it. There was a western conference that stretched from New Mexico to Hawaii to Alaska (can't remember the name). WAC did it.

That would be the Pacific West Conference. It grew to 15 members in 1998 when Western New Mexico joined, and remained that size for 3 seasons until 2001 when the Alaska schools and 7 others left to found the Great Northwest Athletic Conference. The PacWest never grew above 14 members since and has been a CA and HI conference except while Dixie State and Grand Canyon were members.
03-22-2020 06:35 PM
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RE: Maximum size before conference gets unwieldy
It depends on the money. I think the P5 can go to 14 as they have a tv channel to boost revenue. For the G5 I say 12 is the best size for the conferences. The FCS is a funny situation. The HBCU conferences can go to 12 because of the fact they don't go to the playoffs. FCS may go to 12 but use the divisions as to gain more playoff spots. Non football conferences are probably good at 10 team conferences.
03-22-2020 06:43 PM
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RE: Maximum size before conference gets unwieldy
(03-22-2020 05:15 PM)BePcr07 Wrote:  Depends on conference cohesiveness in regards to geography, athletics, academics, and any number of other factors. The WAC-16 failed for several reasons. It spanned 3 time zones. It included a hodge podge of schools from the old WAC, Big West, Southwest Conference, and independents. Among others. It was clear from the start that it was doomed to fail sooner rather than later.

Apparently I forgot to hit submit, but my comment was basically ^^this^^. It's not the numbers that are the issue, it's the level of shared goals between the schools. If 16, 18 or 20 schools really wanted to make it work, they'd make it work. If 10 schools didn't get along and most had different priorities, the conference would eventually shatter. The number of schools is pretty far down on the list of important factors.


With the caveat being that adding schools to an already unstable mix is a recipe for disaster(see WAC and Big East).
(This post was last modified: 03-22-2020 08:38 PM by Hammersmith.)
03-22-2020 08:37 PM
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RE: Maximum size before conference gets unwieldy
(03-22-2020 03:37 PM)bullet Wrote:  Beyond 12 is unwieldy. You've heard some complaints about the difficulties of scheduling things like conference championships.

But Big 10 and SEC think the network money they got was worth the hassles.

It's more this. Whether there is a cost in expanding from 10 to 12 depends no whether there is a nice "clean" divisional split available. But there is a cost to every expansion above 12, the question is whether the value of the new members covers that cost and adds value on a per member basis on top of that.

You get to 16, you either need to have a REALLY good divisional split, since you are now basically two 8-school conferences with a scheduling agreement and an early bowl game to pick an overall champion, or else need to go to rotating division scheduling
(This post was last modified: 03-22-2020 09:11 PM by BruceMcF.)
03-22-2020 09:08 PM
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RE: Maximum size before conference gets unwieldy
10
03-22-2020 09:10 PM
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RE: Maximum size before conference gets unwieldy
2, 3 is a crowd.
03-23-2020 05:55 AM
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RE: Maximum size before conference gets unwieldy
(03-22-2020 09:10 PM)esayem Wrote:  10

I'm just curious as to who's the 10 you would have in the ACC then?
03-23-2020 06:32 AM
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RE: Maximum size before conference gets unwieldy
You could have a football conference of 20 teams if you play at least 9 conference games.

Split into 5-team pods. You play every team in your pod (4 games) plus all the teams in another 5 -team pod for a total of 9 games in a ten team division. Then rotate the pods that play each other every 3 years.

In basketball, you would play 20 conference games, play 18 teams once, and 1 team twice.

So I think the answer is 20 teams.
03-23-2020 07:13 AM
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RE: Maximum size before conference gets unwieldy
(03-23-2020 07:13 AM)goofus Wrote:  You could have a football conference of 20 teams if you play at least 9 conference games.

Split into 5-team pods. You play every team in your pod (4 games) plus all the teams in another 5 -team pod for a total of 9 games in a ten team division. Then rotate the pods that play each other every 3 years.

In basketball, you would play 20 conference games, play 18 teams once, and 1 team twice.

So I think the answer is 20 teams.

Alternatively a 20 team conference could house two 10-team divisions that play 9 conference games. Winner of each division plays in CCG.

Some would argue this is more of a confederation than a conference since a lot of the schools would not be playing very much in FB, but truth be told there would be a lot of schools that would have no interest playing most schools in the other division anyhow and the chances are you could arrange the divisions geographically to keep fan interest/engagement peaked.
(This post was last modified: 03-23-2020 07:19 AM by CliftonAve.)
03-23-2020 07:18 AM
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RE: Maximum size before conference gets unwieldy
16 max for P5
14 max for G5

12 the sweet spot for P5
10 the sweet spot for G5
03-23-2020 07:28 AM
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