Ten members is fine, maybe near ideal, for a regular season of twelve games for football. I doubt any of the major conferences (SEC, BIG12, & ACC) went to twelve for just the sake of it. There were motives beyond the fb championship game. This included new markets and other revenue enhancement motives.
Where 12 vs 11 or 10 or 8 becomes more of an acute matter to ponder, is not necessarily in the regular season, but addressing factors of consistency, scheduling equity, 13th game (championship), prior to extended post season (BCS bowls) play.
Help or hurts, the conference championship game influences results. Mathematically, representing the top of 12, rather than the top of 8, for perhaps most years, carries an expectation of added strength.
Only one school, Notre Dame, is given an independent criteria. Whether that is deemed a more difficult or easier method to reach the BCS, it just shows further the system is not uniform or consistent.
Noting the Big10's recent TV channel negotiations, that is not to say a championship game in the Big10 or the PAC 10 would not emerge as lucrative. Obviously, the incentives or pressure are not at the level to force them to do so yet.
In the SEC, most Championship games are exciting. In the SEC, I doubt a "failed" team would make the game considering the competition. Both the east and west divisions have solid opponents and enough cross-over is involved to avoid a fluke. Some repeat games are exciting. If a team is unable to defeat an opponent twice, perhaps that is also a message that the team is not the most worthy to receive the championship crown. While psychological factors are in play for such games, that does mean the earlier loser has not improved considerably, or is not allowed to adjust for mistakes from the first round.
Further, by the divisional opponent not having played half the schools from the other division during the regular season, there is close to a 50% chance there is not a rematch in the SEC. Only one school in the other division is a permanent opponent (GA-Auburn; Kentucky-MSU; SC-Ark.; LSU-FLA; Vandy-MISS; & ALA-TENN). That also allows for more rotation compared to having the previous two permanent opponents in the other division.
There are also conferences that may not want more than 8 conference games, yet maintain the championship game. With the 12th regular season game, that allows schools an option in playing somebody they want to when otherwise they have a diminished opportunity. Such, for example, has allowed another short planned series of future Georgia-Clemson games or a first time South Carolina-South Carolina State game.
While the PAC 10 and Big 10 formats are pretty settled and they are quite conservative about expansion, the Big East poses the most glaring inconsistency. Each BE team has only seven regular season games with conference opponents which renders a home-away imbalance; yet has monstrous numbers for bb. The PAC10 and Big10 had the freedom to play added in-conference games; the Big East doesn't.
We also need to keep in mind that for all-sports conferences, fb may not be the only (though way the most prominent) sport evaluated in terms of settling on numbers and balancing factors.
Last edited by sec03 on Mon Aug 21, 2006 3:12 pm, edited 1 time in total.