Chaos surrounds the college football offseason with a feud between Alabama and the Aggies of SEC country.
Travel over a thousand miles west and you’ll find some news that may not be as chaotic, but could bode well for the Utah State Aggies and other Mountain West schools going forward. Starting with the 2023 season, divisions will be removed from the conference. This will allow the conference to choose the top two teams to always qualify for the conference championship game.
This comes after a rule was undone. A conference used to be required to split into divisions if they had 12 or more teams to have a championship game. Now they have the option to remove divisions. This will help the Aggies and other teams for years to come. It’s time to look at the main reasons why.
1. The Mountain West can earn more money
It is in the best interest of the Mountain West to have the two best teams in the championship game. This would increase the odds of the winner going to an NY6 bowl. Why is this the case?
Imagine that the Aggies and Broncos were somehow undefeated going into the final weekend. If Boise wins, they go to the championship game with the tiebreaker and the Aggies stay home. If Boise played a 7-5 West Division team in the championship, Aggie fans would be deservedly upset. Without divisions, the Aggies could have a rematch with Boise the following week and possibly punch their ticket to a big-time bowl game.
New Year’s Six Bowls all have multi-million dollar payouts. Even the best bowl games with Mountain West tie-ins barely eclipse a million. Recently, the American conference has put multiple teams in the NY6 slot. As a result, their top three programs have graduated to the P5.
If the Aggies can be one of the top two teams at the end of every season without divisions, they would give themselves a chance to make an unprecedented bowl game, especially with the American possibly taking a nosedive after their best teams leave for the Big 12.
2. Championship caliber Aggie teams won’t be penalized
2018 is a prime example of how the Aggies were penalized for being in the tougher division. They were undefeated in conference play going into the final game with Boise. However, they lost a tough game and ended up missing out on the championship as a result.
The Aggies still won the New Mexico Bowl and finished with a Top 25 ranking, but they still missed out on a golden opportunity for a better bowl game. UCF would still have had the NY6 bid, but the Las Vegas Bowl could have been a possibility had the Aggies won the championship.
In 2021, the Aggies benefited from being in the Mountain Division as two other schools in the West (Fresno and San Diego State) had better resumes. The removal of divisions will give the Aggies championships some years and take them away in others. The important part though is the very best USU teams won’t be penalized for having to play Boise every year.
3. Opportunity to play all Conference teams more often
Except for a select few rivals that are played every year, the Aggies would have a chance to play most teams in the conference every other year. They aren’t locked in to just play teams in their division. This will give every player who stays all four years a chance to play every Mountain West school in their career. They will also foster some rivalries among all the schools as a result.
With the Jim Bridger Rifle being the traveling trophy for the Aggies in conference play, it would be nice to play Wyoming every year. Could the Aggies see new rivalries form? Time will tell how the removal of divisions will impact rivalries in the years to come.
Featured image courtesy Utah State University