In part 1 of my series, I went over what lead to the creation of the Pac-12 and its championship game. In part 2 in my 4 part series, I will now go over a brief overview of the championship games in the ACC, Big-12 and SEC. Of course now, the Big-12 with ten teams can’t host a championship game because of a provision stipulating the need for twelve teams to host the championship game. The Big-10 will start hosting a championship game this year after poaching Nebraska from the Big-12 to secure it’s twelfth member.
ACC – The ACC was the most recent to form a twelve team conference noticing the recent success the Big-12 and SEC had by their top teams play over Thanksgiving break. Therefore, reaching out to invite Miami (2 straight NC appearances, and 4 straight BCS bowls in a row winning 3), Virginia Tech (1999 Sugar Bowl) and Boston College (New England market) seemed to be a huge victory for the ACC. The ACC commissioner had hoped the traditional powers of Miami and Florida State would bring the conference back to prominence and seemed forcefully to put two programs in different conferences. This may have contributed to a somewhat uneven playing field as the Coastal Division currently holds the edge 4-2 in championship games (including the last 4), but only has been represented by Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech. The ACC has only had 1 BCS bowl win out of 6 since the inauguration of the championship game and has yet to produce a national title game representative. In addition, the ACC Championship Game is in a constant battle over attendance as it continual rotation of the game’s site which has lead to horrid images such as this one.
Big-12 – The Big-12 has produced many exciting championship games which results have been felt all throughout the nation. A few of these games I will go over in Part 3 of the series. The Big-12 Championship Game was formed after the merger of the Big-8 and the Southwest Conference (4 schools in Texas) in 1996. The game has been a stepping stone for a couple of National Champions (Nebraska 1997, Oklahoma 2000, Texas 2005). The Big-12 initially did a pretty good job about rotating the championship game site between the North and the South, but after Jerry built his palace in 2008, the Big-12 was likely going to settle in Arlington, Texas as a more permanent home which obviously didn’t bode well for fans from the North. Excitement, exposure and attendance haven’t been the issue haunting the Big-12’s championship game as much as it has been competitive imbalance. The obvious recruiting advantage in Texas (ranked #1 most years) for the South schools has led to some pretty lopsided results (70-3, 62-21, 38-21, 42-3) and has some including Mack Brown preferring not to play the game. Of course, the two times Mack Brown said this were when his Longhorn’s were left out of the Big-12 Championship Game in 2008 in favor of Oklahoma, who they had beaten head to head, and after Colorado and Nebraska left the Big-12 which eliminated the game. So take it for what it is.
SEC – The Southeast Conference was the first to chaperon the idea of the championship game when it expanded to twelve teams back in 1992. At first, the game was played in Legion Field, Alabama (Birmingham). Because of the rather even split down the line, Birmingham was pretty close to being a neutral field game. There was actually little problem filling up the championship game in Birmingham the first two years as it actually outdrew Atlanta’s Georgia Dome because of its larger seat stadium. The SEC is able to fill up its stadium for the game without it giving any particular time an unfair advantage (Athens, GA is a 1.5 hour drive to Atlanta) and has been a great model of how the Championship Game can springboard a team outside of the top 2, into the BCS National Championship Game. (2003, 2006, 2007). While the East still holds an 11-8 edge (due to early dominance from winning 6 out of the first 7), the West has won the last two and has dominated the East of late. Florida and Georgia are often in the top 5 states when it comes to recruiting and may geographically be slightly closer to the East. But, the bunched of nature of the SEC states has allowed for a rather even distribution of talent contributing to the overall evenness of the SEC’s balance in most years.