The NCAA Division I Board announced earlier this week that it recommended easing restrictions on conference football championship games, which in previous years required any conference with 12 or more teams to be divided into divisions or played on a round robin basis. Mountain West took advantage of the change in a hurry, with the conference announcing on Friday that it would be eliminating its divisions in football as of the 2023 season.
“Our members have been working on concepts since last summer as part of our strategic planning for the future of Mountain West,” Commissioner Craig Thompson said. “The one-unit approach provides maximum flexibility to adapt the conference schedule as the landscape continues to evolve, while also allowing member institutions to play with each other more often.”
The conference will send the top two teams from the conference to the conference championship at the end of the season. Specific tie-break rules will be announced at a later date.
Mountain West said part of the reason for eliminating the divisions is to put the league in the best possible position to earn one of the four college football playoff berths. AAC power Cincinnati became the first Group of Five team to advance to the CFP since the 2021 season.
This year’s MWC Championship game sees the mountain and western division champions face off against each other on Saturday, December 3rd, as previously scheduled.
Championship game selection criteria has become a hot topic this week following the recommendation of the NCAA Board.that his 2022 championship game will feature the top two teams regardless of division, and that he will look into his long-term scheduling model later with the elimination of divisions on the horizon.
The 10-team Big 12 has been able to host non-split conference championship games since 2017 thanks to a nine-game conference plan that allows round-robin scheduling each season. The ACC was given permission to eliminate divisions in 2020 with Notre Dame playing in the conference for one season due to the COVID-19 pandemic.