- Brian Fremeau, ESPN Insider
The final weekend of the college football regular season is upon us, and a spot in the national championship game is on the line in the SEC championship game. But Saturday's featured matchup between the Alabama Crimson Tide and the Georgia Bulldogs is pretty much the lone bright spot in an otherwise underwhelming slate of championship games.
Due to postseason bans for Ohio State and Penn State, the Big Ten championship game features the Wisconsin Badgers, a team that went 4-4 in conference play. Both participants in the ACC championship game, the Florida State Seminoles and Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, suffered humbling losses last weekend in nonconference play. The Pac-12 championship game between the Stanford Cardinal and UCLA Bruins is a rematch staged a mere six days after their first battle.
BCS bowl bids are on the line in each game, but there's not a lot of excitement that resonates beyond the campuses involved in those games. That's partly because the Notre Dame Fighting Irish have already wrapped up a berth in the BCS Championship Game. But even in a four-team playoff scenario, the SEC championship game would still probably be the only conference title game of significance this weekend.
General fan disinterest in less-than-ideal matchups is one thing, but the bigger issue for conferences is that the conference championship games aren't consistently doing what they are designed to do. They aren't featuring the best teams due to division alignment and unbalanced scheduling.
A lot of noise was made in the offseason about the possibility that future college football playoff teams be required to win a conference championship to be eligible. But the 2012 season makes a strong statement that the conference championships should have nothing whatsoever to do with determining national championship contenders.
Brian Fremeau writes that division alignment and unbalanced scheduling are keeping the best teams in each league from playing each other in conference title games, which could become problematic when a playoff system is instituted in 2014.