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How to fix the divisions in each Power 5 conference

Each Power 5 conference can improve the competitive balance of its divisions with some simple fixes, like swapping Stanford and Utah in the Pac-12.

Discussions regarding Auburn’s placement in the SEC’s divisions resurfaced in the past few weeks, as SI’s Andy Staples analyzed. The talk around realigning the SEC’s divisions could lead to actual debate among the conference’s leaders, though most likely it’ll fade as just another meaningless storyline to help pass the off-season.

Still, the Auburn-to-the-East movement raises a valid point that applies far beyond the SEC: Most conferences’ divisions are poorly constructed—at least in terms of creating competitive balance given the current state of their programs. The result is that in most conferences, the must-see game that effectively decides the league title is a regular season matchup between division rivals rather than the actual title game after the season.

The good news is that in most cases a few minor tweaks to the divisional alignment could bring much better balance and lead to more competitive conference championships. The bad news is there seems to be almost no urgency among the leagues to consider any changes. (At this point, you might be wondering what’s the purpose of considering this if the conferences aren’t actually planning any changes. But remember, it’s June 1 and there’s still nearly three months until the season starts.)

Here’s how each of the Power 5 conferences could improve its divisional alignment.