Wednesday, November 13, 2019

The Bad Math of College Football

Colleges are supposed to teach our kids to be smarter, not make them more stupider. (Or is that more stupid?)

My nine year-old son is getting excited about possible going to his first college football game this week, so he's been asking me a lot of college football questions. He's been quizzing me about which conferences different college football teams play in. It came up that the University of Utah used to play in the Mountain West Conference, but moved a few years ago into the PAC-12 Conference. I told him that the conference was formerly known as the PAC-10 before the University of Utah and the University of Colorado agreed to join it in 2010.

He found this interesting, and we started talking about other college football conferences. That's when we stumbled across the mathematical incongruities of these major institutions of "higher" learning.

Do you know how many teams the Big 12 Conference has in it? You would think the answer would be 12, wouldn't you? You would be wrong. The Big 12 Conference consists of ten football teams. Does this make sense? No. No, it does not. But, it gets more confusing, because the Big 12 Conference is not the worst offender, thanks to the existence of the Big Ten Conference.

At this point, if I ask you how many teams are in the Big Ten Conference, you know that the answer is not going to be ten, because why would it? The Big Ten Conference added an eleventh team (Penn State) in 1990, then they added a twelfth team (University of Nebraska) in 2011. That meant that for a while the Big 12 Conference had ten teams and the Big Ten Conference had twelve teams, which is idiotic, but somewhat easy to remember (if you tilt your head just right.) But, since then, the Big Ten Conference went and added two more teams to reach a total (for now) of 14 teams!

And I thought college algebra was difficult to understand.

These are institutions of higher learning! These are the places we send our children in order for them to get educated, and yet these universities seem to be unable to count to 14.

My nine year-old was confused and amused. He might never count things the same way again.

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