Image courtesy of OnCampusSports.com
IUSportCom’s Mark Reel tackles the still-open question of conference realignment in major conference football
San Diego St in the Big East, Missouri in the SEC, and now Clemson is heading to the Big 12. Conferences commissioners have gone crazy. College football has a broken system, one that simple ideas will not fix. But, Iâ€™m going to be honest, itâ€™s a problem I could fix while sitting on the couch in my underwear. Itâ€™s radical, but combines the best of every leagueâ€™s format. We use a selection committee like the college basketball does, realignment and reformatting like the NBA and MLB have used in the last decade, and relegation methods of European soccer to make weeding out and excluding teams a fair process.
So, letâ€™s just say itâ€™s the spring of 2013. There are currently 120 and 6 more teams are currently scheduled to be full members by 2015. Â We begin the process of dividing the all BCS teams into 2 divisions; for the storyâ€™s sake, Class A and B (or for Big 10 fans, Pilgrims and Astronauts). We look at program history, where the program is headed, and most importantly current state of affairs. No computers, no complicated formulas; experts and journalists in room hash out which 64 teams belong in the Class A. The other 62+ teams, head to the Class B.
Divisions and Regular Season
Next, we divide all the teams into GEOGRAPHICALLY SENSABLE (abstract concept, huh?) divisions consisting of 8 teams. (Hey, we could even take rivalries into account). An example could be a division could be Arkansas, Baylor, Houston, SMU, Texas, Texas A&M, Texas Tech. Divisions may seem tough, but remember, only the top 64 teams in the nation are in the Class A.
The season format would be simplified and uniform at the same time. Each team in the country schedules 3 pre-conference games over a 4 week period. No games against FCS teams, teams encouraged to play tough road and neutral site games to improve resume just like they are in college hoops (Sorry Bama fans, youâ€™ll have to drop Chattanooga). After that, each team plays the other 7 teams in their division on 7 consecutive weeks. That makes for a 10 game regular season and with a 16 team playoff, the maximum number of games would be 14.
The regular season gives us 8 conference champs. Each division champ gets a bid to the National Tournament. The format is created to allow a 16 team playoff, so that gives us 8 At-Large bids. For those 8 bids we take the NCAA Basketball Tournamentâ€™s method into account. A group of experts are locked a room to hash out the 8 most deserving teams for the at-Large spots.
Then, we seed the tournament (division champs 1-8, At-Large 9-16). Division Champs host an at-large in the first round. The second round the game is placed in 1 of 4 pre-selected neutral sites. We take 1 week off, and then the semi-finals and national championship are played at the same site on back to back weeks (Superbowl meets Final 4 type deal).
Imagine the revenue and the number of people that an event like that could pull to a city. Maybe we get LSU vs Texas on Friday night and Florida vs Ohio State on Saturday. One week later, in that same stadium, the National Championship game is played.
Along with selecting the 8 best At-Large teams, the selection committee will pick the 8 worst teams in Division A. Those teams are matched up into 4-one game playoffs at the higher seedâ€™s home field. Winner stays; loser packs its bags and is now in Class B.
Class B has a similar system in place. Make it to the final 4 of the Class B tournament; you earn the right to play the next season in Class A. Using relegation will make every game relevant for bad teams. Relegation to Class B would be huge, because it would most likely take high profile games off the schedule.
It may be tough to implement my plan, but it could help return some of the regional rivalries and aura that college football has lost in the past decade. Just think about it, Miami could be in a division with Florida, Florida St, and Georgia. Notre Dame could be put in with Michigan, Ohio St and Wisconsin (No Irish fans, you do not get an automatic bid to the tourney every year). Maybe we could bring back the Oklahoma/Nebraska rivaly? Sounds like a good time to me. Every week could be an exciting adventure, a glimpse into the past, and another chance to bring back the tradition and mystique to college football.
So, what do you say Mr. Emmret? Do you think we can work something out? I would even be willing to put some pants on if you wanted to meet and talk.