The Future of College Football: My Plan

24 02 2010

Let’s pretend, just for a moment, that I’m a prominent figure in the College Football world. Due to my national recognition and well-noted wisdom, President Obama calls me up and asks me to serve as his College Football Czar, charged with bringing College Football into the future. He tells me to be realistic, economical and fair, and not to ignore the already growing trends. Being the Democrat he is, he nudges me gently and flashes me a smile, saying, “And remember, bigger is better.”

This is how I’d do it:

Expansion is upon us; there is no denying that. The Big Ten has already announced their intentions, and the PAC-10 seems to be looking to go to at least 12 teams as well. I don’t see this trend going away anytime soon, and as I linked yesterday, there is a large group of college football experts that agree with me. The idea of “super-conferences” is not far over the horizon, and – after much internal debate – I have decided to fully endorse the idea.

Running with the Orlando-Sentinel’s prediction, here are the 4 Super-Conferences I present: The Big Sixteen Conference (Big-16), The Pacific Area Conference (PAC-16), The Southeastern Conference (SEC-16) and the Atlantic Coastal Conference (ACC-16).

I’d tell these conferences that they have to “draft” whatever schools they need to round out their 16 teams from the other conferences, adhering to the standards they have established as a conference. For example, the Big Ten (11) would need to draft 5 teams that play a similar style of football and fit closely within their other athletic and academic standards. The idea of a PAC-10/Big 12 merger has already hit the rumor mill, so I would suggest to the PAC that they draw as many of their 6 as possible from the left-behind Big 12. With those guidelines in mind, my landscape of the 4 Super-Conferences looks slightly different than the Orlando-Sentinel predicts. Here we go:

Each team would play 9 conference games, 7 within their division and 2 against members of the opposing divisions (likely used to preserve rivalries in conferences splitting into divisions for the first time). The remaining 3 games of the 12-game schedule would be scheduled with non-conference opponents, either members of the other 3 super-conferences, or members of the newly reshuffled Football Championship Division. (Obviously a lot of small schools would be upset over this restructuring, but they could be bought off with lucrative payouts for playing in the nonconference game, and a future expansion of the play-offs.)

The Big Sixteen Conference:
North Division: Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan State, Penn State, Northwestern, Michigan, + Pittsburgh, Notre Dame
South Division: Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Purdue, Ohio State, + Missouri, Iowa State, Texas

Seeking to maintain their dominance of the Midwest, the Big Ten picks up three schools within their existing states. Pittsburgh in Penn State’s backyard – Pennsylvania, Notre Dame in Indiana/Purdue’s packed state, and Iowa State in Iowa’s borders.  This move ensures that all states with an existing Big Ten presence stay Big Ten states.

Pittsburgh, ND, Missouri and Texas had all long been rumored to be on the Big Ten’s short-list, and the conference finally shows their cards. Iowa State is merely picked up as an efficient defensive move. Texas is pulled in three directions by the Big Ten, PAC and SEC. However, they realize that they are too slow to play consistently in the SEC, and not run-and-gun enough for the PAC. Their style of play makes it a likelihood that they would remain a big fish in a little pond playing in the Big-16 South.

The Big Ten briefly considers dropping Northwestern in the expansion process, but decides to stick with them to bolster average GPAs. However, they are officially put on notice, and warned that if there is no improvement they will be swapped for another Big Ten candidate – likely Louisville, which gets dropped into the FBS during the massive reshuffling.

The Pacific Area Conference:
West Division: UCLA, USC, Cal, Stanford, Oregon St. , Oregon, Washington St., Washington
East Division: Arizona, Arizona State, + Colorado, Kansas, Kansas State, Oklahoma, Baylor, Nebraska

The PAC splits East/West, with a majority of the original teams going into the West. 6 new teams poached from the dissolving Big 12 join Arizona and Arizona State in the East. There will be much discussion about renaming the PAC to more accurately describe its newfound geography.

The Atlantic Coast Conference:
Atlantic Division: Maryland, Clemson, NC State, Wake Forest, Florida State, Boston College, + Rutgers, Syracuse
Coastal Division: Virginia, Georgia Tech, UNC, Duke, Miami, Virginia Tech + Connecticut, Cincinnati

The ACC gobbles up half of the extinct Big East to fill out its 16-team roster. No surprise there. Louisville could possibly be swapped for any of these four.

The Southeastern Conference:
East Division: Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, South Carolina, Tennessee, Vanderbilt, + South Florida, West Virginia
West Division: Alabama, Arkansas, Auburn, LSU, Mississippi, Mississippi State, + Oklahoma State, Texas Tech

The SEC is the slowest to act; worried about tainting the stranglehold they’ve had on college football. As a result, they get the shortest end of the stick. They pick up the PAC-16 and Big-16’s Big 12 leftovers in Oklahoma St. and Texas Tech. Similarly; they grab what they can of the Big East after the ACC opens its doors to those teams.

The college football post season would move, finally, to a playoff. At first, it will be a 4-team playoff consisting of each Super-Conference Champion. Eventually this would expand to an 8-team playoff (discussed more below).

The playoff games would take place in Bowls, to appease sponsors. All other bowl spots would be filled out by whatever teams those bowls select, much like it is done now.

Here’s a rundown of how that would work:

Capital One “Harvest” Bowl – Indianapolis, Indiana
Big-16 North Champion v. Big-16 South Champion

Tostitos Fiesta Bowl – Tempe, Arizona
PAC-16 West Champion v. PAC-16 East Champion

FedEx Orange Bowl – Miami, Florida
ACC-16 Atlantic Champion v. ACC-16 Coastal Champion

AT&T Cotton Bowl – Dallas, Texas
SEC-16 East Champion v. SEC-16 West Champion

Citi Bank Rose Bowl – Pasadena, California
Big-16 Champion v. PAC-16 Champion

All-State Sugar Bowl – New Orleans, Louisiana
ACC-16 Champion v. SEC-16 Champion

National Championship Game
Rose Bowl Champion v. Sugar Bowl Champion

Or

BCS Standings used to seed 4 conference champions in a 4-team playoff.
First Round: #1 v. #4 in Rose Bowl, #2 v. #3 in Sugar Bowl
Second Round: Rose Bowl Champion v. Sugar Bowl Champion in National Championship Game

It is my assumption that teams that get “left-out” of the reshuffle will organize into their own rival conferences. Teams like Boise State, Utah, UNLV, etc will end up teaming up with other Conference USA, MAC and WAC teams to form conferences. After a few years of proving themselves, I would fully expect the playoffs to expand to 8 or even 16 teams to include top ranked FBS teams.

Well, that’s about everything. Comments? Questions? Critiques? Post them all below!

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One response

24 02 2010
m.c.

haha, love the idea, especially the piece about NW getting dropped originally out of the Big 16, spoken like a true Hawks fan.

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