A couple of interesting comments on my plan for re-aligning the college football conferences and I’m guessing most of you agreed with the sentiment that this may be a bit far fetched. (I believe the words “pipe dream” were used.) That’s all fine and good. I’m well aware that the powers that be are not interested in making radical changes. My plan is simply to put out there what would work. I am confident we will spend the next ten years or more wondering why USC and Auburn aren’t playing for the title when neither has a loss, or how a two loss Oklahoma team snuck into the picture or why TCU isn’t getting a shot or what to do with three undefeateds. That’s the reality of college football today. My point is that it doesn’t have to be. It just takes some common sense.
As for questions about which teams were in and which were out, remember that all teams are still D-I and all conferences will have a shot. We’ll get to more of that later. I could certainly see replacing Miami-OH with Northwestern, but the Wildcats never really fit into the Big 10 and I think one of those MAC teams that is actually trying to succeed in big time college football at least deserves a shot. I feel the same way when it comes to excluding Texas Teach and Baylor in favor of at least one team from the WAC and the Mountain West. Though decent schools, Tech and Baylor never would have been invited into the Big 12 if BYU had accepted the offer back when the league was formed. Just because they’ve been in for 10 years doesn’t make them a legit super-conference team to me. And finally, Duke. I understand their basketball prowess and if the same scheme were applied for both football and basketball, they would have to be included. But as a football only solution, the Blue Devils get the boot. They are awful and don’t deserve to be in a Super-Conference based on their gridiron incompetence. That’s just the way it is.
The next step in the process involves scheduling. This is pretty simple. First of all, no more Division II’s (known as “cupcakes” to most of the world, “tune-ups” if you have a lot on your schedule or you live in Manhattan, Kansas). If you choose to schedule a Division II, it doesn’t count on your record, but you don’t get to schedule an extra game because of it. The maximum number of regular season games is 11. The regular season must be complete by the weekend after Thanksgiving. For Super-Conferences, you play each team in your division one time. For regular conferences, you play each team in your conference once. That leaves four games on each schedule.
For Super-Conference teams, one of those games will come against a team from the other division in your Super-Conference. The match-up will be determined by the order of finish in each division the previous year – if you finish third in your division, you play the team the finished third in the other division. Home field rotates. One year one division hosts all of them, the next year the other division hosts. Think of the matchups, especially based on the first, second and third place teams. It makes me giddy! The schedule opens 13 weeks before the weekend after Thanksgiving. This year, that would be September 2. That’s when games are scheduled to begin already. That gives every school one or two off weeks throughout the regular season. Plenty of time for an 11-game schedule. I’m getting rid of conference championship games. They are worthless. The coaches don’t like them and they really aren’t fair. The current state of the Big 12 is a great example. If Texas runs the table and wins the Big 12 South, they shouldn’t have to play a nothing to lose Nebraska team that won the North, but is barely ranked in the Top 25. My system will reward both for winning their division, but Nebraska will have to work its way through the field to get a shot at the Longhorns.
Oh, and that reminds me. College football games will be played on Thursday and Saturday. That’s it, with some minor exceptions during playoff time. No Tuesday night game. No Wednesday night game. The NFL gets Sunday and Monday. High school football gets Friday. I don’t need to see Marshall play Northern Illinois on Wednesday night just because ESPN thinks it would be fun to get an extra game televised. Stick to the normal days! The compromise is Thursday with a couple of games televised that night. But that’s it! Not only is this better for the fans, the fact that the NCAA is allowing games on any day but Saturday goes directly against their “these are students-first” philosophy. Students first unless they have to go crazy prepping for a Wednesday game when they just played four days before that. If you’re so in love with protecting your student-athletes, make it Saturday only for college football! Otherwise, enough with the hypocrisy!
So that leaves us with three games for the Super-Conferences and four for the Standard Conferences. Schools can schedule these games against whomever they want – if Notre Dame wants to play USC every year, great. But, for Super-Conference teams, only one of these games can be against other Super-Conference teams. The other two have to be against Standard Conference teams. The philosophy here is that the in-conference schedule for Standard Conference teams is naturally going to be a bit weaker. They deserve a shot at as many Super-Conference teams they can get. However, the Standard Conference teams have no limits on their opponents. As long as they are Division-1, they can play whomever they want. Finally, all non-conference games must be complete prior to the beginning of conference play. Once conference play begins, that’s where we stay – until playoff time.
And that’s where it gets exciting. When play ends on the Saturday after Thanksgiving, it’s time to determine which teams are in the hunt for the championship. My system is simple. The format will consist of 24 teams. The division winners of each of the four Super-Conference divisions (8 teams) and the conference winners of each of the seven Standard Conferences (7 teams) get automatic berths. The final nine teams are the nine teams not yet in with the highest ranking according to the final BCS poll. Because the conference champs or division champs are automatically in, I can’t envision any scenario where an undefeated team isn’t in the playoff. They’ll have played every team in their division or conference at least once and not lost, meaning every other team in their division or conference has at least one loss. No more Utah’s and Auburn’s on the outside looking in. They get their shot.
The final 24 teams are then seeded one through 24 based on the final BCS poll. Teams one through 8 get a first week bye. Teams 9 through 24 play each other the first Saturday after the regular season ends. (Team 9 plays 24, 10 plays 23, etc.) For Week 1 of the playoffs, games are held at campus sites of the higher seeded team. When those eight games are completed, the teams are re-seeded 1-16 and the 1-8 teams host Week 2 playoff games. (Again, one plays 16, two plays 15, etc.)
After two weeks of playoff excitement, we’re down to eight teams. Now the bowl affiliations come into play. Seven bowls will be associated with the National Championship series. The NCAA could take bids or simply invite the biggest and best. I would include the five currently part of the BCS system and add two more. Which weekend these bowls are played will rotate each year. Week 3 of the playoff has the eight teams remaining. Week 4 is the Final Four and Week 5 is the National Championship. The National Championship game is always played on New Year’s Day, unless that is a Sunday. In that case, the National Championship game is played on Monday. That means, on New Years Day, you crown an actual National Champ. No waiting for final polls. No questions surrounding two or more undefeateds. The decision is made based on who wins on the field. With the top 24 teams getting in, there is no way that there will be an undefeated team that doesn’t win the National Championship. It’s win or go home.
Now, in today’s bowls system, 56 teams get to play in bowl games. If my system ended there, only 24 teams would get a post-season. That’s where all the rest of the bowls come in. The other bowls can send out invites to other teams that didn’t make the playoff. The significance of these games doesn’t change what we see today. They can pick any of the teams that didn’t make the playoff. They can schedule the games whenever they want as long as it’s not after the National Championship game. College football ends on New Year’s Day. That’s that.
So, there you go. That’s my system. I’m sure it’s not perfect, but I think it would work. The max number of games any team would play is 16 – and that’s only if one of the lower seeded (9-24) teams made it to the title game. I’m guessing the National Championship game will be game 15 for most teams each year. We’ve already got teams that play 14 games a year, so that isn’t much of a stretch. The bowls would complain, but they’d get over it. I think the television folks would prefer this. You’ve got your sites for the final three weeks pre-determined and you are going to see the match-ups every one wants to see over the course of the playoff. All it takes is some willingness to change. And, one more thing. I’m sure the money issue can be worked out. Between gate receipts and the normal fees paid to participants and conferences, there will be plenty to go around. Every conference is assured at least one playoff or bowl game. So you can divide the first two weeks equally between the all Conferences, then do payouts based on remaining games after that. My point is, it’s not that difficult. If I can put something together while working on my laptop and sitting on my bed, the NCAA can get a group together and make it work. Let’s just do it!
The Race to 63! The Royals didn’t take my .500 admonition to heart, losing 2 of three to the Indians and Blue Jays. Now they need a winning streak to get things going in their favor. Current record – 47-85. Projected record – 58-104.
A Hatch Christmas Concert
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