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pianoknight

Rethinking NCAA Football

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RETHINKING NCAA FOOTBALL

Expansion!  It's like the 21st Century version of Manifest Destiny and gold rushes.  In the quest for more money, college football adopted a severe growth mindset that saw profits rising and rivalries flung by the wayside.  There's been good mixed with bad - we now have a 4 team playoff that fans have clamored for, but many feel like traditions have been thrown out the window.

Setting aside the money and sponsorship questions, there are two things fundamentally broken in my mind with the current state of college football.  First, there is a four team playoff that is supposed to cover five conferences (plus Notre Dame).  In every year, a conference champion is left out of the equation.  And in some years, you may have TWO conference champions left out.  The second problem, which is one I alluded to before, is the destruction of classic rivalries within college football.  

 

With those two issues at stake, I set out to rethink the landscape of college football.  More specifically, what's now considered the Power 5, Major FBS teams, Division-1, etc.

First of all, there are simply too any teams in FBS (P5 + G5 + Indies).  But if we restrict this new division or league to just the Power 5 teams we wind up with only 64, which is arguably too small since teams like Notre Dame, BYU, etc., get left out of the picture.  

 

The answer is 72 teams.  Arranged in 4 conferences of 18 teams.  Yes, that's right - 18 teams.  Meaning 3 divisions of 6.


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In this model, the Big XII is no more.  The fact is, nobody was lining up to watch those amazing Baylor-West Virginia games.  Not when the current state of college football means that Texas vs A&M is an out of conference game and we now get to watch Louisville play Wake Forest annually!  We'll cover scheduling in a moment, but the logic here is that most teams have 2-5 other opponents that they would like to see on the schedule every year.  No system is perfect, so we won't be seeing a division with Notre Dame and USC, despite their history.  Yes, there are some teams that have been promoted from their status as mid-majors.  If you object to me picking UCF over Houston, or Memphis instead of East Carolina, you're more than welcome to make your own concept.  

 

Let's address it conference by conference.

 

The Pac-12 is basically the same, with six teams added.  The Central Division is a little wonky, but I'd argue that you have two solid trios of UT-BYU-CU and Baylor-TCU-TTU.  Montana and Boise State join the North Division and the Griz are the only FCS team reclassified.  

 

The Big Ten is largely the same, except the conference loses the Maryland-Rutgers addition, plus Penn State moves east.  This allows the conference to scoop up the remnants of the Big 8, including Mizzou from the SEC.  Notre Dame is forced to join a conference or GTFO and they really belong in the Big Ten.  It's basically like watching a 100 year version of Ross and Rachel from Friends.  Kids, ask your parents on that one.

 

The ACC and SEC have become essentially a North/South divide with FSU, Miami and GT jumping ship.  The SEC West picks up Texas, restoring the rivalries with A&M and Arkansas, giving that division a modern SWC feel.  Meanwhile, the ACC becomes a little more Carolina centric with the four NC schools joining Clemson and SC in a big ole tobacco and palmetto conference.  The ACC Central is probably the division I'm most proud of as it reunites all the great Virginia-Maryland-Pennsylvania rivalries.  Who doesn't want an annual Pitt-WVU game?  Or Pitt-Penn State?  Or UVA/VT and Maryland?  The ACC North grabs Temple along with Cincinnati and Louisville.

 

Alright, now that everyone is jumping up and down about how I've destroyed their favorite conferences, let's look at how this has affected rivalries.

 

RIVALRIES

 

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The rivalries in GREEN are NEW games that are now ANNUAL.  Florida-FSU-Miami.  Nebraska-Mizzou-Oklahoma.  There are some great 3-way and 4-way rivalries in college football that should have never been broken up.  And further, the rivalries in BLUE are now rivalries contained within a conference.  Auburn and Georgia Tech aren't in the same division, but they're in the same conference, meaning they will play every few seasons (more to come on scheduling, I promise!).

 

The rivalries in RED are games that were once annual games.  The rivalries in ORANGE are ones that were once within the same conference.  Like most things in life, it's a trade off, but I'd argue that there are few rivalries here that are more important than the new rivalries gained.  I'll make an exception here for Oklahoma-Texas, but again, more on scheduling later. 

 

One more note on rivalries.  If you DON'T see a rivalry listed, it's remained unchanged.  Oregon-Washington isn't listed because those two teams were in the same division -- and still are, preserving the rivalry.

 

 

SCHEDULING

 

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Each team plays a 12-game regular season schedule, unchanged from the current NCAA model.  All teams play 9 conference games and 3 non-conference games.  Non-conference games may only be scheduled with one of the other 72 teams in this league.  I'm especially looking at you, SEC, with your "buy some extra BYE weeks by throwing Samford and Citadel on the schedule."  No more.  This non-conference scheduling also allows schools to add a regular or semi-regular rival from outside their conference.  Oklahoma and Texas had zero problem doing this when they were in the Big 8 and SWC.  In fact, that arrangement lasted longer than the 20-ish years of the Big XII.

 

For the conference slate, each team gets 5 annual divisional games, plus 4 crossover games split 2x2 against the other two divisions in the conference.  Those crossover games will rotate annually, rather than the home-and-home model that some teams use today.  This means that by the time an athlete reaches their third year on a team, they'll have played every single conference opponent at least once.  And if they're a 5-year player (redshirt), they'll have played 14 teams in the conference at least twice.

 

The reciprocating home-and-away agreement is nice but it also locks certain players into playing only certain teams from the other division.  In the example above, Nebraska gets to play Ohio State every third year, which is essentially the same frequency as the current Big Ten arrangement.  This model just allows for extra rotation with more teams.

 

 

POSTSEASON AND PLAYOFFS

Three divisions?  How does that work for a conference title game?  Stealing a wildcard page from the NFL, each conference will have three divisional winners, plus a wildcard team with the best record overall.  Ties are settled in the usual fashion (head-to-head record, "BCS" style rankings, etc).  The four teams are seeded 1v4 and 2v3 for effectively a mini-tournament within the conference.  In some cases, this will result in a divisional rematch.  Effectively, the Conference Semi-Finals and Conference Championships become games #13 and #14.  Conference winners move to a National Semi-Final, and then eventually a Final (games #15-16).  

 

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In the current model, we have 2 teams potentially playing a 15th game.  This concept means four teams play that 15th game and only 2 advance to a 16th.  Insert arguments about academics and travel expenses, but this doesn't really add any appreciable length to the overall season.  The 4 Conference Championships and 2 Semi-Finals will be split amongst the NYD6 Bowls, making sure to preserve the "special" quality of the Orange, Rose, Sugar, Cotton, Peach and Fiesta.  Further, each season the semi-final games are predetermined and will rotate.  Year 1 might feature B1G vs PAC and SEC vs ACC.  Year 2 would rotate to B1G vs SEC, and so forth, every three seasons.  The remaining teams not making any kind of postseason playoff would still participate in the Assorted Bag-o-Bowls, like the Gator or Music City.

 

 

 

Okay, time to open this thing up for questions, fellas. 


 

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So there's no promotion/relegation? 

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21 minutes ago, ATolly66 said:

So there's no promotion/relegation? 

it's college football 

why would there be if a majority of the players leave the league

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3 hours ago, ATolly66 said:

So there's no promotion/relegation? 

 

No. This isn't soccer.

 

Akron and Nevada can have a field day with whatever the G5 turns into. 

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UCF but no USF?  BYU and Colorado but not Colorado State (Montana)?  Breaking up Texas and Oklahoma?

 

I guess those would be the only real mistakes I see.

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This is fantastic. The following are just some picking nits that I see here, but I absolutely love this concept and presentation. It is quite evident that you put a ton of work into this concept. Kudos to you.

 

* As a Sparty fan, I hate seeing Ohio State, Notre Dame, and Michigan all in our division, but I suppose adding Notre Dame and losing Penn State is pretty much a wash. Indiana might not ever win a division game in this format.

* Losing the Red River Rivalry seems like a deal breaker (though, as you said, they could still schedule non conference). I stared at that map for about 15 minutes trying to move teams around, and it doesn't really work geographically, so I'm good with it.

* Just like real life, the PAC sucks.

* This point is without a ton of research, but Montana seems like a stretch. UNLV, SDSU maybe?

* In terms of overall strength, it'd probably go: 1 SEC, 2 B1G (huge gap), 3 ACC, 4 PAC

 

These are just some quick points. Can't stress enough, though, how much I enjoyed what you threw here together.

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10 minutes ago, HRC4 said:

This is fantastic. The following are just some picking nits that I see here, but I absolutely love this concept and presentation. It is quite evident that you put a ton of work into this concept. Kudos to you.

 

* As a Sparty fan, I hate seeing Ohio State, Notre Dame, and Michigan all in our division, but I suppose adding Notre Dame and losing Penn State is pretty much a wash. Indiana might not ever win a division game in this format.

* Losing the Red River Rivalry seems like a deal breaker (though, as you said, they could still schedule non conference). I stared at that map for about 15 minutes trying to move teams around, and it doesn't really work geographically, so I'm good with it.

* Just like real life, the PAC sucks.

* This point is without a ton of research, but Montana seems like a stretch. UNLV, SDSU maybe?

* In terms of overall strength, it'd probably go: 1 SEC, 2 B1G (huge gap), 3 ACC, 4 PAC

 

These are just some quick points. Can't stress enough, though, how much I enjoyed what you threw here together.

 

This is where my Cornhusker bias comes in a little bit, but losing Texas-Oklahoma as an annual in-conference rivalry is not really that big of a deal.

 

Nebraska and Oklahoma started playing each other annually back in 1921.  By the time the Big 6 became the Big 8, they'd had an annual game for 78 years straight.  And given the dominance of both programs, it was nearly always for the Big 8 crown.  After the Big XII was created (side note, the Big XII is technically a new conference, not an expanded Big 8), NU-OU was played only 8 times, and two of those were Conference Championships.  The Big XII effectively killed that rivalry, and Nebraska's departure to the Big Ten literally killed it.

 

Oklahoma and Texas, meanwhile, have been playing an almost-annual game since 1900.  So, yes the OU-UT series predates OU-NU, but the Husker-Sooner games were less interrupted.  But here's the kicker.  Oklahoma and Texas didn't share a conference until 1997.  In this realignment, OU and UT are absolutely free to continue an annual game, it would just be a non-conference game the same as it was for 97 years from 1900-1997.

 

There are a few other minor rivalries this affects, like Arkansas-Mizzou, but none are quite as pronounced as UT-OU.  I really wrestled with trying to get both into the same conference, but ultimately decided if the Sooners and Horns could play in real life for 97 years as non-conference rivals, they could continue to do so under this model.

 

One final note about schedule "fairness."  Oklahoma fans might object to having to beef up the schedule with an annual Texas non-conference game.  But remember that in this alignment, nobody is playing Troy, App State or James Madison.  The only non-con games come against the 3 other Power conferences, so while it might initially seem unfair that Oklahoma or Texas would have to eat up a non-con game with each other, it's worth remembering that every other team is effectively getting three games against what we would currently call the Power 5.  For example, if Texas' Athletic Director doesn't want to load up on non-con beefcakes, they just schedule Oklahoma, plus Purdue and Maryland.  Not every non-con game has to be against Alabama, Clemson or Ohio State.  

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I'm also interested to hear from fans of teams in the Southeast.  I really wrestled with busting up the SEC/ACC the way that I did, but felt like having smaller, regional divisions would help create more intense rivalries.

 

Plus, you get a situation where a team like Florida trades away Kentucky and Vandy for FSU and Miami.  That seems like a win, and the "loss" of a rivalry like Tennessee is partially made up for in a cross-over rotation.  

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Love everything except for Montana to the pac. They just simply aren't anywhere close to being a P5 school, and honestly never will be. If you want to go the FCS route, maybe move NDSU to the big ten because they've actually played and beaten those teams.

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22 minutes ago, H11K said:

Love everything except for Montana to the pac. They just simply aren't anywhere close to being a P5 school, and honestly never will be. If you want to go the FCS route, maybe move NDSU to the big ten because they've actually played and beaten those teams.

 

Montana is probably as good at football as Oregon State.  ;)

 

I thought about NDSU and also Wyoming as other alternatives.  Was trying to keep things to the Pacific NW / Rocky Mountains to even out the conferences.

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Can we vote to completely boot Kansas and Rutgers? (jokes)

No joke, your setup here has had me doing some statistical analysis for the better part of the past couple hours.

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I really feel that the ACC has not only gotten worse, but any traditional prestige gained from teams like Florida State and Miami has been removed as well. It really looks like "Clemson and 17 teams that will get beaten by Clemson".

I get what you're doing with Montana, but I'd rather see a bit wonkier division and include Colorado State, New Mexico, Nevada or Utah State instead.

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Gosh, this would stink.  Conferences are already too big in many cases.  No true champs.

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18 hours ago, dakotapalm said:

This is awesome. I want that Big Ten to exist.

I've never wanted anything more. 

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1 hour ago, stumpygremlin said:

USF and Houston are glaringly absent.

In a re-org that would want big names and good teams, Houston would be in.

5 hours ago, H11K said:

Love everything except for Montana to the pac. They just simply aren't anywhere close to being a P5 school, and honestly never will be. If you want to go the FCS route, maybe move NDSU to the big ten because they've actually played and beaten those teams.

Montana also doesn't want to move up. Colorado vs Colorado State is a big rivalry to the schools and would go away according to this setup.

7 hours ago, HRC4 said:

This is fantastic. The following are just some picking nits that I see here, but I absolutely love this concept and presentation. It is quite evident that you put a ton of work into this concept. Kudos to you.

 

* As a Sparty fan, I hate seeing Ohio State, Notre Dame, and Michigan all in our division, but I suppose adding Notre Dame and losing Penn State is pretty much a wash. Indiana might not ever win a division game in this format.

* Losing the Red River Rivalry seems like a deal breaker (though, as you said, they could still schedule non conference). I stared at that map for about 15 minutes trying to move teams around, and it doesn't really work geographically, so I'm good with it.

* Just like real life, the PAC sucks.

* This point is without a ton of research, but Montana seems like a stretch. UNLV, SDSU maybe?

* In terms of overall strength, it'd probably go: 1 SEC, 2 B1G (huge gap), 3 ACC, 4 PAC

 

These are just some quick points. Can't stress enough, though, how much I enjoyed what you threw here together.

Notre Dame would not be as consistent as Penn State, and I feel like Ohio State would rebel against losing the Nittany Lions.

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That WV coach leaving there for Houston tells me Houston is on the cusp

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As a Miami fan, I'm cool with it. I love getting FLA back, and protecting the FSU rivalry is clutch too. We lose a few other games I like, like VT, UVa, etc., but those are the two I'd want and we get it. Great idea tho man, really interested in this format. 

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This is a really good concept, and something I think would work. The only change I’d make is moving Texas over to the PAC, dropping Montana, and throwing Houston into the SEC.

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