21.6.16

ANOTHER ATTEMPT TO REFLATE THE BUBBLE?

How best deal with the dominance of the Southeastern Conference and the embarrassing presence of weak teams in some of the other power conferences?  Create a hierarchy of teams, with footie-style promotion and relegation.
College football's heavyweights, distributed through five conferences, are in the process of separating themselves from the rest of the sport. They want as big a slice as possible, and they are enacting benefits for players (full-cost-of-attendance scholarships) and for themselves (waterfalls in facilities) other schools can't afford.

These conferences are littered with dead weight. All five -- the ACC, Big 12, Big Ten, Pac-12, and SEC -- have programs that are there because they chose the right friends 80 years ago, are located near large population bases, or were good right when a major conference was looking for one more team.

Meanwhile, well-run small programs languish because their timing was bad or they don't bring big TV markets.

In the last 10 seasons, since Dan Hawkins left Boise State for Colorado, BSU has gone 15-6 against current power-conference teams and finished in the AP's top 11 five times. CU has gone 19-77 against power teams and attended one minor bowl. Which belongs to a power conference?
There's a lot of intellectual energy going into these relegation schemes. It's summer session -- if I were still active in the classroom it's likely there'd be an if-you'd-spend-half-the-time-you-spend-parsing-relegation pep talk or two going on.  The SB Nation version attempts to assign all the college football programs either to one of the five power conferences or to feeder leagues for such a conference.  In principle, Presbyterian (one of last year's crash test dummies for Northern Illinois) could work its way up and get a shot at a January prime-time game, trading places with Rutgers along the way.

Garret Heinrich of CBS Sports tries something different.  "Blow it up."  And reapportion.
Four regions. North, South, East And West. We are all familiar with those I assume.  Each region has 32 teams in it. This isn’t the perfect set up because the South (everything South of Kentucky, East from Georgia to Texas) would be 44 FBS football teams in it. The West would have 25 teams, the East has 27 and the north has 31.  So the South had to share a bit.  Georgia to the east. Some of Tennessee to the East and North. Half of Texas to the West.
For example, in the Great Lakes, you get the B1G plus the Mid-American.
The North looks a lot like the Big Ten now. Add Missouri, Kansas State and Kentucky. Remove the teams that didn’t make sense like Rutgers. Kansas is horrible at football and they start in the second tier.
Northwestern also got relegated, which isn't going to sit so well... And there won't be any purposeless bowls.  I fear, though, that the promotion round bowl games (in order that a Northern Illinois or Kansas can take the spot of a relegatee among the upper sixteen) may draw the same kind of ratings the six-win power team playing a mid-major gets.
Nineteen total games, if you include the 2nd Tier championships, seems like a lot more fun than the current 734 (approx.) bowls games we have to suffer through at the end of the season.  You would keep the big bowls, just like you do with the current playoff system. Make the Semi-Finals and Championship game stick with the three classic bowls, Rose, Sugar & Orange. They rotate between those 3 every year. Biggest bowls, good weather areas, they work the best.
There's yet another version being mooted by Tom Fornelli of CBS Sports.  But in his proposal are the seeds of college football's destruction.
Don't teams that play for national titles already have that advantage? Recruiting has never been an even playing field, and this system won't change much. If you move up in conference, your recruiting will likely improve, and as you drop, it'll likely become more difficult. All of which is basically the same way it works now.
Yes, and the way it works now, there's Idaho self-relegating, and Eastern Michigan, which is a consensus relegation candidate in all three proposals, might take a long hard look at continuing to spend money for not much success.

Perhaps, though, such a conference structure might offer university administrators a face saving way to get out of the positional arms race.  Take a hard look at the expenses required to earn a promotion, and decide whether or not to field any kind of a team.

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