FanPost

Future of College Football (2of2): Utopia

If you've forgotten, here is what college football landscape looks like: Part 1

I wrote this because regardless of conference realignment, college football will never grow to what it can be in this country unless there is more structure in the operation of the sport. I really don't care how this happens. You can call it the NCAA, BCS or The College Football League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (CFLEG), but there has to be more uniformity to take CFB to the next level of prosperity. For simplicity sake, we will call this new governing body that all football operates under... CFB. Below are the guidelines, which conferences and teams must follow. (I will give reasoning or examples of each of these at the end)

Year 2020

CFB: Structure

Tier 1- Five Major football conferences (14 members, two divisions of 7)

  • Pac12, Big12, B1G, SEC, ACC

Tier 2- Five Mid-Major football conferences (9 members, no divisions)

  • A-E (names are irrelevant)

*FCS still exists under this

CFB: Scheduling

Tier 1- (12 game) regular season for all teams

  • Conference Schedule (8 games)

Each conference will play a 6-1-1 division format

  • 6 games against divisional opponents
  • 1 game against permanent cross-divisional rival
  • 1 game against rotating cross-divisional opponent

Non-Conference Schedule (4 games)

  • 1 game outside Tier 1 (Tier2 or FCS team)
  • 1 game against Inter-Conference divisional opponent
  • 2 open schedule games (any Tier1 team)

Tier 2- (12 game) regular season for all teams

  • Conference Schedule (8 games)
  • Team plays round-robin in conference

Non-Conference Schedule (4 games)

  • 2 games outside of Tier2 (Tier1 or FCS)
  • 2 games (any Tier2 teams)

CFB: Season

Tier 1: 13 week (12 games, 1 bye) with conf. championship on 14th week

Wk: Games to be played

1. Non-Conference

2. Non-Conference

3. Opening of Conference Play (conference games only)

4. Non-Conference, Conference, or BYE

5. Non-Conference, Conference, or BYE

6. Non-Conference, Conference, or BYE

7. Non-Conference, Conference, or BYE

8. Non-Conference, Conference, or BYE

9. Inter-Conference Divisional Challenge

10. Conference Only

11. Conference Only

12. Conference Only

13. Conference Only

14. Conference Championship

Tier 2: 13 week (12 games. 1 bye), Tier 2 championship on 14th week

CFB Conference and Tier2 Championship (Wk 14)

Division Leaders of each conference meet to decide conference champion

Top 2 Tier2 teams meet to decide Tier2 Champion

CFB Playoffs

First Round (Wk 16)

  • 8 Teams (5 conf. champs, 2 at-large, Tier2 champ)

Teams are ranked 1-8 and play accordingly

  • 4 games are played through Rose, Fiesta(Cotton), Sugar and Orange
Championship Week

  • Site bid out each year
  • Semi-Finals played (Wk 18)
  • Finals played (Wk 19)

CFB Bowls

  • Bowls can be played starting Wk 15 until semi-finals
  • Bowl eligible teams not participating in playoff

*Teams that lose in playoff cannot play in separate bowl

Structure- According to the data CBS compiled recently, there are 5 power conferences. Since the BCS began in 1998, the ACC is 3rd (ahead of Big12/Pac12) in number of teams placed in final BCS top25 and 4th (ahead of Pac12) in total points of top25 (#1 rank gets 25 and #2 gets 24, and so on). If you look at just the last 5 years (since 2007), the ACC falls to 5th in both categories. Conferences will never be equal. The SEC very well may be the best football conference in the nation for the next 20 years, but will they win the NC that whole time? No. Just as they have had a great run producing champions, it is possible they could go the next 5 years without having a team win the NC. These things will go in cycles. Why only 14 team conferences? Well first, if college football is going to unify and operate better then the power conferences need to have the same number of teams. It should be 12 or more so conferences can have 2 divisions and a championship game. If at 12, there would be too many very valuable teams not included and so it would tempt conferences not performing to look into changing membership or leaving and expanding. The whole point of this was to find a stabilization point. So 14 would cure most of that. Greater than 14 actually becomes dangerous for conferences. I think of it in terms of Entropy. With the addition of each team to a conference, the amount of disorder increases (each school has its own values, views and wants). So more energy (money/success) is continuously needed to keep the schools happy and from breaking apart. Once you get to 16+, there is too much risk, even if you take the 16 best teams in the nation. They all cant be winners. The exceptional will stay around the top, some will go up and down, and you'll have new bottom dwellers. So you don't want a larger amount of teams that are disgruntled to pool together. A commissioner of a 16+ team conference would be worried about 8 teams leaving and starting their own conference every year.

Scheduling- For college football to be the best, conference play must remain relevant, but fans want to see better nonconference schedules. An 8-game conference schedule puts emphasis on the divisions. Each team will get a permanent cross-division rival, and play the rest on a rotating basis. Six games against divisional opponents and only two games against cross division teams is more fair for crowning divisional champs when teams may have weaker or stronger cross-divisional rivals (Wake gets Duke annually, while Miami gets FSU). When conferences are larger more conference games are needed, which means less nonconference matchups and eventually more conferences teams you may not play often. In order for this future to be successful, play between conferences is vital. And not just between the top programs. But there's too much disparity between how teams schedule. Some schools(Texas Tech), haven't played an nonconference BCS school since 2003. Some schools play two FCS teams and others one or none. So for the new schedule, every Tier1 team must schedule ONE game against either a Tier2 or FCS team. Sorry, but college football cannot be successful if only the top 50 teams play each other. This gives schools options as well. A school like Texas Tech may feel their conference schedule is tough enough so they schedule a FCS team, while Utah may feel they need to boost their schedule, so they add one of the top Tier2 teams (SOS will come into play for at-large playoff selection). The next nonconference development is the Inter-Conference Divisional Challenge or ICDC (I'll take suggestions for better names). Every year, a conference division is paired with another conference's division and teams are matched up. For instance, the ACC North division could be paired with the SEC west division one year. With 7 games there will be no ties so it becomes a great divisional pride part to college football. AND it guarantees more great nonconference matchups that wouldn't normally happen and gets teams to all parts of the country at some point. The last two nonconference games are free for schools to choose except they must be other Tier1 schools. This will allow current rivalries to remain and allow teams to be flexible to their own wants. USC-ND, UF-FSU, UGA-GT, UI-ISU, CU-USC and KU-UM can all keep their storied annual rivalry by using of one of the two available games. [Maryland's potential 2020 opponents: BC, Syracuse, Miami, ND, Pitt, Wake, UVA(permanent rival), Clemson(rotating cross-division team), Navy(Tier2 nonconference), Vanderbilt(ACCnorth-SECeast challenge), WVU(nonconference) and PSU(nonconference)]

Season- No surprises, 13 weeks with 12 games and 1 bye week. The conference championships immediately follow on week 14. However, there are now stipulations to when you can play certain games. The first two weeks are strictly nonconference games(not ICDC team). College football is back, there is plenty of excitement and plenty of great nonconference games. Then the 3rd week of the season is the opening of conference play. Every Tier1 team will be playing their first conference opponent(this weekend would be insane!!). This puts emphasis on the conference season but NO, that does not make the first two weeks "like preseason". In the first two weeks you could still major rivalries like UF-FSU or other big time matchups like Clemson-Auburn. So there will be plenty of fantastic football. And the games absolutely matter. If Clemson stumbles in the ACC conference championship game and are being looked at for an at-large playoff spot, the committee could look back and see they had a huge win over Auburn in the first week. The next five weeks(4-8) are for scheduling flexibility by having 5 weeks to have 3 conference games, 1 nonconference and 1 bye. Week 9 is the Inter-Conference Divisional Challenge(again, because all conferences are uniform in size, each team is paired and all can play). This would revitalize any mid-season slump of fan enthusiasm. Best thing about this week? It marks the home stretch to conference championships (wk10-13). If you've been counting at home, every team will have only played 4 conference games... that means EVERY team is STILL in the hunt for their division technically. This is how college football should be. All nonconference games over, 4 weeks left and you have to make it through your conference to make it to the top. This keeps every team and every conference relevant late into the season.

Conference Championships(Wk14)- After the regular season, the two divisional leaders of each conference will meet. The playoff committee would also have picked the top 2 teams in Tier2 to meet to determine the Tier2 champion.

Playoffs- I hope everyone is excited for 2014, but know that it won't stay at only 4 for too long. Some people want 16, but 16 teams qualifying for the playoffs makes the regular season and conferences too irrelevant. 8 teams are perfect. Five major conference champions(makes conferences and regular season meaningful), Tier2 champion(makes playoff available to the rest of CFB not in Tier1), and two at-large selections from Tier1. With two at-large selections, it allows a conference to potentially send its top 3 schools so currently successful conferences(SEC/Big12) won't feel like it's teams are snubbed for not winning the conference. Why not just top 8? Conferences need to be relevant. And I may lose people here, but I don't care how great a conference is or how presumably bad a conference is. All five major conferences of CFB have great programs. They will never be equal every year. A playoff debate should not be between a conference champ and the 4th place team of another conference because one conference was tougher than the other. I don't care how great that conference is that season. The 4th place team got their shot, and they didn't make the best of it that season. Lesson- Take care of your own business, and you don't have to worry about this (ACC teams have learned this the past couple seasons when it came to the BCS). So why a Tier2 team? It's only 1 spot out of 8. The postseason must be accessible to all of CFB! But that same 4th place team now gets snubbed for a weaker conference champ and then a Tier2 champ that they must be better then right?... One- The top2 Tier2 teams will actually be good football teams. Two- March Madness is the most successful postseason there is and it proves time and time again that schools, even from weaker conferences, can succeed at the highest level, and it can be one of the most exciting things to watch. Remember, the postseason is for all CFB fans, not just fans of the 8 teams. The first round games are held at the Rose, Sugar, Orange and Fiesta(or whatever replaces it) two weeks from the conference championships. These bowl people are included and happy. Tradition is saved and bowls could either rotate order of picking the matchup they wanted to host or could pick an affiliated conference champ and their opponent. Each year, a site will bid to host BOTH the semi-finals and championship. The semi-finals will be played two weeks after the first round, and the national championship will be ONE week later. Yes, this is completely feasible. For the teams, it means 3 games in 5 weeks. This does not need to be drawn out. Having the semis and final at the same location a week apart and at the same location will provide an atmosphere like none other. It would become annual CFB mecca, championship week. Also, a reason for the season schedule is to abide to certain dates. These athletes are students so the academic calendar needs to be considered. The season is getting drawn out as it is. It cannot be longer. Also there are 2 big dates that college football has historically owned, Christmas and New Years. Major events should be focused around those dates. Also happen to be a week apart? Good time for vacations and traveling to a major sporting event?

According to my season: Here are the 7 possible season dates.

Season

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

Start

8/29

8/28

8/27

9/2 L

8/31 L

8/30 L

9/1 L

End

11/21

11/20

11/19

11/25 T

11/23

11/22

11/24 T

Conf Ch.

11/28 T

11/27 T

11/26 T

12/2

11/30 T

11/29 T

12/1

1st Rd

12/12

12/11

12/10

12/16

12/14

12/13

12/15

Semis

12/26

12/25

12/24

12/30

12/28

12/27

12/29

Final

1/2

1/1

12/31

1/6

1/4

1/3

1/5

L = Labor Day weekend, T = Thanksgiving weekend

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