A Modest Proposal For College Football Realignment

No, not that they should make the nets bigger. It seems that we are not done with college football realignment (and other sports as well) with Rutgers and Maryland’s recent moves and more in the works. You know there are. The short story is that the landscape of college football and college athletics in general will be dramatically changed by 2015. The Big East may have collapsed by then, actually. Anyway, there have been multiple realignment proposals that will never happen and I’d like to throw mine into that as well. Mine also ties into the oncoming playoff for FBS football as well, although it is expanded to the size that it probably should be to give it more of a March Madness feel. In this season’s BCS games, we saw a mid-major hang with one of the best defenses in college football for a good chunk of the game (By the way, fuck you Herbie.) and what could be the biggest BCS upset since Boise State took out Oklahoma with the ol’ statue of liberty back in the ’07 Fiesta Bowl. Upsets and small schools making noise. That’s what makes the NCAA basketball tournament so great, and what will make an expanded playoff system great. Remember, when we go to the four-team format in 2014, it’ll be filled by a selection committee and ESPN will likely have some influence on that one since they’ll own all the bowls the playoff will take place in. So the 2014 playoff will likely be, #1 seed – SEC champion, #2 seed – SEC runner-up, #3 seed – SEC team that lost its division but only because they lost one game to the eventual champs, and #4 seed – one lucky Big 10/Big 12/PAC-12 team. Those never included: Mountain West, Big East, ACC (with a Florida State exemption), and those other jagoff schools the above pay to inflate themselves to six guaranteed wins. Optimistic, ain’t I?

So with all the negativity that surrounds the game in my head, I propose the redevelopment of five super-conferences (then their claim of “every week is a playoff game” will be true) and three mid-major conferences. To determine my fantasy national champion, a ten-team playoff will be held throughout December and January until one team has shown, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that it is the best damn college football team in the land. And no, the names aren’t that great. I’m not that creative. If you wanna suggest some better conference names, please do so in the comments.


Metro East

  • Army
  • Boston College
  • Clemson
  • Connecticut
  • Duke
  • Maryland
  • Navy
  • North Carolina
  • N.C. State
  • Pittsburgh
  • Rutgers
  • Syracuse
  • Temple
  • Virginia
  • Virginia Tech
  • West Virginia
Great Midwest

  • Cincinnati
  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • Iowa
  • Iowa State
  • Kentucky
  • Louisville
  • Minnesota
  • Michigan
  • Michigan State
  • Northwestern
  • Notre Dame
  • Ohio State
  • Penn State
  • Purdue
  • Wisconsin
 Pacific Coast

  • Air Force
  • Arizona
  • Arizona State
  • Boise State
  • BYU
  • California
  • Nevada
  • Oregon
  • Oregon State
  • San Diego State
  • Stanford
  • UCLA
  • USC
  • Utah
  • Washington
  • Washington State

  • Alabama
  • Arkansas
  • Auburn
  • Florida
  • Florida State
  • Georgia
  • Georgia Tech
  • LSU
  • Miami
  • Mississippi
  • Mississippi State
  • South Carolina
  • South Florida
  • Tennessee
  • Vanderbilt
  • Wake Forest
 Great Plains

  • Baylor
  • Colorado
  • Houston
  • Kansas
  • Kansas State
  • Missouri
  • Nebraska
  • Oklahoma
  • Oklahoma State
  • Rice
  • Southern Methodist
  • TCU
  • Texas
  • Texas A&M
  • Texas Tech
  • Tulsa
Mountain West

  • Colorado State
  • Fresno State
  • Hawaii
  • Louisiana Tech
  • New Mexico
  • San Jose State
  • Tulsa
  • Tulane
  • UAB
  • UNLV
  • Utah State
  • UTEP
  • UTSA
  • Wyoming

  • Akron
  • Ball State
  • Bowling Green
  • Buffalo
  • Central Florida
  • Central Michigan
  • East Carolina
  • Eastern Michigan
  • Kent State
  • Massachusetts*
  • Miami of Ohio
  • Memphis
  • Northern Illinois
  • Ohio
  • Toledo
  • Western Michigan
 Sun Belt

  • Arkansas State
  • Charlotte***
  • Florida Atlantic
  • Florida International
  • Georgia State**
  • Louisiana-Lafayette
  • Louisiana-Monroe
  • Marshall
  • Middle Tennessee State
  • North Texas
  • Old Dominion***
  • South Alabama
  • Southern Mississippi
  • Texas State*
  • Troy
  • Western Kentucky

* = Full FBS membership in 2013
** = Full FBS membership in 2014
*** = Full FBS membership in 2015

Some quick analysis here. I tried to keep schools geographically close. Travel has been an issue and is about to become a bigger issue. Now, I’m not dumb enough to think that these schools won’t fund the travel for their football teams. It’s the other sports at the school, the Olympic sports, that will suffer from inflated football travel. So by keeping schools regional geographically, I’m hoping to save a few soccer and track programs. Also, I was hoping to keep historical rivalries going, seeing as there won’t be as many open dates for out-of-conference and interdivisional games in the super-conferences. If you figure on seven division games and one or two cross-divisional games in a twelve-game schedule, that doesn’t leave a ton of room for out of conference rivals. Now, for example, Clean, Old Fashioned Hate between Georgia and Georgia Tech becomes a likely division game at the end of the year, instead of an out of conference jaunt. Admittedly though, there are a few schools that get hosed in this arrangement and it’s mostly because they were just kinda left over at the end. Marshall and USM ended up in the new Sun Belt because there was really no place else to put them. They really didn’t justify promotion into their nearest super-conference but weren’t close enough to join much of anything else. Same thing with Central Florida, although they at least have some history with MAC schools since they were members from 2001-2005. Really, Conference USA made things difficult since their footprint is so spread out. Rice, Army, Air Force, SDSU, and Houston get the shot at the bigs as they gained promotion to a super-conference. Notre Dame fans may say that they got hosed by being tied down by a conference, but if you really look at the conference, 80-90% of your current schedule is still possible in this configuration. We could probably work out some kind of waiver so you don’t have to share the massive wad of cash you get from NBC every year if it will shut you the hell up. Just don’t expect too big a piece of bowl revenues…
Now, as I said, each conference would have to divide into two divisions and hold a championship game. Which leads into my explanation for the new playoff system.

National Championship Tournament


First Round Qualifiers

  • Mountain West champions
  • Mid American champions
  • Sun Belt champions
  • at-large bid (2nd highest ranked non-champion)

Qualify to Quarterfinals

  • Metro East champions
  • Pacific Coast champions
  • Southeastern champions
  • Great Midwest champions
  • Great Plains champions
  • at-large bid (highest ranked non-champion)

The final would obviously be a standalone game, like the current BCS Championship. The four current BCS bowls (Rose, Fiesta, Orange and Sugar) would rotate between national semifinal hosts and hosting the two quarterfinal games without first round participants. The other four games will be hosted by a rotating pool containing the Cotton Bowl, Gator Bowl, Capital One Bowl, Chick-fil-A Bowl (only if they go back to being called the Peach Bowl in some fashion), Holiday Bowl, Outback Bowl and Alamo Bowl.

So now feel free to pick this one apart. The more ideas in the discussion the better.

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