Just after I got back from my most recent trip to Nevada, I got my latest issue of Sports Illustrated, the big college-football preview. And as I look over the latest stories of what teams are moving to what conferences, where the money is going and where the power is focused, I came to the realization that college football is a steaming pile of crap. For all intents and purposes, the season is already pretty much over for about 50 of the 120 teams in the Football Bowl Subdivision (a stupid a name as it gets), as they have absolutely no shot at even getting a sniff at the still-fictitious National Championship, because they operate beyond the six largest conferences, which quite literally control the Bowl Championship Series, effectively locking out those 50 or so schools from competing.
So I said to myself, 'how would I fix it?' So here's my simple, cold-blooded solution to creating a fair, straight-forward system to naming a national champion.
1.) Limiting the number of teams
Remember that I said there are 120 schools participating in the FBS.... fuck it. It's Division 1A. I fucking hate that stupid name. Now where was I? Oh yes. 120 schools, competing in eleven conferences, with four independent schools (Notre Dame, Army, Navy, now joined by BYU). That's about twenty too many. So they've got to go. First off, it's time to take off the belt. As in the Sun Belt Conference. While that conference has generated some good players in its brief tenure in 1A, its nine member schools are aboard the 1A train for little more than meals and quarters, so they're gone. That leaves eleven teams left to cut, and that can be done by culling the bottom-feeders from the remaining 'mid-major' conferences (Western Athletic, Mountain West, Mid-American, Conference USA), and reorganizing the 100 remaining teams in to ten ten-team conferences.
2.) Simple scheduling
These ten conferences will all play simple ten-game schedules, playing all nine conference foes as well as one non-conference game. Five home games, five road games. Simple, no? And there will be no games scheduled against non-D1A schools. No more cupcakes. And no more independent schools, either. If you're not in a conference, you're not playing in D1A any more, simple as that.
3.) Simple playoff system
After the ten-game regular season is over, the ten conference champions are joined by the best six remaining teams as determined by computer rankings. The sixteen teams are then seeded by those same computer rankings. The first round of the playoffs takes place on the home fields of the top eight seeds, while the quarters, the semis, and the final all take place in the major bowl games, like the Rose, Sugar, Orange et al.
The counter-argument to a playoff system has been the excuse of players playing too many games, especially when the academic calendar puts semester finals during bowl season. I call bullshit on that. Teams in the largest conferences can play as many as fourteen games a season already, between a twelve-game regular season, conference championship and bowl game. My system would put no more strain on players than what currently exists.
And what about the rest of the bowls? Keep 'em! Maybe even arrange them into a football version of the NIT. Some bowls may not survive, since there may not be as many bowl-eligible teams left out there for them to pick from. But we've all seen shitty bowl games between mediocre teams and scratched our heads at the thought of it, so maybe a few less bowl games isn't such a bad idea.
4.) Yes, promotion and relegation
The simple fact is that college football expanded like it has because of the expanding pool of money being offered to the NCAA, the conferences, and to individual schools themselves, in the form of television revenues. Where do these teams come from? From 1AA conferences, of course. The WAC has continually raided the 1AA Big Sky Conference for talent (Boise State, Nevada and Idaho), and will likely do so again after Nevada, Hawai'i, and Fresno State join Boise State in the Mountain West, with 1AA powerhouse Montana likely the WAC's first target in an attempt to stave off irrelevancy and effective banishment from 1A. (NOTE: Under current NCAA rules, for a conference to be recognized as 'official', it must have at least eight members - the departures mentioned above will leave the WAC with only five member schools) And then there's the Sun Belt - entirely lifted from 1AA.
But why not give those schools a chance to move up? Here's my idea: Of the ten last-place finishers, the worst of the worst, number 100 of 100, will play the 1AA champion from a conference in the same region in a promotion/relegation game, with the winner going to 1A, and the loser going to 1AA. Once again, simple as that.
I know, you probably hate my idea. But I don't care. This is my blog and mine alone, so therefore it's my opinion and mine alone. Don't like it? Start your own blog and tell the world what your opinions are. Over the next few days, I'll come up with new conference alignments, and even altogether-new conferences, and I'll explain my reasoning for moving what teams where.