Tag Archives: Division III

Promotion and Relegation in College Football

In my last column, we explored what realignment into 16-team power conferences might look like.  And, when I posted it on my Facebook page, some friends responded with their own ideas.

First, there was my cousin, Chris Creguer, who suggested blowing up the Big 12 and dispersing its teams into the four remaining Power 5 conferences.  That could work and I can see the NCAA falling in love with that system.

That’s too easy, though, too neat and tidy, too realistic.  So when a college buddy of mine, Ryan Schadewald, floated his idea of getting rid of the conferences altogether and going to promotion and relegation style, similar to that of the English football pyramid, I knew I’d found my next project.

Divisional Structure

From now until the end of football (which is probably much closer than any one of us is willing to admit), the college game will consist of multiple 15-team divisions playing a 14-game round robin regular season schedule over a 15-week period.

Opening Week 2016 is August 22-28.  Closing Week 2016 will be November 28 – December 3. Games are to be played on Saturdays only.  Each division will have one primetime game per week.

The top four finishers in the Division I standings will compete in the Division I Playoff.  First round games are the week following the conclusion of the regular season (December 10, 2016).  After a bye week, the winners of the first round meet in the Division I Championship Game (December 24, 2016).

The bottom four teams in the standings are relegated to Division II and replaced by four D-II teams for the following season.

In Division II and below, the top finisher in the standings earns automatic promotion into the next highest division.  The Playoffs in these divisions will determine the other three promotion spots with second place facing seventh place, third meeting sixth, and fourth playing fifth, in a single round, the week after the regular season.

Postseason Play

Once the regular season is over, schools which have not qualified for any playoffs may compete against each other, across the divisions.  In other words, if former rivals want to get together but one is in Division I and the other’s in Division IV, now’s the time for that to happen.

Call them friendlies, bowl games, whatever.  They’re essentially the same thing.  These contests are completely optional and must be mutually agreed upon.  They also may not be scheduled on Saturdays, which are reserved for the Playoffs.

When the Playoffs are completed, all teams are available for postseason play.  If the Division I champ wants to accept a challenge from the D-II regular season champ, I’m sure many would tune in.

January 1 is the new cutoff for the college football season.  Sitting around all day watching football is a New Year’s tradition.  It’d be a shame to cancel that, but after the first we need to move on.

Standings and Overtime

No college football game shall ever end in a tie.  Don’t worry.  The overtime structure is so nearly perfect the way it is.  The only change is that possessions will now begin from the 50-yard line, not the 25.  This will take away the comfort of knowing that you’ll still have a makeable field goal attempt even if you lose five yards.

Since there will be no single points earned through draws, as in soccer, it took some creativity to come up with a system for keeping standings.

  • 1 point in the standings for an overtime loss
  • 2 points for a win in overtime
  • 3 points for a win in regulation
  • 1 bonus point for winning a game by 36 points or more
  • 1 bonus point for scoring 50 points or more in a game
  • 1 bonus point for a shutout

Therefore, the “perfect game” would be a regulation shutout win by at least 50 points.  Such wins are awarded another extra point in the standings, for a total of seven (3 for win, 1 for 36-point win, 1 for scoring 50, 1 for the shutout, and 1 for the “perfect game”).

Scoring in such a way will lead to more dynamic movement than seven teams earning two points each for a win, and eight teams (including the team with a bye) earning no points.

Awarding bonus points for those achievements within the game works because this system lends itself to more parity than we see now when Power 5’ers host FCS squads.

Division Breakdown

Chances are you’re wondering where your team fits in all of this madness.  Many of you are going to be angry with me for putting your team where it belongs, but keep in mind the beauty of this system.

Each and every team in the entirety of college football has an opportunity to play its way up the ladder.  If you don’t like playing D-IV football, then earn promotion into D-III.

Keeping all that in mind, here’s the breakdown of the initial divisional splits:

Division I Division II Division III Division IV Division V
Alabama Georgia Washington State Arizona Navy
Ohio State LSU California Arizona State Indiana
Clemson Utah Arkansas Texas A&M Illinois
Oklahoma USC Auburn Mississippi State Louisiana Tech
Stanford UCLA BYU Boise State Central Michigan
Notre Dame Michigan State Nebraska Western Michigan Bowling Green
Florida State Wisconsin Penn State Northern Illinois Akron
Florida Oklahoma State Texas Tech Marshall Ohio
Ole Miss Texas Pittsburgh NC State Nevada
Oregon Louisville Duke Minnesota Air Force
Houston North Carolina Memphis Kansas State Colorado State
TCU Miami (FL) Western Kentucky South Florida Kentucky
Michigan Temple Arkansas State Cincinnati Southern Miss
Iowa West Virginia Toledo San Diego State Appalachian State
Tennessee Northwestern Washington Virginia Tech Baylor

Whine and complain all you want, but understand that placing the teams is the least important aspect of the plan.  In three years, the whole thing would look totally different.  Cool your jets.

Obviously, these are only the top 75 teams.  There are 128 teams currently in FBS, 125 in FCS, 171 in Division II, 248 in Division III, and 86 in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA).

From the big boys all the way down to University of Saint Mary in Leavenworth, Kansas with an enrollment of 400, that’s a grand total of 758 teams in all of college football.  The list above represents just 10 percent of the participants under the new system.


There you have it, the system that would bring college football into a new era of equal opportunity for all.  I’m sure there are holes in my theory, but I’m so convinced that this would be the greatest thing in sports that I haven’t even fully thought it through, to be honest with you.

Promotion and relegation makes every week of the season fun for all teams in all divisions.  No matter where you are in the standings, you’ve always got something to play for.  That’s why I think this is the way to go forward.

Now, let’s hear your take.  I love having people explain to me why I’m an idiot.  Find me on Twitter @GreatGatzke, or e-mail [email protected]

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Baldwin-Wallace Busted for Illegal Financial Aid

Early last week, the local Cleveland college Baldwin-Wallace made a public statement after an internal audit announcing the athletic department and its teams, coaches, and players would be skipping postseason play for all twenty-three varsity sports this year. B-W is a Division III school in Berea, Ohio who is part of the Ohio Athletic Conference (OAC).

The University is investigating financial aid that was illegally awarded to their 500+ student-athletes. After they concluded their internal audit, there were certain red flags that triggered this investigation and now the NCAA will investigate this as well. The teams immediately affected are the football, volleyball, and men’s and women’s soccer teams. The football team is competing for second place in the conference behind Mount Union of course and had a shot at an at-large bid in the NCAA tournament. The women’s soccer team had earned the second-seed in the conference tournament this past week but pulled out at the last minute. The men’s soccer team, who earned the sixth-seed in the OAC tournament learned of their fate just minutes before loading the bus to their quarterfinal match up in Wilmington, Ohio. Had Hurricane Sandy not pushed back the men’s tournament a day, they would have played Tuesday and if they had won they would have had to forfeit the semifinals to John Carroll. All other sports for the remainder of this season will play their regular season schedule (for now) and regardless of how they finish they will not make the postseason tournaments.

Knowing that the NCAA will likely pile on punishments to the ones the university has already enacted is going to kill all recruiting efforts made this year. There are not many players at the Division III level who just want to go and play for any team. They are not getting paid to play so they want to win more than anything. Selling Baldwin-Wallace to prospective student-athletes is going to be a difficult task at least until the school knows the severity of the NCAA’s verdict.

Many questions stem from this whole ordeal. One is how many Division I schools are doing something of the same magnitude or greater? Yes, D-I schools are able to give their student-athletes scholarships unlike D-III, but are they giving more than they are permitted? Or are they giving to more players than allowed? Are they finding any loopholes that they can to remain competitive in the NCAA? I am sure that each school does their own internal audits, but are the auditors paid to keep their findings private? The incident in Berea may have been a complete accident, but regardless it points out flaws within the NCAA. Maybe the NCAA should appoint its own auditors to audit each member institution. I do give the school a lot of respect for sort of turning themselves in for this instance. How many D-I schools sweep their actions under a rug and leave it up to the NCAA or a third party to blow the whistle.

Regardless of what the NCAA decides the punishment is worth the real losers here are the current student-athletes at Baldwin-Wallace–especially this year. It’s too late to transfer for the players who have yet to begin their seasons. And for the players in season they do not get to reap the benefits of their regular season success.

Do you agree with B-W for taddling on themselves? How many D-1 schools hide their illegal findings? Let me know in the comment section or on Twitter @Believelander.

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