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.
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.
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.
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|
|Ohio State||LSU||California||Arizona State||Indiana|
|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|
|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|
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]