By: Garret Heinrich – On Twitter @GarretHeinrich
Another college football offseason and another summer talking about if this school will leave this conference or this team will join this conference. Will the Big 12 expand? Will they add a championship game? Should we expand the playoffs? A lot of questions out there. And that isn’t even talking about paying players, transfer rules, coaches leaving. Now seems like the perfect time to just blow it all up. Make it new. Make it better and make it far more interesting.
A few things to state before I break down how this new system would shake out:
- Idaho is out of the FBS (leaving anyway) and keeping newcomer University of Texas – San Antonio (UTSA) in for a nice even 128 teams.
- Breaking up the teams as regionally as possible not worrying too much about traditional rivalries, looking for the best simplest way to do regions and conferences.
- I’m assuming that the powers that be are not thinking about pissing people off and hurting feelings and that they are looking to the future and the overall improvement of the sport.
- Not worrying about other sports. They can follow college football or they can do their own thing. This is ONLY for college football.
That make sense? Let’s get started on fixing College Football.
Four regions. North, South, East And West. We are all familiar with those I assume. Each region has 32 teams in it. This isn’t the perfect set up because the South (everything South of Kentucky, East from Georgia to Texas) would be 44 FBS football teams in it. The West would have 25 teams, the East has 27 and the north has 31. So the South had to share a bit. Georgia to the east. Some of Tennessee to the East and North. Half of Texas to the West.
Here is a handy little map that shows how everything is separated in the four regions:
Each of the four 32 team regions has two 16 team conferences. A 1st tier conference and a 2nd tier conference. Here are how the specific conferences break out for each region. (Don’t worry about who is in each division, that can be reorganized to make sure that classic rivalries stand, that sort of thing. It’s more about who is in each tier and region):
An enhanced SEC. Texas and Oklahoma schools get the benefit of joining the best conference in the country. Smaller Southern schools play good equal competition and they get the chance to jump up with the big boys. We’ll get to that in a minute.
The East gets an upgrade. They get Georgia, South Carolina, and Clemson. In the second tier, they get upstart Appalachian St. and on again off again good Rutgers.
The North looks a lot like the Big Ten now. Add Missouri, Kansas State and Kentucky. Remove the teams that didn’t make sense like Rutgers. Kansas is horrible at football and they start in the second tier.
The West also should look fairly familiar. Very similar to the Pac 12, but getting Boise St., Colorado St., BYU, and Texas Tech should round out the 16-team conference nicely.
That is how the teams get set in their regions, conferences, tiers, divisions. So what does that mean for the schedule for each of these teams?
This actually becomes pretty easy. We’re going to cut the regular season back to 10 games. This is because of expanding the playoffs a bit, and the worry of playing these kids too many games. (*I mean they are student athletes, they have to work on their school work at some time. It is why they are going to school right!?*)
7: Divisional games –
Each team will play every team in their division once a year. Rotate home and away each season with opponents.
1: Inter-conference cross divisional game –
Allow the conferences to work with each other to figure out who they want to play each year. If Auburn and LSU are in different divisions and the conference wants to schedule that game every year, that is fine. If the conferences want to make the team play their equal in the opposite division from the previous year (ex. 1st place plays 1st place, 2nd plays 2nd…etc.) that is fine as well.
1: Inter-regional cross-tier game –
Each team will have one game scheduled against a team in their same region in a lower tier. Again we’ll allow the conferences to work this out. If Kansas State wants to schedule Kansas every year they are in different tiers, that is fine by me.
1: Out of region game –
Each team will play someone from another region. It can be cross-tier or the same tier, it doesn’t matter, whatever the schools can agree on. If USC and Notre Dame want to continue their historic game, that is great. If Alabama wants to continue beating teams like Georgia State 45-3 and Georgia State is happy with that, so-be-it.
That makes up the ten game schedule for each team. So what happens when the regular season is finished? GLAD YOU ASKED!
Who Gets In –
8: Tier one division winners. The teams that win their division and are in tier one get automatic bids to the playoffs.
4: Tier one wild card teams. The best team in each tier one conference that doesn’t win their division gets into the playoffs. One from each region, regardless of record.
4: Tier two conference champions. The two division winners from tier two in each region will play a championship game to determine who wins the conference and gets a bid to the playoffs.
Now that we have our 16 teams for the College Football Playoffs we have a pretty good look at the best teams in the country. Each region gets four teams into the tournament and even if you don’t win your division (i.e. You are Michigan and your only loss on the year is to Ohio State on the road) you can still have a chance at the National Championship.
Placing the 16 teams in the tournament:
We know that the NCAA still wants to have rankings and polls and a say in who plays in the championship game. We are giving them that with the 16 teams that make the tournament. The College Football Playoff Committee will seed the 16 teams 1 through 16 for the tournament once all the teams are decided.
Here is how the tournament will look:
Nineteen total games, if you include the 2nd Tier championships, seems like a lot more fun than the current 734 (approx.) bowls games we have to suffer through at the end of the season. You would keep the big bowls, just like you do with the current playoff system. Make the Semi-Finals and Championship game stick with the three classic bowls, Rose, Sugar & Orange. They rotate between those 3 every year. Biggest bowls, good weather areas, they work the best.
The Quarterfinals would rotate between four bowls in each region. The Fiesta Bowl for the west, the Cotton Bowl for the South, Chicago for the North and New York or DC for the East. Those are four solid places to have the quarterfinals. The first round would be held in different places around the country that could also be sponsored. It could be rotated between different cities every year or just lock down eight venues you like and go with it. There are plenty of good cities to hold those games in. And you can sell the hell out of them. Get rid of the 30 bowls no one cares about and sell the 20 games people care about for a premium.
The Tier 2 Championships would be at a predetermined site every year for each conference, it can be rotated, it can be a neutral sitewhatever that conference decides.
So that is how the playoffs would work. Now to the wrinkle no one will like, except the people who love it.
If you don’t know what relegation is, it is a system used in most European soccer leagues where the bottom two or three teams (depending on the league) are sent down to a lower level league while the lower league sends up their best two to three teams to the higher league based on their record for that season. A team can be relegated one year, then play in the lower league and get promoted the next year.
In this college football system, we are not going to relegate/promote a team just based on their one year output. Because the season is so short (10 games), because you can be crushed by an early injury, and because the lower tier still makes a playoff spot we don’t want tanking to play in tier two for one year. We are not going to give teams a buffer and relegate/promote them based on their overall record for every three year period. This rewards the teams that play well in the second tier by giving them three years to get acclimated to the top year before being put up for relegation. It also makes sure a team can’t have one bad year and be dropped down to tier two. If a team is bad for three years, they get relegated and will have to prove themselves for three years to gain promotion to tier one. They are still eligible for the National Championship in tier two by winning their tier two championship.
Promotion and relegation will start after the third season is completed in the new system. (i.e. If we started the system for the 2016 season after the 2018 season the first teams would be promoted and relegated.)
Each year four teams will be promoted from the Tier 2 to Tier 1 based on their three-year regular season average record. One team from each region will be placed in the division of the team that is relegated. Every four years (after the promotion is decided) the conference can choose to realign the divisions to help travel and rivalries.
If two teams are tied in overall regular season average record, the first tie-breaker will be Tier 2 Conference Championships, followed by Head-to-Head record then Playoff record. Other tie breakers would be division record, common opponents, and cross-tier record.
Each year four teams will be relegated from Tier 1 to Tier 2 based on their overall regular season record for the past three seasons. Each team will replace the promoted team in Tier 2 in that division. A team that is relegated can still make the playoffs from Tier 2, they just have to win their Tier championship game. Any relegated team is able to be promoted anytime their three-year average record is the highest in their Tier. Every four years (after relegation is decided) the conference can choose to realign the divisions to help travel and rivalries.
If two teams are tied with the worst record in their Tier 1 conference the first tie-breaker will be head-to-head record. The team that has the better head-to-head record will avoid relegation. The second tie-breaker will be record against common opponents, then division record. For relegation, the team that has the better record will avoid relegation that year.
THE BOTTOM LINE:
The overall goal for the new college football system is to create the most competitive, entertaining and fair way to allow all the colleges in the country to compete. Could a team like the University of Houston make a run as a Tier 2 champion? Can they stay in Tier 1? The amount of games that are important for the season increases. The increase in important games means an increase in interested eyeballs. An increase in interested eyeballs means more money for the conferences and the NCAA for advertisers (any maybe one day players). And that is not bad for anybody.