Ohio State Football, Sports

College Football Rethink

10.19.07 | 5 Comments

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It has been a crazy season thus far, and it is likely only going to get crazier in the next few weeks leading up to bowl season. So as a thought exercise, how would you redesign college football if you had a blank page? That’s all this is, a thought exercise as the chances are slim to none (focus on none) that such an exercise will come to pass. But it does make you think.

The first thing that I thought about is, what absolutely would you not want to lose from the current situation? Here’s what I thought:

  • Integrity of the regular season. Say what you will about the broken BCS and Bowl system, but it does make each regular season game take on more importance than say, in college basketball or professional football.
  • Pagentry and tradition of bowls. With the implementation of the BCS and the introduction of so many minor bowl games, this aspect has kind of been lost and it’s a shame.
  • Revenue opportunities of the 12 game season. While schools have gone overboard scheduling 67 IAA games this year to help round out the season, it’s still good to have a consistent 12 game schedule.
  • Rivalries. The best rivalries in sports, bar none, exist in college football.
  • Ending the season on January 1st. This has been lost, but needs to be recovered.

All this being said, there are some things that are definitely broken badly and do need to be fixed to ensure that competition is even and that championships are decided on the field, not via the opinion of fickle pollsters and crippled computer rankings. Here’s what needs to be fixed:

  • Polls, they’re no longer meaningful or relevant. If they were at all accurate, the Top 10 teams wouldn’t have a loss two-thirds of the way through the season.
  • Inconsistency of leagues, different numbers of teams, some have championship games, some don’t, etc.
  • If you don’t win your league championship, you shouldn’t ever be considered for participation in meaningful post-season activities
  • Individual awards should be determined after the season is completed. They’re distracting and often wrong after post-season play is completed.
  • Television coverage needs to be about the game. Not some off-the-field distraction or the broadcast crew’s opinions. ESPN and ABC are the worst. But CBS, NBC, and Fox are close on their tails. For all the bad press, the best game coverage I’ve seen this year is on the Big Ten Network. Seriously.

There are some other attributes of other sports that should be implemented as well: scheduling should happen only the year before, the bottom x teams each year should be demoted to the next league down, and the top x teams from the lower league should be promoted. Currently, there are over 900 teams participating in college football in Divisions I-A (I know the new name, it’s stupid and I refuse to use it,) DI-AA, DII, DIII, and NAIA. The teams I’m most interested in are the 120 DI-A participants. Let’s face it, it wouldn’t be challenging to sub-divide those teams into a 64 team “upper tier” and a 64 team “lower tier.” In fact, such an attempt might look something like this for the “Upper Tier”:

Table of new alignment of first division 64 team college football teams as a thought experiment.

As you might expect, there would be some rules associated with the new alignment:

  • Each team will play 3 non-group games. At least one of those games must be intersectional with another team from the 64 team upper tier. Every other year, the intersectional game will be a home game. The other two games must be played against the DI lower tier teams and may both be home games. No more DI-AA patsies.
  • Each team will play a rotating home/away schedule with teams in its group to determine a group champion by the end of the season. No exceptions, no whining.
  • Each team will play one protected rivalry game per season rotating home/away. If the team’s primary rival is not in its group, this may be the intersectional game on the team’s schedule for the year and may be played later in the season if the schedule allows for it.
  • Each directional division (North, South, East, and West) will have a championship game where the two top teams from its groups play for the right to advance to post-season play. These could be “bowl” games played the first week in December.
  • The second week in December there are two Directional Championship games rotating division match-ups every year i.e. North/South and East/West one year, North/East and South/West the next year, and so on. These could also be “bowl” games.
  • On New Year’s Day the winners of the Directional Division games meet to determine the DI-A upper division champion in a bowl. This could rotate among the big four bowls as it does today.
  • Runner’s up in group play, who have amassed an overall winning record are eligible to play in bowls with no bearing on post-season standing. Play in these bowls are limited to one game i.e., no mini-touranments and play must be completed by January 1 and may not conflict with Directional Division, Championship play-in, or Championship games.
  • The bottom performer in each group is relegated to the DI-A lower tier for the next season. The top 8 performers in the lower tier are promoted for the following season into the most appropriate group in the DI-A upper tier.

I’ve heard alot of these ideas before, but I thought it was interesting to bring them together into a cohesive approach. All this being said, it’ll never happen. But wouldn’t that be cool if it did? The regular season would still matter. Rivalries would still rock. Schools and networks would still make money. And a champion would be decided on the field without all the whining and campaigning to determine that this team deserves it more than that team. It’s a meritocracy. And, it’s a dream. But it’s good to dream, no? How would you redesign major college football? Feel free to leave a comment.

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