I mentioned, a couple of days ago, that I thought the future of big time college football was going to be centered on 4 16-team leagues. Clearly I think the way forward for this league is to decouple from the NCAA, retain a financial (and historical) stake with their parent universities and more closely couple with the NFL as a de-facto feeder league. This would free the conferences from the rather silly (and arbitrary) rules that the NCAA likes to place on them, would bring the excesses of the recruiting process to the fore, and would normalize our relationship with the sport so that everyone is operating with their eyes wide open.
Since some of the smaller schools are likely to riot (or, more importantly, sue) I would suggest adding in a promotion/relegation system that allows the top performers in the NCAA to be promoted to the CFL while the bottom CFL performers are relegated down to the NCAA.
I realize, of course, that there would be much hand-wringing and gnashing of teeth over this. The NCAA would need to re-evaluate it's antiquated rules regarding "amateurism" and would have to admit schools who backed in (through relegation) despite the fact that this might mean they once received a stipend. Boo Hoo.
A second problem would be how to reward teams that moved up in the rankings. They certainly will have difficulty competing given that they will be (theoretically) using a lower caliber player, and just letting them take the players from the relegated teams probably won't help much (after all, those teams were relegated in the first place). However, since an annual expansion draft isn't practical you're going to have to deal with this if you're a team coming up. I'll expound more on this later.
First things first, the structure: As I stated earlier it's a 4 conference league. The four conferences would be as follows:
Atlantic Coast Conference: In order to make this work one current member had to be tossed. Since Wake Forest is really better suited to be a NCAA school, I left them out of the equation and moved in Baylor and Texas Christian. I also moved Georgia Tech to the SEC to make room for West Virginia The line-up would be as follows:
Boston College, Clemson, Duke, Florida State, West Virginia, Louisville, Miami, North Carolina, North Carolina State, Notre Dame, Pittsburgh, Syracuse, Virginia, Virginia Tech, Baylor, Texas Christian.
Southeast Conference: Hello Texas and Georgia Tech to bring the group to 16. This pretty much keeps or restores all of the regional rivalries, and provides a very good west division of 8 teams without watering down the East to too great of a degree. The line-up would be as follows:
Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, South Carolina, Tennessee, Alabama, Auburn, Arkansas, LSU, Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Texas aTm, Missouri, Texas, Georgia Tech, Vanderbilt.
PAC-16: This was my hardest conference to fill. In part because there are a dearth of teams out-west that could fit the bill. What I did here was keep all 12 teams intact, and added to from remains of the Big XII and the team that fit from the Group of Five conferences. The line-up would be as follows:
Arizona, Arizona State, California, UCLA, Colorado, Oregon, Oregon State, USC, Stanford, Utah, Washington, Washington State, Texas Tech, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Boise State.
BIG-16: The only struggle here was what to do with the Kansas schools. I thought, for a minute, about dropping them to the NCAA division but, in the end, decided to fill the roster with them since they're "Power 5" and I didn't want to remove any State schools from those ranks. This also made the decision to drop Northwestern for Iowa State easier. The line-up would be as follows:
Indiana, Maryland, Michigan, Michigan State, Penn State, Rutgers, Ohio State, Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, Iowa State, Purdue, Wisconsin, Kansas, Kansas State.
There were, as you might imagine, some real problems that arose here.
1. Is it right to "demote" Wake Forest and Northwestern ? Of all the private schools, I think they're the ones that makes the most sense. They would both have a decent shot at promotion out of the NCAA feeder conferences. (more on that later)
2. What about Cincinnati? They had a cup of coffee as a B(C)S team and were competitive, and I thought for a minute about putting them in the place of either Kansas, or Kansas State, in the revised Big 16. In the end though I left them in the NCAA division because I feel they're a better fit there. They, again, would have a good shot at promotion through the BIG 16's feeder conference.
3. Houston? I know I've never been a big fan of Houston making a Power 5 conference, and that doesn't change here. Besides, I want them for something else later.
The "next step" is to talk about the promotion/relegation system, how that would work and what it would mean for the end of the season as a whole. That's for the next post.
Until then, drink it in. I allow comments on this blog so feel free to opine.
One thing though: I won't respond to "It'll never work!" comments. OF COURSE it won't work. Because the NCAA is powerful and college football is a slave to tradition. This isn't about what will and won't "work". It's about imagining how things "could" be if we were to have the College Football League we wanted.
This is what I want to see. What say you?