[Ed. note -- Front Page'd - B]
Over the past couple of years, several people, including ESPN and SBNation have proposed the idea of using European Soccer as a model for how NCAA football should be run. I have always loved the idea. Think of it, a true meritocracy where whether you are Alabama, BC or God forbid, UMass, provided you are considered a Football Bowl Subdivision Team (we will have to change that classification with this new plan in place), you can win the National Championship.
So how would it all work?
There are currently 124 FBS football teams. We would divide them out into 3 classifications. We will take suggestions on the names for our various divisions. Division A for now, would be comprised of four 13 team divisions. These would be the 52 best teams from the previous year. As we need a starting point for this, we would the computer services (Sagarin, Massey, etc.). For the 2012 season, I have used an average of 18 of the national computer rankings from the 2011 season. This will be the first and only time we would need any sort of non performance system to seed our teams, from here on out, it's strictly about what happens on the field. That initial seeding though will clearly be the most contentious part of the whole process, no one wants to hear that they don't belong.
Division B would be the next 52 teams and Division C the final 20 teams.
Each of the Divisions would be built out on the S curve based on those computer ratings. For instance, in Division A: Conference 1 would be comprised of teams ranked 1, 8, 9, 16, 17, 24, 25, etc.
There would be no inter division or inter conference games in either the A or B divisions. Your schedule would be the other 11 teams in your conference. In Division C you would play each of other 9 teams in your conference once, plus three selected teams in the other conference. A weighted ranking system for each schedule based on seeding would be created to rank the non-conference opponents in Division C, to ensure the fairest balance of non conference opponents. Teams that moved up from the FCS or Division 2 or 3 level at any time, would then be added to Division C.
Teams would play 12 out of 13 weeks. For instance in 2012, those would be Sept 1, Sept 8, Sept 15, Sept 22, Sept 29, Oct 6, Oct. 13, Oct. 20, Oct. 27, Nov. 3, Nov 10, Nov 17, Nov. 24. Each team would receive a single bye. In Division C, there would be no byes as the there are an even number of teams in each conference.
The 15th (currently championship week, the week of December 1 this year) week would be relegation/promotion week. In this scenario, the team that finishes in last place in Division A and B conferences would automatically be relegated to the Division below them, while the teams that finished in first place in Division B and C conferences would automatically be promoted to the Division above them. The teams that finish 10 and 11 in Division A Conferences would then have a one game playoff with the loser of those games also being relegated. (Conference 1 #10 vs Conference 4 #11,Conference 1 #11 vs Conference 4 #10, etc). Likewise the teams that finish 2nd and 3rd in each Conference would play off for the right to be promoted to the next Division. In Division B, teams #12 and #13 would be involved in the relegation game.
In Division C, the team finishing first would qualify for automatic promotion, while second and third place teams would have promotion playoffs.
So 8 teams from A would move down to B. 4 teams from B would move down to C. 8 teams from B would move up to A and 4 teams from C would move up to B.
It also obviously gives great room for growth in Division C, where we could accept up to 32 additional teams to get to 13 teams in a Division. Somewhere before that max number we could demote and promote more than just 4 teams from B and C.
Week 16, would be Division Playoff week. Only the winners of each conference would make the playoffs (hey we just played a whole season to determine the best team..we know the answer why take more teams...wait, that's for another post!!). Division C Conference winners would have the day off.
Every game would get marquis billing! Division B semi-final #1 at 12 Noon, Division A semi-final #1 at 3:30 PM, Division A semi-final #2 at 7:00 PM, Division B semi-final #2 at 10:30 PM.
Current bowl sites or host cities could be used...but ahh..here's the catch...the bowls/host cities would bid on the rights to these games prior to the season in February of each year. Each entity would put in bids for each game and the highest bidder would win. If a bowl won multiple bids, it would choose which game it wished to host, in advance. Also no school would be forced to buy ANY tickets for the game. The bowls/playoff games, would either stand on their own merit, or not be in a position to bid the game.
In between the playoff games and the championship games, the bowls could continue to exist...but of course with some catches. Only teams with winning records would be eligible. This offers the ability for the semi final losers in Division B or even other teams below them in Division B to be bowl qualifiers.
Bowls would all submit sealed bids to host games. The losers from the Division semi finals would be eligible for bowl participation. The bowl bidding the most money, would then be given the right to host the "best bowl" which of course would pit the loser of the Division A semi final game (in a ranking system, they would be teams ranked #3 and #4). This game would be played closest to New Year's Day. The remainder of Division A would then be re-seeded based on their record through the year and then the second highest bidding bowl game would get teams ranked #5 and #6 and so on and so forth, until there were no more bowls that could afford to hold a game under our rule set, with the "worst" bowl being the lowest paying, lowest seeding bowl..in today's terms, something like the New Mexico Bowl.
Then on New Year's Day, the championship games would be held. Division C at 1 PM, Division B at 5 PM and Division A at 8:30 PM..for the true, undisputed National Championship.
Following the title games, all teams would be re-seeded based on either their final record (in the event they did not play in play off games or bowl games) or their adjusted ranking after the bowl games or playoffs. Note that the most variation that could occur after a bowl game would be one spot, since adjacent ranked teams would always play each other and for playoff teams, only a max of three spots (the one seed loses in the first round and their bowl game or the four seed wins both).
OK..so it's fantasy land..but what's really wrong with it? The biggest thing I see is that long standing rivalries will suffer, you won't always have Ohio State - Michigan or Alabama-Auburn play each year and even in years they do, they won't always play at the end of the year. Also, not everyone can win. Division A will be so strong that someone with good pedigree will have to lose and may well get relegated. What would relegation do to a school like Texas for instance?
Other than that..what's not to like? Home and road games would be perfectly balanced. Teams would never play more than 1 consecutive road or home game. You would see new teams on your schedule virtually every year. Small schools would host larger schools who otherwise they would never consider travelling to. Almost every game in every conference will really be meaningful, whether you are playing for bowl position, promotion position or to avoid relegation as opposed to now, where you can argue that almost no games other than those directly impacting the national championship are really meaningful. Maybe most importantly, it would be fair. Whether you are Boise State or Temple, you could build your program, fight your way to the top and win at the highest level. Otherwise what are these teams even doing playing in the same Division (FBS). Imagine the outcry if the 49ers for instance, couldn't compete for the Super Bowl because their Division was looked at being too weak.
So you've seen the plan. What do you think? Throw out some names for some Divisions and Conferences..we need 13 total!
Next, the Divisions for 2012 will be revealed. Unfortunately, I don't think our Eagles will start in a very good position!
And oh yeah...we are going to have a season (maybe more than one!)