Although we hesitate to enter the fray in advocating change, our stance is not “if four is good, eight will be twice as good.” In truth, we would prefer to go back…back before the CFP, back before the BCS, back to when the bowl games were played and then polls selected a national champion. And if one poll selected one team and another poll another, so beat it.
What we liked about the old way is that it involved only one game. If Alabama won the Southeastern Conference championship and was undefeated, the Crimson Tide was going to the Sugar Bowl with a chance to win the national championship, and Bama fans would be able see it in person.
We are now headed towards an NFL Super Bowl-type championship game, where the audience is made up of guests of sponsors, the very rich, and a handful of fans.
A complete revamping of the Power Conferences as part of the move to an eight-team playoff won’t solve that problem, but it may make for a better regular season. Another bonus for fans is that the first round of the eight-team playoff would be played at the stadium of the higher seeded team.
Our proposal is to have six power conferences, all with 10 teams. All play 11 games – 9 against the others in their conference for a true round robin champion (Big 12, You Are Welcome!). This would make these true leagues. In a two-year period, every player would play two games against every conference opponent and would play in every conference opponent stadium.
A 10th game would be against another Power 6 team. Teams like Florida and Florida State would have that game already set. For teams like Alabama and Texas, they could – what a novel idea – play each other with a home-and-home schedule.
Conference championship games are going away, but neutral site kickoff-type games would be possible.
The 11th game could be a game of choice, the type games that Alabama currently selects for about three weekends a year. That lone cupcake could be for homecoming. Or a team might decide to play an additional Power 6 foe. Or it could be a former conference opponent who didn’t make the cut for the new 10-team Power 6 leagues.
Cutting right to the point, the eight team playoff would include the six champions of these power conferences plus two at-large teams.
We have to name those conferences. Obviously, Southeastern, Atlantic Coast, Pac-10, and Big Ten. Then we’ll call one Southwest, since it’s not being used. But (Sorry!) the Big 12 can’t be the Big Ten, or the Big Eight with 10 teams, even if the 10-team league currently is known as the Big 12. As long as we’re cleaning up the whole of college football, we’re going to get rid of names that are contrary to fact. So it will be some new name that reflects, perhaps, Geography.
And there will be no one-team conference. Either in or out, current Independents. (Sorry, Notre Dame.)
Now comes the hard part. Who makes it and who goes where?
The problem is that the current Power 5 is now going to become the Power 6, but there are going to be five fewer teams in this new alignment. Obviously, five teams that think they are powerful are going to be in the Sun Belt or somewhere like that. And maybe more if it’s determined that some current non-Power Five are among the 60 best teams.
Some will point out that a athletics conference is more than football, and no one is disagreeing. But we’re going to pretend that football is king at most of the schools being considered for the new Power Six and the eight-team College Football Playoff and just see if Kentucky (which is on the cut line anyway) wants to drop out of consideration for its share of the billions. We suspect everyone will find a way to work around the problem.
We’re going to look at the top 70 teams traditionally as determined by College Football Data Warehouse, starting with No. 1 Alabama, No. 2 Notre Dame, No. 3 USC, No. 4 Oklahoma, etc., and going through No. 70 Virginia. And then we’ll look at a few more who are not among those – 71. North Carolina State , 72. Arizona, 73. Arizona State, 75. Utah, 79. Wake Forest, 83. BYU, 89. Boise State, 97. Auburn. just kidding AU fans. You’re actually in the top 70. You will be, however, at the mercy of the Red Elephant Club, which will administer the new eight-team playoff.
Some of those in the top 70 traditionally are no longer relevant for this exercise. Go ahead and begin by chopping the likes of 32. Princeton, 36. Yale, 45. Harvard, 65. Cornell, and 68. Dartmouth.
We’re not sure where we heard this, but it seems like maybe it was soccer, or some other foreign sport, where a team could be dropped from a top conference for poor play and replaced by a team that earns its way back by being excellent in a minor league. Just for fun, we’ll include that feature.
For instance, if Vanderbilt was dropped from the SEC, the Commodores might be able to get back in if Vandy had a big season in Conference USA and, say, Mississippi State went 1-10. This would have two be determined over a two-season cycle.
Here’s how the conferences might look:
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