Pruning time

There are currently 119 Division I-A college football teams.

The division has persistently grown in recent years until the definition of "major" college football has been severely diluted. Realistically, only a fraction of these teams has any chance of competing for major bowls or a national championship. The NCAA re-evaluates D-I programs occasionally to see that they maintain minimum attendance and facilities standards. Even with these audits, tiny programs hang on to their status, despite marginal football performance and home attendance figures that are smaller than my family reunion.

It is time to purge college football of these hangers-on. A streamlined Division I, limited to the true powers, will lead to better match-ups and, perhaps, a higher likelihood that I can watch good football games on Saturdays.

What criteria should be used to decide who stays and who goes? In keeping with the history and constitution of the NCAA, I believe the criteria should be both arbitrary and capricious in their application. With that in mind, let's begin.

1. If the name of your school is a common noun, you don't belong in Division I.

Good-bye Rice, Buffalo, Temple, Duke, Bowling Green, Wake Forest, Army, Navy and Air Force. (See how easy this is?)

2. If the school name includes the word "State" yet the rest of the name is not actually a state, you mislead America's youth by promoting geographic ignorance, and you do not belong in Division I. "States" that aren't actually states include: San Diego State, Boise State, Ball State, San Jose State, and Fresno State. Memphis State officially changed its name to the University of Memphis a few years ago thus avoiding (for now) the knife. Kent State valiantly tried to remain in the club by changing its name to "Kent" only to be caught by:

3. If your school has a dude's name, you don't belong in Division I. This applies to schools apparently named after stars of 1950's gladiator movies (Troy and Kent). It also applies to schools named after famous polygamists (Brigham Young) and my 8th grade shop teacher (Marshall).

4. If your school has a direction or indication of region in the name, you don't belong in Division I. (Exception granted to those universities in states with a directional name like North Carolina.) The directional clause eliminates Northwestern (Talk about geographical confusion!); North Texas; Southern Mississippi; East Carolina; Eastern, Western, and Central Michigan; Northern Illinois, South Florida, Central Florida, and Middle Tennessee State. This clause also eliminates the University of Southern California. (Please remember that we must be both arbitrary and capricious. Sorry, Trojans.).

5. If your school's name requires additional address information, then you are not Division I A material. Attempting to escape clause 4, Southwest Louisiana, Northwest Louisiana and their brothers all changed their names in recent years. We can't stand by and allow this. If the school name requires you to explain the city in which the branch is located, well, you're just not big time football. This is also known as the hyphen clause. Farewell to Louisiana-Monroe, Louisiana-Lafayette, Texas-El Paso, Nevada-Las Vegas, Alabama-Birmingham and, sadly, the University of California at Los Angeles (The Trojans made me do it.)

6. If your school is frequently confused with another, more famous, school, making it hard for me to correctly read the score ticker at the bottom of my TV screen, you do not belong in Division I. Good-bye Ohio University and Miami (of Ohio).

7. If no one can tell you apart, (This means you, Florida Atlantic and Florida International.) you don't belong in DI football.

8. If your school is named after a city, state, or town that my eight year old can't quickly find on an unlabeled map, then you just don't belong in Division I. Laboratory testing has eliminated Idaho, Utah, Utah State, Nevada, Connecticut, Tulsa, Akron, Syracuse, Toledo, Cincinnati, Wyoming, Clemson, and Auburn.

Now, that wasn't so hard was it? With these proposed purges, college football's elite division will be reduced to a much more manageable group of 65 teams. However, since 65 is a unwieldy number for purposes of conference and playoff structure, we invoke rule number nine......

9. What are Rutgers? If your school is singular, but it sounds plural. Well, you just really don't belong in Division I.

Now, with a new slate of 64 teams in Division I, one other change will occur. The Tennessee Volunteers scoring offense will now rank 63rd in the nation!

We're much better than we thought!

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