Friday, December 09, 2011

Fixing College Football (yet again)

It's December, which means that the BCS has yet again screwed up.  Regardless of whether you think Oklahoma State or Alabama deserves to play LSU for the national title, the fact that there is even a question of who should be in the championship game is a failure of the system.  Instead of settling things on the field, the opportunity to play for the title is left to coaches who haven't seen 90 percent of teams ever play and Harris poll voters who somehow think Oklahoma State is the sixth best team in the country, not to mention the actual national champion.  Once again, I'm going to have to come to the rescue.

Unlike my previous proposals to solve college football, this iteration shies away from the Super Conference idea, and instead embraces more smaller conferences.  By more, I actually only mean one more, and by smaller, I mean ten teams per conference.  That would create a landscape of twelve conferences with ten members each, and thus twelve conferences champions.  Add in four at-large teams, and you have a delicious sixteen team field for a scrumptious college football playoff tourney.  Intrigued?

Here's how things would work.  First, the Southwest Conference would have to be re-created, giving us 12 conferences.  After it is stocked, the new conference membership would shake out as follows (with members ranked in projected order of finish using Football Outsiders S&P+ Rankings):

1. Florida State
2. Virginia Tech
3. Georgia Tech
4. North Carolina
5. Clemson
6. Virginia
7. Wake Forest
8. NC State
9. Duke
10. Maryland
To get to ten teams, the ACC drops two of the three additions they added from the Big East back in the day, Boston College and Miami (FL).  You may think that the ACC should keep the Canes over perennial doormats like Wake Forest and Duke, but I can't imagine an ACC without those two, so they stay.  

Big 12
1. Oklahoma State
2. Oklahoma
3. Nebraska
4. Texas
5. Missouri
6. Iowa
7. Kansas State
8. Texas Tech
9. Iowa State
10. Kansas
Texas A&M is so bitter towards Texas that they refuse to re-join the Big 12, and instead join Baylor in the new SWC.  The Bears' and the Aggies' departures open up two slots for the Big 12 to fill with poached Big Ten teams, Nebraska and Iowa.  Nebraska belongs in the Big 12, and Iowa doesn't really have  any natural rivals in the Big Ten like they do in the Big 12.  

Big Ten
1. Wisconsin
2. Notre Dame
3. Michigan State
4. Michigan 
5. Penn State
6. Illinois
7. Ohio State
8. Northwestern
9. Purdue
10. Minnesota
The Big Ten may lose Iowa and Nebraska, but finally adding Notre Dame makes up for those losses.  One team still needed to be cut, and Minnesota survives over Indiana on the strength of their new stadium and their rivalry with Wisconsin.

Big East
1. West Virginia
2. South Florida
3. Cincinnati
4. Miami (FL)
5. Pittsburgh
6. Rutgers
7. Louisville
8. Syracuse
9. Boston College
10. Connecticut
To get to ten members, the Big East welcomes back Miami and Boston College.  This conference still stinks.

1. Oregon
2. Stanford
3. USC
4. California
5. Arizona State
6. Washington
8. Arizona
9. Oregon State
10. Washington State
To go from the PAC-12 to the PAC-10, Utah and Colorado are booted after only one season.  Based on their performances this season, the Buffs' and Utes' departures are not huge losses for the conference.

1. LSU
2. Alabama
3. Georgia
4. South Carolina
5. Florida
6. Mississippi State
7. Tennessee
8. Vanderbilt
9. Auburn
10. Ole Miss
Arkansas leaves for the re-formed SWC, leaving the SEC to pick between Vanderbilt and Kentucky to cut.  Vandy survives based on their rivalry with Tennessee, leaving Kentucky hanging in limbo.

1. TCU
2. Texas A&M
3. Arkansas
4. Baylor
5. Houston
6. Tulsa
7. Southern Miss
8. SMU
9. Louisiana Tech
10. UTEP
This conference would be pretty awesome, and is the main inspiration behind me doing this.  I want this conference to exist.

1. Boise State
2. Nevada
3. BYU
4. Utah State
5. Utah
6. San Diego State
7. Air Force
8. Fresno State
9. Colorado
10. Colorado State
The Mountain West is the best of the West (that isn't the PAC-10).  Colorado becomes the first BCS school to slum it in a mid-major conference, but they won't be the last.

1. UCF
2. Ohio
3. East Carolina
4. Navy
5. Marshall
6. Kentucky
7. UAB
8. Tulane
9. Indiana
10. Memphis
Conference USA gets rocked by the formation of the SWC, but will add two ex-BCS schools in Kentucky and Indiana and a couple of other nice additions in Ohio and Navy.  Overall, though, they will be much weaker.  Not competing against the SEC and Big Ten should help Kentucky and Indiana finally find success,  though.

1. Arkansas State
2. Hawaii
3. Wyoming
4. North Texas
5. San Jose State
6. New Mexico State
7. Rice
8. Idaho
10. New Mexico
Ugh.  Just as in real life, the WAC is pretty wack.  Arkansas State and North Texas come over from the Sun Belt, and Rice migrates west after being denied by the SWC and shunned by the C-USA.

1. Toledo
2. Temple
3. Northern Illinois
4. Western Michigan
5. Bowling Green
6. Miami (OH)
7. Eastern Michigan
8. Ball State
9. Army
10. Central Michigan
With 13 original members, the MAC had to cut the most teams in the nation.  Ohio left for the C-USA, while Kent and Akron get the boot, much to my chagrin.  Army is added, so that means Buffalo is jettisoned along with the Zips and Flashes.

Sun Belt
1. FIU
2. Louisiana-Lafayette
3. Louisiana-Monroe
4. Kent State
5. Western Kentucky
6. Buffalo
7. Troy
8. Middle Tennessee
9. Florida Atlantic
10. Akron
This is the bottom of he barrel, as usual.  Adding Buffalo and Kent may actually improve the league, while Akron has nowhere to go but up.

The benefit of ten team leagues is that every member plays every other member, with 9 conference games.  This avoids convoluted tie-breaker situations like the Oklahoma-Texas-Texas Tech debacle from a few years ago, and leads to a true crowning of a conference champion without the need for a usually meaningless conference championship game.  Instead of championship weekend, we will instead be treated to the first round of the playoffs (in order to ensure no games are scheduled that weekend, the new max number of games will be 12).  First round games will be played at the higher seed's home field, with seeding (and at-large berths) determined by the BCS rankings (for our purposes, teams not in the BCS rankings are seeded by their S&P+ rankings).  Here's how this year's field would look, with at-large teams Alabama, Stanford, Arkansas, and Kansas State:

16. FIU at 1. LSU
15. Arkansas State at 2. Alabama
14. UCF at 3. Oklahoma State
13. Toledo at 4. Stanford
12. Florida State at 5. Oregon
11.West Virginia at 6. Arkansas
10. TCU at 7. Boise State
9. Wisconsin at 8. Kansas State

Losers of first round games would still be eligible to be selected for a bowl, so no one can complain that those kids don't get to have a "bowl experience."  The rest of the rounds will take place at the BCS sites, plus the Cotton Bowl and the Capital One (Citrus) Bowl.  All non-playoff teams will be able to play in the rest of the bowls, so everybody wins (i.e., fans get a playoff, moneygrubbing fat cats get their bowls).  The regular season means perhaps even more, since the best chance of getting a shot at the title is to win your conference.  I love this idea, and am truly depressed that it will never happen.  Oh well.  At least we will always have the Belk Bowl.  

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