Going back to my previous post, the conference realignment has caused a lot of disturbance in the college sports landscape. I talked about a complete scrapping of the current system and breaking it down into the four regional conferences. This would allow for a better football playoff system and even potentially readjust March Madness to fit the new format (though it would not be necessary). So how does that play out…
With four conferences and two divisions per conference, each division could host a team for the playoff. The current BCS could still be used to help identify the ranking between the divisional champions for seeding purposes. Each division would host a championship (like the current conference championships), allowing for each of the teams to be selected without the controversy of questioning the lack of appreciation for teams with perfect records that would arguably deserve more of a consideration for higher bowls games. The evened out talent also helps that cause. If the NCAA chose to, they could also simply do conference championships and a 4-team playoff system.
Time to break down the conferences into their divisions…
West: The most logical breakdown of this conference would allow for states bordering the water. The Pacific would boast some of the great Pac-12 teams, like Oregon, USC and Stanford. With the Mountain division, the Arizona schools and Boise State would be able to help create some great possible match-ups, even with greater presence of the MWC.
- Pacific: California, Fresno State, Hawaii, Oregon, Oregon State, San Diego State, San Joe State, Stanford, UCLA, USC, Washington, Washington State
- Mountain: Arizona, Arizona State, Air Force, Boise State, BYU, Colorado, Colorado State, Nevada, UNLV, Utah, Utah State, Wyoming
South: With a Central division anchored by the states of Oklahoma, Kansas and Arkansas and a Gulf division dominated by Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama, this conference has some truly great competition both within the division and the greater conference. The teams a essentially divided between a northern and southern group.
- Central: Arkansas, Arkansas State, Kansas, Kansas State, Missouri, New Mexico, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas Christian, Texas Tech, Tulsa
- Gulf: Alabama, Auburn, Baylor, Houston, Louisiana Tech, LSU, Mississippi State, Ole Miss, SMU, Southern Miss, Texas, Texas A&M
East: The combination of ACC and SEC schools makes this a very entertaining conference, and also finally unites Florida and Florida State in the same division. The east coast has a strong combination of teams that may have a little more strength in the southern schools than the north, but still boasts some possible strong match-ups with Florida, Louisville, Clemson, South Carolina, Virginia Tech and Florida State in the mix.
- Mid-Atlantic: Duke, East Carolina, Kentucky, Louisville, Maryland, Navy, NC State, UNC, Virginia, Virginia Tech, West Virginia
- Coastal: Clemson, Florida, Florida State, Georgia, Georgia Tech, Miami, Middle Tennessee State, South Carolina, South Florida, Tennessee, UCF, Vanderbilt
North: Anchored by the B1G, the dividing line for the divisions is the coastal schools plus Ohio and west of the Great Lakes. Both divisions boast some great talent: Ohio State & Penn State in the New England area and the Michigan schools, Indiana schools and Wisconsin in the Great Lakes division.
- New England: Army, Ball State, Boston College, Cincinnati, Connecticut, Kent State, Ohio State, Penn State, Pittsburgh, Rutgers, Syracuse, Temple
- Great Lakes: Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Iowa State, Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, Northwestern, Notre Dame, Northern Illinois, Purdue, Wisconsin
Even with these divisions (which do divide some of the more classic talents), there would still be opportunities for the teams to meet outside of their divisions. Ohio State-Michigan is still a yearly match-up and could be an additional meeting in the bowl season. Texas-Oklahoma could also meet up between the regular season and postseason. Army, Navy and Air Force could use their non-conference schedules to travel for yearly competition. Arizona might be a little left out with the Pac-12 mostly in the Pacific region but they get match-ups against the best of the MWC (Boise State, BYU, Colorado State and Utah State).
I focused on trying to keep the divisions divided by state (with the exception of Ball State joining the New England division), but there could be a little more separation of teams within states that are not traditional match-ups (like Florida State versus UCF or Tulsa versus Texas Tech).
Using this conference and divisional setup, the most recent year would have had a playoff system at the end of the regular season that ended up like this…
- #1 v. #8: Notre Dame (BCS #1) v. Kent State (BCS #25)
- #2 v. #7: Alabama (BCS #2) v. Louisville (BCS #21)
- #3 v. #6: Florida (BCS #3) v. Boise State (BCS #19)
- #4 v. #5: Oregon (BCS #4) v. Kansas State (BCS #5)
Keep in mind that Ohio State was on penalty (final BCS #3) and Penn State will also be able to rebuild after another few years. But here would be the re-imagined playoffs based off the actual final standings from this past season…
- #1 v. #8: Alabama (BCS #1) v. Utah State (BCS #16)
- #2 v. #7: Oregon (BCS #2) v. Louisville (BCS #13)
- #3 v. #6: Ohio State (BCS #3) v. Kansas State (BCS #12)
- #4 v. #5: Notre Dame (BCS #4) v. Georgia (BCS #5)
All of these possibilities are also not taking into account that the ranking would be different with a changed conference and divisional setup that would have also changed the schedules. I would be happy to take any thoughts about this new setup if anyone would like to comment.