The Ever-Changing World of College Sports

Posted: March 18, 2013 in College, Football

As I have tried to predict and project in the past, most of my recommendations seem to be counter to what is currently happening with the athletics landscape. Rather than be more mindful of the effects by ever-expanding conferences, conference commissioners and their committees seem to be more focused on expanding media networks over supporting a landscape that has more organization and even consideration for a balanced and fair system.

Don’t we want a college football playoff that is fair and balanced and provides opportunities to a number of teams? What about the type of organization (rather than division) that squashes concerns for fair representation, reduced stress on programs financially, reduce pressure on program traveling and maintaining of exciting match-ups and possibilities?

To try to explore this, I have attempted to take the current system and make the pieces fit together by breaking up a specific conference or two and merging the remaining players together. This is actually what currently feels like is happening to the Big East (and possibility relatively soon to the ACC). The problem here is that the conferences feel like they are too overwhelming still and it is not an even distribution of talent or regional area. While it would be nice to consider this from a basketball standpoint as well, I think it is more meaningful to recognize that the market is driven by football and benefited by basketball.

NCAA Football: Florida at Florida State alabama-national-champions 6917952

With this in mind, I will give a reorganization another shot…but, this time, start from scratch.

I first thought about regions. If you break down the country by time zones, the distribution is incredibly imbalanced (34-EST, 25-CST, 8-MDT, 15-PST). Still, this is a great starting point.

For consideration, I have decided to take only the “power” conferences, independents and MWC based on performance and recognition level. If you add up those teams, the final number is 82. An even split to allow for a playoff system would leave each “conference” with 20.5 teams. To get the final numbers to an even level (96 universities), an additional 14 schools would be invited to the final conferences. Also understanding that the team locations are a little imbalanced east versus west, the regions would be adjusted to take this imbalance into account.

Oregon v California BCS-Pic3-300x202 hi-res-56512719_crop_exact

So what would the final conference arrangement look like?

West: Considering that this is the area with the smallest population, this is also the area that may be questionable in terms of expanded talent. Still, some great matchups would still be more than possible. Anchored by the Arizona, California, Colorado, Oregon and Washington schools, it would resemble the current Pac-12 and MWC.

Air Force, Arizona, Arizona State, Boise State, BYU, California, Colorado, Colorado State, Fresno State, Hawaii, Nevada, Oregon, Oregon State, San Diego State, San Jose State, Stanford, UCLA, UNLV, USC, Utah, Utah State, Washington, Washington State, Wyoming

South: Taking pieces of the Pac-12 and the Big 10, the south will mostly be anchored by a combination of the Texas and Arizona schools. Pulling in a little of the SEC, the conference would have a slight challenge with expanse from east to west but would be somewhat managed by a divisional setup.

Alabama, Arkansas, Arkansas State, Auburn, Baylor, Houston, Kansas, Kansas State, Louisiana Tech, LSU, Mississippi State, Missouri, New Mexico, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Ole Miss, SMU, Southern Mississipi, Texas, Texas A&M, Texas Christian, Texas Tech, Tulsa

East: If there is any conference that is typically talked above all others in football, it is the SEC. That is the group that would anchor this conference. Added to the mix would be the core pieces of the ACC, with schools like Miami, Florida State and Clemson to add to the competitiveness.

Clemson, Duke, East Carolina, Florida, Florida State, Georgia, Georgia Tech, Kentucky, Louisville, Maryland, Miami, Middle Tennessee State, Navy, NC State, South Carolina, South Florida, Tennessee, UCF, UNC, Vanderbilt, Virginia, Virginia Tech, Wake Forest, West Virginia

North: Though not as successful in the past in championship games, a re-imagined combination of the Big East, ACC and B1G would make for quite the competitive conference. This is the area that has the greatest concentration of schools, so this would also be the conference that would include the most states in the smallest overall area.

Army, Ball State, Boston College, Cincinnati, Connecticut, Kent State, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Iowa State, Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, Notre Dame, Northern Illinois, Northwestern, Ohio State, Penn State, Pittsburgh, Purdue, Rutgers, Syracuse, Temple, Wisconsin

There would be a number of snubs from this list of schools, including Bowling Green, Memphis and Louisiana-Lafayette, the remaining schools have not been able to consistently compete against the stronger programs in Division I-A and cannot argue that they would deserve a spot over most of these other schools. They could make up the remaining conferences/divisions in Division I-A or a new conversation could come up about combining the remaining I-A schools with the I-AA schools.

This is obviously only the start of this format discussion. The next step would be to break down the conferences into divisions and sub-divisions, which would compete for the 8 spots in the playoff system. Look back for the next review of this possible new system.


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