What would college football look like with superconferences - and is it really that bad?
-by Braden Gall (@AthlonBraden on twitter)
The end of the world is not upon us. The sky isn’t falling.
And the gates of hell are not opening to swallow conference commissioners, university presidents or TV executives anytime soon.
And the most dreaded 15-letter word in the college football vernacular isn’t going to ruin the greatest sport on the planet either. Writers, fans and talking heads everywhere are generating just as much hysteria about conference expansion as the puppet masters themselves.
To quote a national NCAA writer who I have worked with and respect greatly, “The game will lose all semblance of its unique and special place in the sports world. It will be just another sport fueled by another mega television network; another sport rolled into a homogenized, hyperbolized ball of bland.”
Hyperbolized? An ironic choice of words, I would say.
How will college football lose all semblance of its unique and special place? How is college football not already fueled by mega TV contracts? How are $120 million athletic departments not already dichotomizing college football into two distinct factions? How will simply placing a tangible dividing line between those two factions change anything about the sport we know and love?
There will still be bowl games aplenty. Regional rivalries will not evaporate. Players will always maintain amateur status and will still be "required" to go to class. Pep bands, cheerleaders and Saturday morning games of corn hole aren’t going anywhere. Auburn and Alabama aren’t going to hate each other any less if Texas Tech joins the Pac-12 or if Notre Dame joins the Big Ten.
At the end of the day, there will be more money to go around, the fans get to see the playoff they have been craving for decades and maybe – just maybe – a governing body could be created that would actually have some semblance of control over its participating programs.
And how will eliminating the NCAA from the college football championship cause the football world to implode upon itself?
The NCAA reminds us all the time that there are “over 400,000 student athletes going pro in something other than sports” or that the money is used to “fund 88 different championships and support 1,055 member colleges and universities.”
What they conveniently fail to mention is that the college football BCS Championship isn’t one of those 88 sanctioned titles. The BCS is a seperate entity that makes trucksloads of cash and apparently spends it on political contributions and strip clubs (looking at you John). And who honestly cares if the NCAA has slightly fewer than 1,000 member institutes instead of 1,055?
LSU fans lose sleep over the play of Jarrett Lee, not the acronym attached to their national title.
The fans are what matter, and the fans are the ones who need to sit back, relax and dream about the positives this conference upheaval could have on college football (as if anyone has a choice anyway).
So just in case you are having trouble slowing your breathing, here is what it might look like in a perfectly merged world of profit and play:
-- Four 16-team conferences - the SEC, the B1G Ten, the Pac-16 and the East Coast Conference - each with two eight-team divisions will break from the NCAA.
-- Each division offers an automatic bid into a 12-team NFL-style playoff with four teams earning "byes."
-- A selection committee of experts whose sole purpose in life is to evaluate college football teams will be formed with the intent on selecting the aforementioned "byes" (should they not be obvious). This committee will also seed the 12 teams, with each divisional winner guaranteed at least one home playoff game. This committee will also select four "wild card" or "at-large" bids who will play on the road in the first round.
-- This committee will completely eliminate any need for any human or computer poll...ever...again.
-- There will be no more conference championship games - which are blatant money grabs to begin with - and every playoff game will be played in home stadiums. Oregon and Auburn waited 37 days to play for the 2010 title, so please spare me the "kids need to study" routine.
-- The National Championship game will be played at a pre-determined neutral site.
-- Unfortunately, in order to land that Texas-Alabama national semifinal or Ohio State-Florida quarterfinal, my plan for college football has to have some victims too. Baylor, Kansas State, Iowa State, Boise State and BYU will all find themselves on the outside looking in.
It has the equality and raw excitement of the NFL postseason mixed with the regional passion of college football. Look at the future match-ups this system would potentially offer and tell me your regional amatuer pigskin blood is boiling with anticipation for a Florida State-Oklahoma quarterfinal or an Oregon-Michigan first round contest? It makes the Beef 'O' Brady's St. Petersburg Bowl - which would still be played by the way - look like Pop Warner Wednesdays in the burbs.
The world is in a constant state of progression. What makes college football any different?
Other Expansion Content:
What the birth of the Big 12 tells us about future expansion?
Baylor Threatens to Control Texas A&M