Earlier, we discussed ways to make the Clemson-Florida State game have a little more pizzazz. Basically, there’s one way: Put them in different divisions so they can play in the conference title game, or maybe just do away with divisions altogether and let them battle it out for the title.
I argued that switching up divisions at random would be shortsighted and lead to regret down the road. Instead, my solution was to divide the ACC up geographically to cut travel costs and organize teams by north and south—a more widely accepted method of setting up a divisional system.
That conversation led me to explore reconfiguring the college football landscape at my leisure. I tried to keep things as simple as possible, because many of my ideas have absolutely no chance of being adopted by the NCAA (or the Power 5 schools when they inevitably split). There are two goals involved in this realignment: to make the regular season (particularly conference play) more efficient and consistent, and to create a better playoff through a more streamlined selection process. A few other notes:
–My nonsensical system has eight conferences with eight teams apiece. It includes the 64 teams currently tied to Power 5 leagues, minus Rutgers, since Notre Dame pretty much has to be a part of the system. Sorry, Rutgers.
–One factor trumped all others in my alignment: geography. The best rivalries are formed naturally due to proximity and competitive balance. That must continue.
–Each team would play all seven other teams in their divisions each year, plus three games against schools from a predetermined “sister division”. This could be either a permanent partnership or more of a revolving door, as is the case in the NFL. If the schools would like to play more than ten games, the extras could come from anywhere, from the FCS to another Power 5 opponent.
–The eight division champions would automatically go into the College Football Playoff, meaning each region of the country gets some type of representation. My preference would be for a 16-team field with each second-place team making the cut, or possibly an eight-team wild card field that could be selected by the committee.
Those were prerequisites as I split my teams into groups. Without further ado, here is how I would divide up the Power 5 world of college football:
Division 1—Miami, Florida, Florida State, Alabama, Auburn, Georgia, Georgia Tech, Tennessee
Division 2—Clemson, South Carolina, North Carolina, N.C. State, Wake Forest, Duke, Virginia, Virginia Tech
Division 3—Ole Miss, Mississippi State, LSU, Texas, Texas A&M, Baylor, TCU, Texas Tech
Division 4—Maryland, Penn State, Pittsburgh, Syracuse, Boston College, West Virginia, Kentucky, Louisville
Division 5—Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State, Indiana, Purdue, Notre Dame, Illinois, Northwestern
Division 6—Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, Iowa State, Nebraska, Missouri, Arkansas, Vanderbilt
Division 7—Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Kansas, Kansas State, Arizona, Arizona State, Utah, Colorado
Division 8—Stanford, California, USC, UCLA, Oregon, Oregon State, Washington, Washington State
As you can see, the groups are hyper-geographical, perhaps to the detriment of competitive balance. There are some insanely tough groups and some easier ones, which isn’t dissimilar to the system we have right now.
Clemson fans who fantasize about playing in the SEC probably won’t like my realignment since Division 2 is basically an ACC group plus South Carolina. However, the Tigers really didn’t fit anywhere else. I basically had no choice.
Football season is almost here, so these kinds of ridiculous pie-in-the-sky discussions are about to give way to actual conversations. I’m glad to make good use of these final moments.