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Playoffs, Realignment, and Relegation: A Revamp of the BCS System

UPDATE: Thanks for the response everyone.  After reading some of the comments, I made a mistake in not pushing Utah up to the Championship Division, they're in the Big 12 now, replacing Baylor.

Look, it's the dregs of college football season.  You know it, I know it, and you're fearing that your fascination over recruiting might be culminating in an attraction to the Jonas Brothers.  Easy there, we've felt these waves of boredom, and there's one tested way to get rid of all of those feelings:  railing against the BCS.  Nearly every talking head has screamed over the need for an eight team playoff, but I say, "Why stop there?"  Many aspects to the system are currently unfair - how would the ten other Big Ten teams feel if MSU won the league without playing Ohio State?  It's not just the postseason process that needs fixing.

After the jump, I lay out our four major changes to Division 1-A (it'll be a cold day in Rio before I call them Bowl Championship teams) that would make the game a dollop more fair and a good deal more interesting.  These changes are league realignment, relegation, an eight-team playoff, and a fundamental change in conference scheduling.


All 1-A teams will be assigned to one of twelve leagues each consisting of ten teams. Two divisions - Championship and Subchampionship - will help determine who goes to the playoffs.  I'll expand on that distinction later in the playoff section, but in short, only Championship division teams are eligible for the playoffs.  Note - to make everything even, I'm bumping Appalachian State up to 1-A, because 34-32 NEVER FORGET. Yes Michigan fans, you can add that to your "Sparty has an inferiority complex" file cabinet.


Big Ten Big 12 ACC SEC Big East Pac 10
Illinois Utah Boston College Alabama Cincinnati Arizona
Iowa Colorado Clemson Arkansas Connecticut Arizona State
Michigan Kansas Florida State Auburn Kentucky Boise State
Michigan State Kansas State Georgia Tech Florida Louisville California
Minnesota Missouri Maryland Georgia Pittsburgh Oregon
Northwestern Nebraska Miami LSU Penn State Oregon State
Notre Dame Oklahoma North Carolina Ole Miss Rutgers Stanford
Ohio State Oklahoma State NC State South Carolina South Florida Washington State
Purdue Texas Virginia Tech Tennessee Virginia UCLA
Wisconsin Texas Tech Wake Forest Vanderbilt West Virginia USC



MAC Mountain West Conference USA Sun Belt Patriot/J Leman WAC
Akron Air Force Duke Arkansas State Appalachian State Fresno State
Ball State BYU East Carolina Florida Atlantic Army Hawaii
Bowling Green Colorado State Houston Florida International E. Michigan Idaho
Buffalo Iowa State Marshall Louisiana-Lafayette Miami of Ohio Louisiana Tech
Cent. Michigan New Mexico Memphis Louisiana-Monroe Navy Nevada
Indiana Texas A&M Rice Middle Tennessee State SMU New Mexico State
N. Illinois TCU Southern Miss Mississippi State Syracuse San Diego State
Ohio UNLV Tulsa North Texas Toledo San Jose State
Temple Baylor UCF Troy Tulane Utah State
W. Michigan Wyoming UTEP UAB Western Kentucky Washington


More on the reasoning quickly, but first, a quick word about:


We all know that as of recently, Duke and Washington have had no business playing football in BCS leagues.  That's why I'm relegating each last place team in each Championship division league to a Subchampionship league.  Likewise, the top team in each Subchampionship division league gets promoted to a Championship division league.  This gets the chaff out of the top leagues, while allowing teams like Boise State and Utah a chance to prove themselves.  This would have added a morbid curiosity to the Washington-Washington State game this year, which would have been a promotion over simply morbid. 


There were some tough decisions here.  For relegation purposes, I went with what team was last in their league/division last year; however, I did move Kentucky and Virginia to the Big East because I did not feel their seasons deserved relegation, and it makes for a decent geographic fit. You'll also see I created another league, the Patriot/J Leman league, to hold the extras from lower division leagues.  As for other moves:

  • Notre Dame in the Big Ten, Penn State to the Big East.  It fits geogrpahically, and if Notre Dame wants to still be independent, they can be independent of the playoffs as well.
  • I just couldn't keep Washington in the Pac 10 after the 0-12 season. Boise State rightfully takes their place.
  • The Patriot/J Leman conferences I moved most of the weaker teams into, because I feel like J would want Navy in the top tier, and what's alright with J is alright with me.

One final, important note:  each promoted team from one league would go to a specific league, and each relegated team would go the same league.  Here are the alignments:

  • Big Ten: MAC
  • Big East: Patriot/J Leman
  • Big 12: Mountain West
  • Pac 10: WAC
  • ACC; Conference USA
  • SEC: Sun Belt

For the most part, all these leagues are decent to good fits geographically, depending on which team is promoted in a given year.


Each winner of a Championship Division league would earn an automatic berth to the playoffs.  From there, a selection committee (suggest members in the comments, I'm open to suggestion seeing as MSU has not sniffed a national title in about 40 years) would choose two of the second-place teams in the championship tier to also go to the playoffs.  The selection committee would seed the teams as well.  Not a perfect system, but people complain much less when basketball does it this way.  I also think having several computer rankings factor in the decision seems arcane, impenetrable, and awkward, much like every dance I went to in high school. All games would be at neutral locations, with the first round around December 18th, the semi-finals around Christmas, and the finals on New Year's Day.  Added bonus - put the semi-finals and finals at one site for a whole week of fun and drankin'.


Each league has ten teams, thus nine league games each year.  Four of these games will be home, another four away, and one at a neutral site.  In the Big Ten, every team could schedule the neutral game in Chicago - no advantage except for Northwestern, and let's face it, any game in history at Ryan Field has been neutral.  This eliminates the edge when a team has five home games compared to another team's four. 

As for nonconference games, schedule whoever you want.  This will promote better nonconference matchups as teams might want to improve their stock with the selection committee in case they finish second. And when I say anyone, I truly mean anyone from divisions 1-3. This will mean Penn State will achieve their dream of scheduling three schools for the deaf during nonconference.


All of these changes would help promote fairness in college football, but let's face it:  There's no way that any of these are going through because of finances, the inertia inherent in any system, and the fear of potentially losing a fan (and donor) base due to relegation.  In my world though, that would be the way things were, and Michigan State would have most likely been relegated a few years ago to the MAC. 

Sometimes it's better when dreams don't come true.