1012 is in the news today as they look forward to possibly creating a BTN-like network.
It strikes me that they have a natural three-division alignment:
- Washington, Washington State, Oregon, Oregon State
- California, UCLA, USC, Stanford
- Arizona, Arizona State, Utah, Colorado
Surely there is some way to make this work. They already have a nine-game conference schedule in place, so it seems simple -- you play three games in each division each year and you don't play a championship game. There might even be some fair way to use the divisions in a tie-break formula, I'm not sure.
Note: Although I favor two divisions and a championship game for the Big Ten, the above could also work for us (although it would not be as geographically elegant), precisely because there would be no championship game. So it wouldn't really matter if one division is far weaker than the other two:
- Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State, Penn State
- Illinois, Northwestern, Indiana, Purdue
- Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, Nebraska
I fell asleep really early last night, so I woke up early and had an MGoRevelation.
I was reading about La Liga, the Spanish soccer league, and I found out that after every season, the bottom three teams are demoted to the 2nd tier, and the top three teams from the 2nd tier are promoted to the first. Also, the bottom four of the secondary league are demoted to the tertiary league, and the top four of that 3rd league are promoted to the secondary. Some of the teams in this 3rd league are farm teams of primary ones (like in baseball). If they would be in the same league as their primary team, they can't be promoted.
This seems crazy at first. Consider that some teams have gone from being essentially in the minor leagues to eventual champions of the major league. That's like the Toledo Mud Hens having the potential to win the World Series next year just by winning the championship of two levels in a row.
But consider it again for a moment. Wouldn't this make things a heck of a lot more interesting? There was a topic on the MGoBoard about trying to come up with a Semi-Pro Football League. What if this were the idea we are looking for?
It wouldn't even have to be as large a scale as the soccer leagues. Maybe the champion of the semi-pro league and the worst of the pro league would simply switch. How much easier would it be for the Lions to finally rebuild their team if they were demoted to a Semi-Pro league, where they could improve, dominate, and return to the NFL at full force? This suspends the logic that NFL players are pretty big-headed, and would likely not be very fond of going semi-pro based on rankings. But if this were the established norm, it would be accepted as law. Thinking long-term, the players should be grateful! They would be paid either the same or on a scale based on performance after a year (if they stay semi-pro, there's no helping them. improve or get left behind), and if they end up better for it, it seems like a blessing to me.
This would also open up the opportunity for players that want to continue football, but are not good enough for the NFL, and aren't crazy enough for the XFL/Arena Football track.
Now, this obviously couldn't be used in college level competition, as the divisions are decided separately, there are conferences to maintain, and the number of teams is greater. But it could be instituted for many pro sports, like Football, Baseball, even Hockey. The teams that constantly drag in the mud (Lions, Edmonton Oilers, NY Islanders, etc.) for years, in a sort of anti-dynasty, could be "relegated" (not demoted, sounds too harsh) to a secondary (not semi-pro, again sounds too harsh) league, where they could improve and become champions, and come back up to the primary league again.
It should even be more inviting if more teams are moved, since the team wouldn't even need to be champions to move back up. Placing 2nd or 3rd in the secondary league should be cake if the teams are actually up to snuff to playing in the primary league, right? If they can't accomplish that, they don't belong, and a team that moved up gets the right to stay.
It would give casual fans who have no real allegiance to a team something to root for, and hometown teams would grow larger. What if they established a lower level football team in Grand Rapids (my hometown), and that team wasn't a farm team of any other. They win the secondary league, and suddenly start doing well against actual NFL teams the next year? I would SO be pulling for them to make the playoffs. That would be ridicu-awesome.
I know the automated response is "Won't work." And I know it wouldn't EVER happen. But man, isn't it a good idea? I don't see that many flaws with it that aren't directly related to pride or money. From an administrative standpoint, it seems like a great idea. I guess I'm comforted in knowing that the system actually does exist already, in the soccer leagues, even if it wouldn't ever be adopted here.
But in honesty, I think it has a better chance than "Pro College Football League," as ambitious and creative as that was.