Hypothetical: Running the NCAA like the English Premier League, 2009

Submitted by DoubleMs on December 15th, 2009 at 6:50 PM
I have always been curious how this would work: Dropping the bottom teams in FBS in favor of the top teams in FCS, very similar to the way that European soccer leagues are run.  In this, I am going to look at results from 2009 in a couple of different ways.

System One: Win-Based

Bottom 5 of the FBS:Eastern Michigan (0-12)
Western Kentucky (0-12)
Miami (Not That Miami) (1-11)
Washington State (1-11)
New Mexico (1-11)

Top 5 (6) of the FCS:
Montana (14-0) - In Championship Game
Villanova (13-1) - In Championship Game
Richmond (11-2) - Lost to App State
Southern Illinois (11-2) - Lost to W&M
William&Mary (11-3) - Lost to Villanova
Appalachian State (11-3) Lost to Montana

Win by Montana would drop out S. Illinois, win by Villanova would drop out Richmond.

System Two: Sagarin Rankings-Based

Bottom 5 Sagarin FBS (it is unlikely these will change):
Western Kentucky: 192
Eastern Michigan: 182
North Texas: 162
New Mexico State: 152
Miami (Not That Miami): 150

Top 5 Sagarin FCS (these might change next weekend):
Villanova: 35
William&Mary: 49
Montana: 61
Richmond: 63
Appalachian State: 75

So let's say we combined these two lists and dropped the bottom four out of the FBS, just for the sake of making promotion simple.  EMU, W. Kentucky, Miami (Not That Miami), and NM State all appear on both lists, and would get bumped down to FCS.  Montana, Villanova, William & Mary, and Appalachian State, the top four teams in the FCS playoff, would be brought up to replace.  The teams would take opened spots in the most local conferences, replacing the bumped teams on the conference schedules.

William & Mary and Villanova would trade conferences with EMU and Miami, because of location.  W. Kentucky would switch with App. State, again due to location, and Montana would switch with NM State.  

If the FCS teams managed to win the next year, they would make the cut and get to stay. If they didn't, they would just get bumped back down into their old conferences. The old FBS teams would be required to make the final four in the FCS in order to move up again.

I feel like this would liven up competition in the FCS as well as lighting a fire under the bottom-rung teams in the FBS.  Probably will never happen, but wouldn't it be an amazing change?



December 15th, 2009 at 8:02 PM ^

The promotion/relegation system may create excitement, but it's terrible from a financial standpoint. Teams that get relegated suffer a huge loss of revenue, leading to massive fire sales. Other teams will spend like mad to avoid relegation (and fall deeply in debt in the process). The three big European soccer leagues (England, Spain, Italy) are all full of debt-ridden teams.

In college sports, my guess is that you'd see waves of transfers from schools that get relegated. It's probably better to let schools be in whatever division they want.


December 15th, 2009 at 11:32 PM ^

rarely appear in the same sentence without some kind of nullifier between them. Either that or you get crap like the Detroit Lions or Kansas City Royals where the owner doesn't care about winning because all he wants is profit and he's getting that.

I think the hypothetical proposal is cool (I like the concept of relegation/promotion pretty much wherever you can put it), but yeah, financially I think it would work just like it does in the EPL and other leagues.

There would be some schools that could hang with the middle kids in I-A, maybe even the occasional school that would find the right boosters and develop a financial pipeline that would make their stay permanent (you'd have to be able to build a decent stadium or play in one, that's for sure), but you'd have a lot of back-and-forth schools, programs that are consistent I-AA winners but can't compete with the I-A teams.

I guess you'd have scheduling issues, too. You'd have to have some real flexibility ... certainly conference schedules wouldn't be too difficult (if, say, Indiana were demoted and Indiana State were promoted, you'd just put the Sycamores in place of IU on the Big Ten schedule and Indiana in place of ISU on the Missouri Valley schedule), but you'd have issues with the non-conference opponents. Maybe. It wouldn't be a big deal for the recently-promoted team, but again using my example, teams that had IU plus an existing I-AA team would suddenly have two I-AA games. (Or those opponents would just get a one- or two-season waiver.)

EA needs to implement I-AA football in NCAA 11 and make this an option.


December 15th, 2009 at 8:38 PM ^

Actually, my uncle volunteers as a police officer at games at W&M - their athletic programs, especially football, already get quite a bit of money from alumni, and are probably comparably financed if not better financed than a school like Miami (NTM). The stadium only seats 12,000, though. Remember, W&M beat Virginia at the start of this year.


December 15th, 2009 at 8:56 PM ^

If it makes sense for W&M to move up to I-A, then by all means they should. But it should be up to the school. If you had teams being promoted and relegated every year, what you'd most likely see is an increase in transfers as players decide to jump ship from the relegated programs.


December 15th, 2009 at 8:40 PM ^

I know you're writing in broad hypotheticals here, but is it really worth it to make a change like this? or even talk about it? Moving a total of eight teams would affect so few schools that it seems rather insignificant. Particularly when there are so many problems at the top (OMGBCS).


December 16th, 2009 at 12:37 AM ^

I have proposed this idea before as well and I think it is good (much more interesting than the 50+ posts we have seen on conference expansion speculation), I just think your scope is too narrow in that it focuses on only the very bottom of FBS. Why not do it between automatic qualifying BCS conferences and non AQs? The premier league could be 64 teams, 8 from each of the top conferences. The champions play in a short playoff starting in mid-december (all of the other bowls stay in place). If a team falls below a certain rolling average over a certain time span, that team drops out of the premier league and the same number of teams jump up from the second or bottom league. The top conferences would be paired with a second league conference so that there would be continuity in where the teams came from and went to. For example, pairing the MAC with the Big Ten would allow the teams to go back and forth between leagues so that it would always make sense about who won the league. In other words, Oregon wouldn't win the Big Ten, that way. What do you think about this admittedly rough idea?


December 15th, 2009 at 9:47 PM ^

I've actually thought a system like this would work for a super conference system based on region. This would allow teams like Boise State and Utah (etc.) to compete for a title and also is the best alternative to a playoff. It is also less likely than a playoff to happen.


December 16th, 2009 at 2:05 AM ^

would be to relegate one or two of the teams from the major conferences of one area to a mid-major conference (Big Ten/MAC, Pac-10/WAC). Under this tho Michigan would be relegated to the MAC based on this years Big Ten. I guess every week would be like the non-conference schedule.

The Bugle

December 16th, 2009 at 12:57 PM ^

Interesting idea. But scheduling of 100+ teams makes this impossible. It works in soccer because there are only 20 teams and they all play each other twice. With 100+ teams with all sorts of rivalries, conference games, etc...it just wouldn't be feasible.


December 16th, 2009 at 1:10 PM ^

i remember Brian mentioned a hypothetical conference-pairing scale once, much like the one that jam706 linked to, but i can't find the link. this year it would have meant that Michigan survived a relegation scare on a tiebreaker and the Chippewas would suddenly be a conference game next year(!)