Proposal for Division 1 FBS (1-A) College Football - Scheduling, Champions, and Playoffs

Submitted by MaizeJacket on July 27th, 2015 at 7:06 PM

 

It's July, which means most of us are starving for college football, but our insatiable desire for it has yet to be satisfied.  I had been playing around a lot on NCAA Football 14 (hi, Denard), which in dynasty mode offers many options in the way of conference rules and realignment.  This got me thinking about a method to solve a lot of the college football discrepancies between conferences and, at this point, teams in the same conference, but in separate and huge divisions.

I over-eagerly posted a crude version of this under Seth's Big Ten post, but another MGoEmployee suggested I post a clearer, more organized version as a diary.  So, here goes.

 

We'll start with the conference rules.  All ten conferences will have at least 12 teams and thus two divisions and a conference championship game.  This eliminates the argument about who does and doesn't have a conference championship game.  I also placed Notre Dame in a conference so they are on the same field with everyone else, as well.  The only two teams not in a conference are Army and Navy.  By their independence they abstain from playoff participation.  If theoretically they would like to participate in the playoff tourmanent, they would need to join a conference (American, C-USA, something).

* CONFERENCE RULES *

Conference Rules
 

Sched.

Type

Non-Conf. Schedule (Hawai'i Exemption Applies) Nov. Night Games Weekday Games Start Conf. Games # of Conf. Games Champ. Game Location
ACC Protected Rivals

1 FCS

1 Challenge

Pick Any 2

Yes Thursday Week 4 8 Charlotte, NC
American No Protected Rivals

1 FCS

1 Challenge

Pick Any 2

Yes Thursday Week 4 8 Best Conference Record Hosts

BIG 16; Heartland

Protected Rivals

1 FCS

Pick Any 2

Yes None Week 4 9 Dallas, TX
Big Ten No Protected Rivals

1 FCS

1 Challenge

Pick Any 2

Yes None Week 4 8 Indianapolis,IN
C-USA No Protected Rivals

1 FCS

1 Challenge

Pick Any 2

Yes Thursday Week 4 8 Best Conference Record Hosts
MAC No Protected Rivals

1 FCS

1 Challenge

Pick Any 2

Yes Thursday Week 4 8 Detroit, MI
MWC No Protected Rivals

1 FCS

1 Challenge

Pick Any 2

Yes None Week 4 8 Best Conference Record Hosts
Pac-12 No Protected Rivals

1 FCS

1 Challenge

Pick Any 2

Yes None Week 4 8 Best Conference Record Hosts
SEC Protected Rivals

1 FCS

1 Challenge

Pick Any 2

Yes None Week 4 8 Atlanta, GA
Sun Belt No Protected Rivals

1 FCS

Pick Any 2

Yes Thursday Week 4 9 Best Conference Record Hosts

 

Ok, so that is all sorted out.  Now, let's get to actually who is in these conferences.

Conferences with protected rivals will show those protected rivals on the same row.  Conferences without protected rivals will simply list the members in alphabetical order.

* CONFERENCES, DIVISIONS, AND TEAMS *

ACC

(Atlantic)

ACC

(Coastal)

Boston College

VA Tech
Clemson

GA Tech

Florida St Miami
Maryland Virginia
NC State North Carolina
Wake Forest Duke

 

Heartland 16

(Big Eight)

Heartland 16

(Southwest)

Colorado SMU
Iowa St TX Tech
Kansas Rice
Kansas St Houston
Missouri Baylor
Nebraska Texas A&M
Oklahoma Texas
OK State TCU

 

American.

(West)

American.

(East)

Cincinnati C Florida
E Carolina Connecticut
Louisville Rutgers
Marshall S Florida
Pittsburgh Syracuse
W Virginia Temple

 

Big Ten

(West)

Big Ten

(East)

Illinois Indiana
Iowa Michigan
Minnesota Michigan State
Northwestern Notre Dame
Penn State Ohio State
Wisconsin Purdue

 

Conference USA

(West)

Conference USA

(East)

LA Tech Florida Atl
Southern Miss Florida Int'l
Tulane Memphis
Tulsa Old Dominion
UTEP UAB
UTSA UMass

 

MidAmerican

(West)

MidAmerican

(East)

Akron Ball State
Bowling Green C Michigan
Buffalo E Michigan
Kent State N Illinois
Miami U Toledo
Ohio W Michigan

 

MountainWest

(Mountain)

MountainWest

(West)

Air Force Fresno St
Boise St Hawai'i
Colorado St Nevada
New Mexico San Diego St
Utah St San Jose St
Wyoming UNLV

 

Pac-12

(North)

Pac-12

(South)

BYU Arizona
Oregon Arizona St
Oregon St California
Utah Stanford
Washington Southern Cal
Washington St UCLA

 

SEC

(West)

SEC

(East)

Alabama Tennessee
Arkansas S Carolina
Auburn Georgia
LSU Florida
Ole Miss Kentucky
Mississippi St Vanderbilt

 

Sun Belt

(West)

Sun Belt

(East)

Arkansas St Appalachian St
Idaho Georgia St
New Mexico St Georgia Southern
N Texas Middle Tennessee State
Texas St S Alabama
UL-Lafayette Troy
UL-Monroe W Kentucky

 

This is, in my mind, a great way to get some of those old rivalries back, while keeping the conferences' integrity when it comes to geography generally sound.

Now, let's get back to the games.

 

Before we address the method of deciding a national champion, I had an idea that I thought would be pretty fun.  However, that idea and the playoff format works off of conference seeding.  Conferences would be seeded every season based upon various metrics (I'm not going to go into methods for seeing conferences, but I'll leave it open-ended.  For example, you could use a combination of polls, records, strength of schedule, etc.)  For this exercise, I arbitratily chose seedings for each of the 10 conferences, but under this setup it would be fluid and change each season based upon the previous season's results.  The seedings I chose are below:

Seed Conference
1 SEC
2 Big Ten
3 Pac-12
4 Heartland16
5 ACC
6 American
7 Mtn West
8 C-USA
9 MAC
10 Sun Belt

 

Now, the idea that I think would be extra cool and would give us a lot more better matchups earlier in the season AND force schools to play teams of their own caliber, is the "Challenge" system.  Teams are matched up against teams from adjacently-seeded conferences for an early non-conference game, say in Week 1, 2, or 3.  The teams are matched up based upon the previous season's conference record.  The games will be at campus sites and will count just like any other game would.  Even seeds would host the games, so, for instance, the #2 seed from one conference would host the #1 team from another conference.  Every conference will participate except the Heartland 16 and the Sun Belt, since those conferences play 9 conference games.  The matchups will be set up accordingly shown in the tables below, and hypothetical matchups based upon the conclusion of the 2014 season are shown in those same tables. (Spoiler: some luscious matchups emerge.)

 

SEC - B1G Challenge

2015 Matchup

(From 2014 season)

[email protected] Alabama @ Michigan St
[email protected] Ohio St @ Miss St
[email protected] Georgia @ Minnesota
[email protected] Wisconsin @ Mississippi
[email protected] Auburn @ Iowa
[email protected] Notre Dame @ LSU
[email protected] Florida @ Illinois
[email protected] Michigan @ Tennessee
[email protected] S Carolina @ Penn St
[email protected] [email protected]
[email protected] Kentucky @ Purdue
[email protected] Indiana @ Vanderbilt

 

Pac-12 - ACC Challenge

2015 Matchup

(From 2014 season)

Pac12(1)@ACC2 Oregon @ GA Tech
[email protected](2) Florida St @ Arizona
Pac12(3)@ACC4 UCLA @ Duke
[email protected](4) Clemson @ Arizona St
Pac12(5)@ACC6 [email protected]
[email protected](6) North Carolina @ Utah
Pac12(7)@ACC8 Stanford @ NC State
[email protected](8) BC @ BYU
Pac12(9)@ACC10 Washington @ Miami
[email protected](10) VA Tech @ Cal
Pac12(11)@ACC12 Washington St @ Wake
[email protected](12) Virginia @ Oregon St

 

American - MWC Challenge

2015 Matchup

(From 2014 season)

[email protected] [email protected]
[email protected] Boise St @ C Florida
[email protected] Marshall @ Fresno St
[email protected] Utah St @ Louisville
[email protected] E Carolina @ Air Force
[email protected] San Diego St @ WVU
[email protected] Pittsburgh @ Hawai'i
[email protected] Nevada @ Temple
[email protected] Rutgers @ New Mexico
[email protected] San Jose St @S Florida
[email protected] Syracuse @ UNLV
[email protected] Wyoming @ UConn

 

Conference-USA - MAC Challenge

2015 Matchup

(From 2014 Season)

[email protected] [email protected]
[email protected] NIU @ LA Tech
[email protected] UTEP @ BGSU
[email protected] WMU @ UAB
[email protected] ODU @ Ohio
[email protected] CMU @ UTSA
[email protected] FIU @ Akron
[email protected] Ball St @ UMass
[email protected] FAU @ Miami U
[email protected] Buffalo @ Tulsa
[email protected] Tulane @ EMU
[email protected] Kent St @ S Miss

 

Aren't the top half of those great? Even the tip top of the Group of 5 Challenges are pretty good viewing.  I'd watch Cincinnati-Colorado State and Boise State-Central Florida.

 

Now, after the Challenges, and Rivalry Weekend, and The Game, and Championship Saturday, it's time for the playoffs.  Here's how it would work.  The SEC and Big Ten, as the top two seeds in this hypothetical format, would head up two different brackets.  The left bracket, with the SEC, would be the SEC, the lower seed remaining from the (7), (8), (9), (10) matchups, and the Heartland (4) and ACC (5).  Winners of SEC v 7, 8, 9, or 10, and Heartland v ACC would play in a Final Four matchup at a rotating New Year's Six site.  The right bracket, with the Big Ten, would be the Big Ten, the higher seed remaining from the (7), (8), (9), (10) matchups, and the Pac-12 (3) and American (6).  Winners of Big Ten v 7, 8, 9, or 10, and Pac-12 v American would play in a Final Four matchup at a rotating New Year's Six site.

 

The College Football Final would be played at a host site that bid for the rights to host the game on the 2nd Sunday of January at 8:30pm ET.

(Army-Navy would keep its slot on the 2nd Saturday of December at 4:30pm ET).

 

Championship Saturday

(1st Saturday in Dec.)

Playoffs, Round 1

(2nd Saturday in Dec.)

Playoffs, Round 2

(3rd Saturday in Dec.)

Playoffs, Final Four

(January 1, New Year's Six Sites)

College Football Final

(2nd Sunday of Jan.)

SEC(1) BYE

v lower seed remaining of (7), (8), (9), or (10)

(6:40pmET)

v winner of (5) @ (4) (8:30pmET)

Big Ten (2)

BYE

v higher seed remaining of (7), (8), (9), or (10)

(12pmET)

v winner of (6) @ (3)  

Pac-12 (3)

BYE

v AAC (6)

(10pmET)

v Big Ten (2)  
Heartland16 (4) BYE

v ACC (5)

(3:20pmET)

v SEC (1)  
ACC (5) BYE

@ H16 (4)

(3:20pmET)

v SEC (1)  
American (6) BYE

@ P12 (3)

(10pmET)

v Big Ten (2)  
Mtn. West (7)

v SBC Champion

(9pm ET)

@ SEC or Big Ten IF WIN    
C-USA (8)

v MAC Champion

(12pmET)

@ SEC or Big Ten IF WIN    
MAC (9)

@ C-USA Champion

(12pmET)

@ SEC or Big Ten IF WIN    
Sun Belt (10)

@ MWC Champion

(9pm ET)

@ SEC or Big Ten IF WIN    

 

So there you have it, folks.  I wish I knew how to make a bracket to show more clearly how my playoff vision would work, but hopefully it wasn't too complicated to figure out.  Really enjoyed coming up with all this and thinking about all the possibilities.  Cheers.

Comments

We'll be Champions

July 27th, 2015 at 11:45 PM ^

I only have one complaint, besides the fact that I think the conferences are good now with the exception of the big 12 and that they could add a couple more teams, in the big ten you have Purdue in the east division and penn st in the west division. In fact, all the teams in the east division are located in west of an western division team.

s/ except for the big 12 part

Tater

July 28th, 2015 at 1:12 AM ^

You spent time reading the post, you commented on it and you complimented it.  An upvote would be sorta classy; he did a lot of work here.

95civicex

July 28th, 2015 at 7:22 AM ^

I like it.
I think it's pretty well thought out.

I really like the challenge system idea. It's a pretty fresh take on keeping out of conference scheduling entertaining. I think a nice tweak would be to have it a two-year rotating system. So your hypothetical 2015 B1G/SEC challenge would set up a home and home for the 2015/2016 years. Then 2017 we would re-seed and start the cycle over again for 2017/2018.Then 2015 UofM plays at Tenn. in 2016 Tenn. comes up here.

Or have the odd seeded teams host. I can see fans, coaches and athletic directors alike getting pretty steamed over winning their conference and then being forced to play arguably their toughest non-conference game on the road the following year, simply because their seed is an odd number.

 

Moonlight Graham

July 28th, 2015 at 10:27 AM ^

ideas to make matchups and playoff scenarios more interesting, even though we all know it will never happen. 

One thing that I DO think is feasible and I would like to see ESPN and the CFP 'cartel' get behind is creating a more specialized set of bowls around the "Group of Five" conferences ... Perhaps "CoFoPo Jr."? 

Even in the unlikely event that a Boise State makes the final four, I'd like to see a four-team bracket set up for the MAC, MWC, SuBelt, CUSA and American as well. Take the four highest-ranked teams from these conferences and play them off. 

ESPN or Fox would have literally nothing to lose and everything to gain by this. There are already at least 4-6 low-level bowl matchups each year between Group of Five conferences anyway, so why not raise the stakes considerably for two of them? Then make the "Group of Five Championship" one of the early New Year's Day games, or play it the Saturday before the big CFP championship where normally they schedule the GoDaddy or International bowl or whatever. 

And again, if a Boise does break into the big four, just take those ranked 2-5. It's not that complicated, and it would strengthen the stature and exposure of "other half" of the FBS. In the end, give them something more to "play for." 

Engin77

July 28th, 2015 at 11:28 AM ^

Appears lots of thought went into maintain traditional rivalries and vestiges of College Football, +1 for that.

But I'd vote against this proposal; College Football is already presented like pro football played on Saturday (and Thursday, Friday, ...); and just to fill time on various TV networks.  So, bottom line, I'd vote no.

ST3

July 28th, 2015 at 11:37 AM ^

As much as we would all like to unscramble certain eggs, I think we're stuck with at least Nebraska and probably Maryland and Rutgers as well. To hell with Notre Dame.

MaizeJacket

July 29th, 2015 at 9:31 AM ^

So we can do what we want! I don't mind Nebraska in the Big Ten but I think they are a better fit in the "Heartland" conference.  Maryland and Rutgers, totally.  As an ACC fan too I miss them.  They were a charter member for 50 years and had a very long and continuous rivalry with Virginia.  Rutgers, who cares.

MadMatt

July 28th, 2015 at 12:42 PM ^

I upvoted you for the effort you spent creating interesting content during a slow time for college football news.  Thank you, there is much in here worth discussing.

As a proposal for a playoff system, it is lacking in some areas and extremely unlikely to be adopted:

- Inviting 10 teams to a 4 round playoff?  You give me that many slots and that many rounds, and I can satisfy a lot of agendas and interests.  However, most people think a playoff system that big is not feasible, and have curtailed their proposals.

- Despite having that many slots, this playoff system still only invites one team each from the “Power Conferences.” They are likely to have teams that don’t win their conferences, but are clearly superior to other Champions.  A Champion like Boise State would be a deserving participant in many years, but I don’t think the Champion of the Mountain West will be deserving in every year.  The runner up of the B1G, SEC or PAC10 may have some heartburn with that.  With 4 rounds, why not go to 16 teams and add some wildcards?

- Even for the top seeded teams, you are asking its fan base to show up for an unscheduled home game, in the middle of the holidays, and then travel twice to two different Bowl locations if they play in the National Championships.  The lowest seeded teams may have to bring their fans to 4 consecutive playoff sites during the most expensive traveling season of the year.  I don’t see turnout for the playoff games being as bullish as you think it will be.

- Blowing up current conference memberships like you are doing is extraordinarily unlikely.  I doubt Nebraska would be OK with going back to the Heartland, or Notre Dame being assigned to the B1G.  Similarly, your assumptions about who is independent are uninformed.  BYU is an independent and Notre Dame is semi-independent.  In contrast, Navy is a member of the American Athletic Conference (along with several other teams you place in the American Conference).  Also, why are Army and Navy being treated differently from Air Force?

- I also doubt the Conferences would be OK with scrambling their current memberships, and everyone is going to have a problem with tearing up existing broadcast and other media contracts and payouts for various schools.

Thanks for giving us a bone for chewing during a slow time.

MaizeJacket

July 29th, 2015 at 9:24 AM ^

Penn State in the Big Ten West does not make a lot of sense geographically, but I thought we should balance out the divisions semi-competitively, and by keeping Purdue and Indiana together, there is no need for protected rivalries.

neandersthall

October 5th, 2015 at 2:19 AM ^

128 Teams in Div 1
Realign to:
8 conferences (geographically based)
16 teams per conference
4 divisions per conference
4 teams per division
2 teams are of current power 5 conference teams and 2 are from non thus making each division composed of 2 traditionally stronger schools and 2 traditionally weaker schools.

Each Division attempts to preserves rivalries.
Each division team plays each other once.
The rest of the games are based on seeds which come straight from the previous year's finish.
For example:

Conference 1, division 1, team 1 would play team 2, 3, 4
Then they play Conference 1, division 2, team 2 and 4
then C 1, D 3, T 2 and 4.
Etc.
Variations of this could put C1D1T1 vs C2D1T1 or whatever.

The point is, the previous year's finish determines the initial season seed and then schedules are basically automatically made out via formula (similar to what you proposed but better).

So a team like Boise can be upwardly mobile and go from the 3 seed up to the 1 seed in the division though it is irrelevant as they will obviously have to win the current year to make the playoffs....all the seeds do is make slightly easier match ups or not...doesn't really matter, just a way of scheduling things.

This keeps games geographically close by thus allowing TV contracts, road games, travel budgets, attendance, viewership to be maximized.

Once whatever the reg season schedule is played out, we then start the playoffs:
Winner of each division (4 x 8 = 32 teams) gets a post season spot. However, to not screw a division that has 2 excellent teams, you just allow the top 2 teams from each division in and re-seed the entire conference to start the conference play off....(or top 1 team and 4 wild cards instead of top 2) So total 64 team playoff

First weekend will consist of 32 games.
These games take place in smaller bowls (think gallery furniture.com or poinsettia). ***Thanksgiving weekend, imagine that!!!

Then another 16 games
The next round are in bigger bowls (think independence, liberty).

Then 8 games to determine conference champions which will actually mean something (large bowls like Alamo, Holiday)

In the end, the winner of each conference enters into an 8 team playoff.
That round of playoffs puts conference (regional match ups):
1vs 2 in the fiesta, (pacific and mountain teams for instance)
3vs 4 in the cotton,
5 vs 6 in the sugar,
7 vs 8 in the peach bowl

All in one amazing weekend of football.

Next puts winner of west coast teams in Rose bowl and East coast conferences in Oragne bowel.

National championship rotates just like the Superbowl.

So what do the conferences look like?
I have it all on a spread sheet, but here goes:

Pacific Mountain Southern Northern Midwest Northeast Eastern Southeast
Wash ASU Baylor Minneso NW Boston Duke FSU
WSU Arizona TCU Wiscons Iowa Syracuse Wake Forest LSU
Idaho UNM SMU WMU Iowa St. Buffalo UL Layfette UCF
Boise NMS UNT CMU NIU UMass Troy USF

Oregon TexasTch Texas OSU Illinois Maryland NCst Miami
OS Colorado TAMU WVU ND Rutgers UNC Florida
Nevada UTEP TSU Marshall BG Temple L tech FIU
UNLV Co. st UTSA Ohio MiamiO UConn S. Alabama FAU

Cal KSU OSU Mich Indiana VirginiaT Georgia Ole Miss
Stanford Kansas OKLA MSU Purdue Virginia GeorgiaT Miss St
SJSU Nebraska Tulsa Toledo Ball St Navy GeorgiaS S. Miss
Fresno Air Force Ark St. EMU Cincinnati Army UAB UL Monroe

USC BYU Ark Pitt Louisvile Tenn Clemson Alabama
UCLA Utah Missouri Penn UK Vanderbilt SouthCar Auburn
SDSU Utah St Rice Kent St WKU Memphis Ol Dominion Tulane
Hawahii Wyoming Houston Akron GeorgSt MiddleTen ECU Appalachian St