My idea for NCAA conference realignment

Submitted by Crash on December 11th, 2018 at 11:24 AM

My first thread so please be gentle.

A co-worker and I hashed this out over 15 minutes so it's obviously not perfect.

I'm less concerned with which schools go where.  I put more thought into what the overall layout was and how champions were determined.  I think the idea of 4 super conferences is great with the division winners playing as a first round to an 8-team playoff.  Each conference has 16 teams and they are linked to a "minor league" conference that makes sense geographically.  So the Big Ten would have the MAC as their minor league.  The worst team in the Big Ten gets demoted down to the MAC and the MAC champs get promoted up at the end of the season.  This is what they do with professional soccer and I think the system works brilliantly.  Now you give the UCF's of the world a chance to compete, but it needs to be sustained performance over a couple seasons.  Also, bye bye Rutgers.  They won't even be able to compete in the MAC.  PAC 12, SEC, and ACC all do the same.  

What did I miss?


Wolverine Devotee

December 11th, 2018 at 11:27 AM ^

I like it but it will never happen. These conferences don’t care about anything but money. 

Michigan HS football does the same thing in some leagues. The Macomb Arena Conference has division hierarchy that goes red-white-Blue-gold-silver-bronze

Romeo who destroyed Cass Tech in the Division 1 State title game a couple years ago was in the 2nd tier of their own conference.

I also don’t think that much should be put on the line for unpaid players. I’m not a pay the players guy but think of how much pressure you’re putting on them if relegation is ever approaching. 

Also would hurt athletic departments who get relegated because hosting WMU and Akron for your big home games is a bit different than Michigan or OSU. 


December 11th, 2018 at 11:37 AM ^

The MHSAA Playoffs however are determined by metrics, not division winners. Each MHSAA team has a chance from the beginning of the season to make the playoffs including those relegated teams.

The proposed system in the OP only allows for division winners, which only allows for teams in those divisions to make the playoffs. A relegated team doesn't have a shot for the playoffs in this system.

Whirled Peas

December 11th, 2018 at 5:26 PM ^

Definitely about the money. The HAVEs have no incentive to share with the HAVE NOTS.  Illinois makes more $$$ than most power 5 schools, and doesn't even compare to a MAC school.  They have no reason to support a system that would Thaler away their payday or cause them to split the pie more ways.

I personally love the idea of relegation, but whatever the new system is it would have to vastly increase the $$$ generated to entice the schools to change


December 11th, 2018 at 11:29 AM ^

If relegation can't catch on in the MLS, it won't in any other league.

I don't want a 3-9 Michigan State to get relegated or a 3-9 Texas to get relegated or a 3-9 Tennessee to get relegated. Would you want to play a MAC schedule the next season when Michigan went 3-9 with Rich Rod?

Teams vary from year to year. Teams shouldn't be punished based on last year's results.


December 11th, 2018 at 11:35 AM ^


Relegation is a pipe dream that gets regurgitated and proposed for every sport, and in each circumstance there is no way that it would ever occur or even work particularly well. Ultimately, American sports are not the same as European soccer and never will be.

There's a logic to 4-conference alignments (they've been proposed on this board for many years) but it's pretty unlikely without a catastrophic change in the current landscape. Not impossible, but a playoff expansion to 8 teams that accommodates all five (and probably provides a token berth for the top group-of-five team, thus preserving the current tier arrangement) is much more likely. 


December 11th, 2018 at 11:52 AM ^

No way would a down Michigan/Texas/ND/USC allow themselves to get demoted to the minor league. 

Also, I realize this is a sports-focused blog but take a step back and think about what these are supposed to be - academic conferences. Being in the Big 10 means something (it meant a little more before Nebraska joined) and WMU (or some other regional school) doesn't warrant inclusion. 


December 11th, 2018 at 11:58 AM ^

You expect universities that have been dumping hundreds of millions of dollars into stadium refurbishments and facilities improvements are going to put that all at risk for a European competition model that will ensure some of them will suffer relegation and massive financial losses?  Why would a Michigan or an Ohio State ever agree to something like that when they swimming in dough.

The only way to reform college football is for NCAA leadership to acknowledge that they have a problem, which they haven't.  When fan attendance drops, TV ratings slide, and overall earnings slip, the NCAA will do something about the quality of the product.


December 11th, 2018 at 1:09 PM ^

To me the only way to improve quality is to somehow implement parity. Not sure how you do it unless you make some changes to recruiting and not sure that will ever happen or even be fair to kids. 

But untli teams are more on even playing field and more then 3-4 teams are capable of winning the NC every year I don’t think things will change. For me there is no more excitement or intrigue to college football. Don’t really care to watch Clemson and Alabama play for the NC every year. Would like to see something different and my team actually ha e a chance to win it all occasionally 


December 11th, 2018 at 12:11 PM ^

This gets brought up every few weeks.  People like the idea of promotion/relegation until they remember that we would have been relegated in the RR era.  No one actually wants their own team to get relegated, they just want to watch other teams fight it out.

Also, 16 teams is too many.  


December 11th, 2018 at 12:18 PM ^

"What did I miss?"

You missed that conferences are voluntary associations of independent Universities, and that no University in its right mind would voluntarily join a conference if they could be kicked out for poor performance on the field.


December 11th, 2018 at 12:42 PM ^

Well, the fact that pretty much every single independent team from the 1970s (with one or two prominent exceptions) joined a conference in the 1980s or 1990s tells you that the schools themselves find the conferences to be necessary.

I have not heard of a single team in a conference clamoring to go independent since that time, either.  It has happened, but usually against a school's desires.


Red is Blue

December 11th, 2018 at 12:50 PM ^

First, not sure schools find joining conferences is "necessary".  "Beneficial", maybe?

Second, the schools themselves find the conferences beneficial under the conditions that existed/exist.  Perhaps the poster is suggesting the changes the conditions, such that conference membership is no longer beneficial.


December 11th, 2018 at 1:07 PM ^

Yes, perhaps that is what is being suggested.  I don't see how you remove those conditions, since the condition that made conference membership...beneficial...was the NCAA v Board of Regents of the University of Oklahoma (1984) Supreme Court ruling that held that the NCAA violated anti-trust rules by regulating television appearances in football. 

As a result of that ruling, TV money in football was made available to schools, conferences each negotiated television contracts, and schools outside of conferences (with one exception) found themselves increasingly cut out of the TV money.

So to remove those conditions, I guess you can have the federal government give an anti-trust exemption to the NCAA and allow them to limit television appearances like they did in the 1970s.  I don't see any other way to make conference membership less beneficial.


December 11th, 2018 at 12:36 PM ^

I think that's a brilliant idea, but other commenters are right, it will never happen.  Each of the conferences operate independently.    The promoting up thing doesn't really work from an academic conference stand point though.   Northern Illinois or Central Michigan don't belong in the Big Ten.   It also only works for one sport.   The conferences are multisport conferences.   If UCF, wants to play with the big boys, they should up their academic game and get into a better conference.  

Mr Miggle

December 11th, 2018 at 12:37 PM ^

When I was a kid I used to suggest trades for my favorite team. I didn't know anything about the contracts and didn't care too much about why the other team would be interested. The trades all  would help my team and they weren't ridiculously lopsided so they made sense to me.

Realignment proposals are the MGoBlog equivalent.


December 11th, 2018 at 12:45 PM ^

The conferences would still be unbalanced and scheduling would still have way too much impact to allow for a 4 team playoff. 

If you are doing promotion relegation it should just be a national conference. Keep the conferences for other sports but for football the top tier should just be one league, second tier next. Geographic conferences will always lead to some imbalance


December 11th, 2018 at 1:07 PM ^

4 16-team super conferences is a good idea, no independent teams can participate in the National Playoff.

The first four playoff games are played on New Year's Day, and then the semi-finals and finals the two weeks after that.

You play the seven other teams in your side of the conference, and that counts toward your side of the conference Championship. You play two teams from the other side of your conference, plus 2-games with other D1 opponents from the other three super conferences.  You have a 2-year home-and-away with these teams. You play one game with a team that would be considered D2, always at home. A 6 or 7 game home schedule every year.  

Scholarship limit is 88, with a maximum of 22 every year, no exceptions. If you have to fill your roster, it has to be with Walk-Ons.   You can only offer 100 high school players scholarships.  The 100 has to be publicly posted.  If you cannot fill your roster within the 100 high school players you offered, you have to fill it with Walk-Ons that come from players who are not offered D1 scholarships by anyone.  

You have to play a maximum of three years, and if you decide to leave school and enter the NFL draft after 3 years, you have to pay back the scholarship money of the fourth-year to the school whether you are drafted or not.  

If you decide to transfer, you must sit out for 1 year, unless you have played three years at one school.

Each school make make only one home visit, with either one coach, or some, or all the coaches.  Players may make five official visits that is paid for by the school, and there is a two-week window in the summer when players may unofficially visit a school, with absolutely no contact by the coaching staff or anyone associated with the coaching staff.  

All Players are paid the same, but the money is put into an account and can only be collected after they are done with their college eligibility(4-5 years) is exhausted.  The money cannot be used by any lending institution as collateral for a loan.

Coaches caught breaking NCAA rules are automatically banned for five years from coaching or being associated at the D1 level.  A second breaking of the rules is a lifetime ban.  

Academic standards must be across the board, with no school having an advantage over another by lowering their academic standards for accepting players.  






December 11th, 2018 at 2:40 PM ^

Has the playoff system with a committee really made the fan experience that much better?  It may be really exciting for the 4 teams that have a chance at a championship every year, but the rest of the post season is irrelevant now.  This year we have the Big Ten champs playing the Pac 12 champs in the Rose Bowl, and I highly doubt anyone really cares.  Finding that 1 best team in the county to call national champs every year is a waste of time when you consider most years the best team could be any of a dozen teams on any given weekend.  I think the entertainment value of focusing almost entirely on finding a national champion is quite low compared to the old days when you just found good interesting match-ups with some traditional ties.

This is why I like the idea of promotion/relegation.  It's more interesting from an entertainment standpoint.  I don't care about the money aspects because it doesn't effect me, and I know there's no chance of it actually happening.  It was just something to entertain in my head.

snarling wolverine

December 11th, 2018 at 3:21 PM ^

It may be really exciting for the 4 teams that have a chance at a championship every year, but the rest of the post season is irrelevant now. 

I never understand this argument.  The great majority of bowls have always been irrelevant.  During the BCS era there was only one bowl game that mattered.  Now there are two.  

And let's be honest, you like promotion/relegation because you think it won't affect Michigan.



December 11th, 2018 at 1:18 PM ^

This format I believe is both plausible, and it still ensures the same or more revenue than the current structure:

64 FBS-A teams (Power 4 conferences). That’s 4 16 team conferences. It would require 2 current power 5 teams being dropped (Baylor and Wake would be my choice).

10 conference gamesand 2 non-conference games. Highest two teams make the conference championship a quarterfinal game. The non conference games do not effect chance to make the playoffs, so this could create some great matchups. Eligible teams who do not make the 4 team playoff (comprised of only conference champions) are still invited to Bowl games.

64 FBS-AA teams. 4 16 team conferences as well. These schools can crossover with FBS-A teams in non-conference and in bowl matchups. The 4 champions compete in the AA playoffs. AA semifinals played at home sites, and championship played where the FBS-A championship is played; but on the Friday before championship Monday.

Also, the NY6 becomes the NY8 with a bowl being placed in the Midwest (most likely Indy) and on the east coast (most likely Charlotte). Now the bowls are more geographically neutral and they rotate as they do now.

This eliminates the committee, incentivizes teams to schedule strong out of conference, keeps the bowls, and allows the smaller schools a playoff as well.

Any disagreement?

Mr Miggle

December 11th, 2018 at 4:18 PM ^

Elements that are 100% implausible. Other than that, no disagreements.

1. Throwing schools out of the top division

2. Barring other FBS schools from playoff consideration

3. Forcing conferences to have exactly 16 members

4. Forcing all conferences to schedule the same way

5. Big time schools will be happy with 6 home games, so tougher non-con schedules.

6. The idea that any conference, indeed any school, would approve of this or any similar scheme.

7. That politicians will stand for #1 and especially #2.