College Football Reformation Project

Hot Beef Take

There’s been periodic conversation about the state of college football and where it is headed. A lot of this dialogue centers around whether the college football royalties, also known as the Power Five conferences, will eventually break off from everybody else and create their own classification. And with that, they would and could create their own national championship. And if you think about it, even though they are still under the banner of the NCAA, it’s almost that way now. A team from the Group of Five, which are the conferences not deemed powerful enough to be called power conferences, was the lone undefeated team last season. Yes, Central Florida. The same Central Florida who came out and called themselves the national champions and hung a banner saying so in their stadium. And good for them.

But what if the Power Five did break off? What would happen to the Group of Five conferences? Many speculate that the Group of Five would form a new classification of their own with the top portion of the current Football Championship Subdivision. Now that sounds interesting. Especially for those of us who are die hard fans of the FCS and their true national championship playoff.

So that’s where this article is headed. I have appointed myself as the new Emperor of College Football. Everything from here on out is my world, my domain, my fantasy. It is not up for debate, for I am the ECF.

So, first off all, the Power Five. The Power Five and your conferences; Atlantic Coast, Big Ten, Big XII, Pacific Twelve and Southeastern. You have an uneven number of teams. The Big XII and Pacific-Twelve will be forced to expand to 14 teams like the others. The Pacific Twelve will take in Boise State and Brigham Young. Boise State will join your North Division and Brigham Young your South Division. You’re welcome. Big XII, I bestow you four new members. Houston, to join with the other Texas and Oklahoma schools to form a new Southwest Division. Joining your other four current members will be Central Florida, Cincinnati and Memphis to create a new Continental Division. Again, you’re welcome. That evens up all those conferences, but leaves us with the FBS Independents. Massachusetts, Liberty and New Mexico State, I’ll get to you in a while. Notre Dame and Army will stay as FBS Independents. Joining them will be Navy(American) and Air Force(Mountain West), who will break off from their current conferences and go it alone, the true military way.

This will be the new Football Bowl Subdivision alignment, with their 74 teams…

ATLANTIC COAST CONFERENCE

  • ATLANTIC DIVISION: Boston College, Clemson, Florida State, Louisville, North Carolina State, Syracuse, Wake Forest
  • COASTAL DIVISION: Duke, Georgia Tech, Miami(FL), North Carolina, Pittsburgh, Virginia, Virginia Tech

BIG TEN 

  • EAST DIVISION: Indiana, Maryland, Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State, Penn State, Rutgers
  • WEST DIVISION: Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, Northwestern, Purdue, Wisconsin

BIG XII

  • CONTINENTAL DIVISION: Central Florida, Cincinnati, Iowa State, Kansas, Kansas State, Memphis, West Virginia
  • SOUTHWEST DIVISION: Baylor, Houston, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas, Texas Christian, Texas Tech

PACIFIC FOURTEEN

  • NORTH DIVISION: Boise State, California, Oregon, Oregon State, Stanford, Washington, Washington State
  • SOUTH DIVISION: Arizona, Arizona State, Brigham Young, Colorado, Southern California, UCLA, Utah

SOUTHEASTERN

  • EAST DIVISION: Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Missouri, South Carolina, Tennessee, Vanderbilt
  • WEST DIVISION: Alabama, Arkansas, Auburn, Louisiana State, Mississippi, Mississippi State, Texas A&M

FBS INDEPENDENTS

  • Air Force, Army, Navy, Notre Dame

With the 74 schools established in the new FBS plan, we’re left with 56 teams, 53 in the Group of Five conferences and 3 independents. Now it’s not in the best interest to start tearing conferences apart, not from the remaining Group of Five or from the current FCS. The independent teams will be slotted into conferences with geographical integrity, with current and/or potential rivalry considerations. Otherwise, conferences will be left alone as they’re currently constructed.

This new classification will be called the College Football Union. The CFU will consist of thirteen conferences. These conferences will comply within certain parameters to compete in the CFU.

  1. Conference schools will be required to spend at least 60 scholarships and no more than a maximum 63 scholarships per year.
  2. Conferences that schedule games during the fourth Thursday in November, will not be eligible.
  3. Conferences that prefer to send their conference champions to a bowl game or championship classic game, will not be eligible.
  4. Teams belonging to a conference that complies, but the individual institution does not, will not be eligible.

With those parameters in place, the following conferences would not be eligible for the CFU; the Ivy League, the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference and the Southwestern Athletic Conference. Also, Georgetown, being non-scholarship compliant would be banned from the Patriot League. In this scenario, schools from the Northeast Conference, not willing to move up to the 60-63 scholarship threshold, would likewise be banned.

The thought of having everyone from the current FCS move up to the 85 scholarship threshold was considered, but in the end, those moving down to 63 is an easier transition. Teams giving out scholarships at the 63 level do not have to give out exclusive full rides, like the 85 level. Theoretically, teams could give out 41 full rides and 44 half-rides. It’s still 85 players, except about half the players are picking up some of their tab.

With scholarships out of the way, eligibility taken care of, what about the schedule. The schedule will be tweaked to a new thirteen week, twelve game format. The week that is now considered Week 0, at least for the FCS, will be the new Week 1 for the CFU. The final weekend will still be the third weekend of November. Most years, the schedule will consist of thirteen weeks, but occasionally the schedule will have a fourteenth. Those years, the CFU schools will just get another week of rest.

Before we get into all of the who’s who, let’s address the three remaining previous FBS Independents and where they’re going. The first is Massachusetts, who’ll go into the American Conference. This will put them in the same league with Connecticut and Temple, natural rivals and bump the conference back to eight after defections from Central Florida, Cincinnati, Houston, Memphis and Navy. Liberty, who had just made the jump to FCS this season, will go back where they came from, rejoining the Big South Conference. The last team, New Mexico State, will follow former conference rival, Idaho, to the Big Sky Conference, as they split into two divisions of seven. Here’s how they would all look…

AMERICAN ATHLETIC

  • Connecticut, East Carolina, Massachusetts, South Florida, Southern Methodist, Temple, Tulane, Tulsa

BIG SKY

  • NORTH DIVISION: Eastern Washington, Idaho, Idaho State, Montana, Montana State, Portland State, Weber State
  • SOUTH DIVISION: Cal Poly, New Mexico State, Northern Arizona, Northern Colorado, Sacramento State, Southern Utah, UC-Davis

BIG SOUTH

  • Charleston Southern, Gardner-Webb, Hampton, Kennesaw State, Liberty, Monmouth, North Alabama
  • NOTE: Teams that could be defections from the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference, may desire to be in a conference that has a path to a playoff.
  • Three possible teams could be: North Carolina A&T, North Carolina Central, Howard
  • NOTE: Teams playing other sports in the Atlantic Sun Conference have automatic admittance to the Big South, if they desire to play scholarship football.
  • These two teams include: Jacksonville, Stetson

COLONIAL ATHLETIC

  • Albany, Delaware, Elon, James Madison, Maine, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Richmond, Stony Brook, Towson, Villanova, William & Mary

CONFERENCE USA, EAST DIVISION

  • EAST DIVISION: Charlotte, Florida Atlantic, Florida International, Marshall, Middle Tennessee, Old Dominion, Western Kentucky
  • WEST DIVISION: Alabama-Birmingham, Louisiana Tech, North Texas, Rice, Southern Mississippi, Texas-El Paso, Texas-San Antonio

MID-AMERICAN

  • EAST DIVISION: Akron, Bowling Green, Buffalo, Kent State, Miami(OH), Ohio
  • WEST DIVISION: Ball State, Central Michigan, Eastern Michigan, Northern Illinois, Toledo, Western Michigan

MISSOURI VALLEY

  • Illinois State, Indiana State, Missouri State, North Dakota, North Dakota State, Northern Iowa, South Dakota, South Dakota State, Southern Illinois, Western Illinois, Youngstown State

MOUNTAIN WEST

  • Colorado State, Fresno State, Hawai’i, New Mexico, Nevada, San Diego State, San Jose State, UNLV, Utah State, Wyoming

OHIO VALLEY

  • Austin Peay, Eastern Illinois, Eastern Kentucky, Jacksonville State, Murray State, Southeast Missouri State, Tennessee-Martin, Tennessee State, Tennessee Tech

PATRIOT

  • Bucknell, Colgate, Fordham, Holy Cross, Lafayette, Lehigh
  • NOTE: Any of the Northeast Conference teams who elect to jump from 40 to the 60-63 scholarship threshold, will join this conference as part of a Patriot/Northeast merger.
  • These teams included: Bryant, Central Connecticut State, Duquesne, Robert Morris, St. Francis, Sacred Heart, Wagner

SOUTHERN

  • Chattanooga, The Citadel, East Tennessee State, Furman, Mercer, Samford, Virginia Military, Western Carolina, Wofford

SOUTHLAND

  • Abilene Christian, Central Arkansas, Houston Baptist, Incarnate Word, Lamar, McNeese, Nicholls, Northwestern State, Sam Houston State, Southeastern Louisiana, Stephen F. Austin

SUN BELT

  • Appalachian State, Arkansas State, Coastal Carolina, Georgia Southern, Georgia State, Louisiana, Louisiana-Monroe, South Alabama, Texas State, Troy

All in all, we have 133 teams and the potential for 12 more, in this configuration. Probably a little bigger than ideal, but it’s not a deal breaker by any sort. Of course, not all of those extra 12 are locks to move up either. They’re just as likely to move down to the next level.

Now we have to figure out the playoffs, both qualifiers and format. We have thirteen conferences and every one of them will get an automatic bid. Three conferences, maybe four; Big Sky, Conference USA, Mid-American and potentially, Colonial, all could have conference championship games, if all their teams agree to schedule the final week of their regular season open, to allow for this to happen. Otherwise, it’s advisable that the conferences run their schedules like a split with however many cross-over games they see fit and crown a champion with one set of standings. This is the model that the Colonial currently uses. It’s not unrealistic to assume that each of these conference’s division winners would probably good enough to garner an at-large bid, at worst, anyhow.

The NCAA demands that, at least, 50% of the playoff field be constructed of at-large bids. In this set-up, at least thirteen would be needed. But a 26-team field seems a tad unbalanced, so we’ll go with 15 at-large bids. This gets the field up to 28, which allows for seven teams to be placed in each quarter of the bracket and still allowing for the top four teams to receive First Round byes. Overall, eight teams will still receive national seeds, just to bring more balance to the bracket.

The First, Second, Quarterfinal and Semifinal Rounds will all be played on campus sites. The CFU National Championship will be played in an alternating set of venues to be determined later. Seeded teams will always host unless playing another higher seeded team. The field will be selected and set by a Selection Committee, headed by myself, The Emperor of College Football. The grouping of teams will still follow a loose geographic outline, attempting to avoid rematches as early as possible. The MVFC rule will still be in effect, keeping all teams off one half of the bracket when a conference sending four or more to the tournament/playoffs.

Enjoy the read, just remember…this is my fantasy. If you don’t like it, create your own.