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So after igniting a 2013-2014 lineup debate last night, I figured I would stir the pot and get people thinking on another of my least favorite topics - conference realignment. Obviously, no one knows how this plays out, but I've heard a lot of conjecture about how things should work in a world with 64 "BCS" teams divided into four 16-team conferences. I have a proposal that I think allays some of the fears (such as Texas's apparent preference for a small, familiar conference) and I'm bored, so I'll post it. Let me also say that the part that has never really worked for me is how the Pac-12 goes to 16 - none of the current BCS members makes a lot of sense, let alone four more. Second, I just noticed that the latest realignment, coupled with the subtraction of the Big East from the BCS automatic bid pool, leaves 64 teams (NOT including Notre Dame) in the five remaining BCS conferences (ACC, SEC, B1G, Big 12, and Pac-12).
My proposal is this: four 16-team conferences, each with two 8-team divisions for football. These 8-team divisions would play every team in their division and two non-division games every year (if you rotated all of the cross-division games, without permanent rival games, that would put every team in the other division on your schedule every four years). The non-division, conference games would not count in determining the division champions, and thus determining who played in the conference championship game, thus making every division team's schedule equal (unlike what happened in the SEC this year) for determining the division champion. This would also give you four clear conference champions and, thus, four clear participants in a four-team playoff.
For non-football sports (particularly basketball), I propose each 16-team conference divide into four 4-team "pods." These 4-team pods would play home-and-home basketball series every year and one game against all other conference teams for a total of 18 conference games. Personally, I would get rid of conference tournaments, but I could also make an argument for replacing them with four-team, two-day tournaments featuring the pod champions (and I would include all 18 games in the pod standings since the schedules would again be equal, save for home-away splits).
What does everyone think? I don't like the "super conferences," and I don't have a good proposal for the 4 additional teams to go to the western conference, but this seems a relatively decent compromise in my book.
First of all, in an ideal world, I think this proposal is great. However, because of how the conferences are currently structured, I don't see it happening. I think the B1G, SEC and Big XII will eventually poach the good football teams from the ACC and I see the ACC becoming the de facto Big East of the new "super conference" pool. They'll still be higher up the food chain than the rest of the mid-major conferences, but a definite step below the 4 major conferences.
As far as numbers go, unless there's a radical change, I don't see the PAC 12 being able to get any more quality members (unless the Big XII were to desolve). They already reached with thier inclusion of Utah. The Big XII, unless they go the conference network route, will likely add only 2 more teams at most (hopefully Clemson and FSU). That leaves the SEC and B1G to go to 16 and the ACC will become more of a basketball centric league much like the Big East was.
The proposal is reasonable, but seems like the easy half -- who makes up those conferences is much more difficult. It also pre-supposes that the four conferences will work the same way. The NCAA has no jurisdiction there and I can't imagine all four conferences magically deciding the same rules are the way to go.
The amazing part to me is how safe the Big XII seems only a year or so after we thought we were in deep trouble.
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Speaking of realignment, the rumor's out that the Big East implodes Friday.
Looks like all the non football schools want out, which really isn't that bad for the Big East in the long run IMO.
Conference re-alignment will eventually destroy college sports as we know them I think. It has introduced a mentality of putting the dollar above everything else. That will be a huge problem once all the re-alignment stuff is finished. I think things will pretty much go like this.
1. They will settle on just what the big boy conferences are.
2. They will incorporate them into a football playoff that will produce lots of money, basically excluding everyone else.
3. They will look around for the next money pot to plunder and turn to basketball.
4. The NCAA will either get an offer to split revenue from the tourney something like 80% for BCS leagues and 20% for NCAA operating and everyone else or the BCS leagues will just leave for basketball and football if not everything.
College sports are rapidly losing their charm (if there is any left).
Let's be fair here, it's not conference realignment or even college sports at all that are putting short term profits (not the dollar in general, the dollar TODAY) over everything - it's 21st century Western Culture. Most people are interested in near term gratification over all else, so people make all kinds of choices for short-term success without considering long-term consequences. As for college athletics in general, I think we're not far from moving to systems more like the rest of the world, where development centers and development teams are fully professional, with kids starting into those professional programs at early ages (like 12 years old). The best talent in football and basketball still go to colleges in the US, but look around - this setup is unique in the world. Most places, the most talented athletes join professional programs without requirements for academics or other qualifications that we put on them here, regardless of age. Honestly, it's probably a better system, the problem is that it's a paradigm shift that most of the smaller-city and rural Americans are not ready for.
Ehh, spare me on the culture condemnation thing. Profit, is at the very least an honest motive in the system and vastly preferable to any other organizational concept for ones economy and culture in my view. Most businesses are 100% up front in what their overall goals are and there is actually a surprising amount of long-term planning done at most businesses. But by their very nature they are not being two-faced when they chase after dollars. That is after all their reason for existence.
College sports on the other hand hold themselves out as not for profit entities, which in my view opens them up to ridicule for their behavior. If you are going to pretend to be an institution of higher learning first and foremost then I expect you to act accordingly as opposed to how I might expect Apple or Microsoft of McDonalds to act. I don't see the rest of the worlds system working here. If we do I won't really like it. Semi-pro and developmental leagues suck. No one will go spend money to watch them or put them on TV and everyone knows it. I don't think it will happen because too many powerful entities are aligned with college sports. There is too much money in it for places like ESPN and all the schools. The players may make a pittance eventually but it will still be "college sports" with the familiar names on the front of the jersey. Too much money for it to go to a club style system.
What you will see is a bastardized version of college athletics that keeps the money flowing and no longer supports the other thousands of athletes it has in the past. At that point the whole thing ought to be taxed by the government frankly. I honestly would not really care if they did it so long as we never have to hear about "student-athletes" and the various other crap they throw around whenever criticism is lobbed their way.
It works for me if you blow up all the conferences and make them regional again. Give me the old Big 8!
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