About 10 years ago, when the last major round of conference realignments came around, I suspected there would be a major shift in the landscape of college sports. Boy did I hit the nail on the head …
About 10 years ago, when the last major round of conference realignments came around, I suspected there would be a major shift in the landscape of college sports.
Boy did I hit the nail on the head with that one.
Last week, it was announced that USC and UCLA and informed the Pac-12 they were leaving to become members of the BigTen conference.
Geographically, this makes little sense.
In fact, a lot of the realignments make no sense from a geographic perspective, but as we all know, money rules everything in sports these days.
With the Pac-12 facing an imminent collapse, the question now shifts to what happens to the remaining teams and do the other conferences stand pat?
I’ve not been a fan of the College Football Playoff. I’ve felt like the system has been subjugated by too much money and influence from ESPN.
It’s really less of a playoff and more of a four-team invitational.
And those big brands will always be getting favored over smaller brands in the landscape of college sports.
So facing these issues, I’ve got an easy solution that fixes the geographic landscape issue, as well as creates a true playoff atmosphere in college football.
Now let me be up front, I know this will never happen.
There’s too much money tied up in branding with the conferences and media deals.
The conferences all need to be rebranded into four different divisions: NCAA North, South, East and West.
Within each of those divisions, you’ll have two smaller regions made up of all the Power 5 conference teams.
Each team would play a full, eight-game schedule, with the ability to schedule four non-conference opponents.
When it comes time to the playoffs, your winner from each smaller division will play for the conference title.
In this model, each team that plays for a conference title would be automatically entered into an eight-team playoff.
This not only gives each conference game true meaning, but it eliminates the “eye test” and there will never be an issue like what happened a few years ago when Alabama was able to make the playoffs without playing for a conference title.
Now like I said, I’m aware this will never happen.
There’s too much money tied up in college football and the big brands of the sport have to have their risk minimized, which is why you never see teams making a Cinderella run like you see in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament every March.
We’ll likely see plenty of teams swapping and conferences expanding before it’s all said and done.
There’s rumor of the Big 12 reaching out to current Pac-12 teams to expand even farther, after UCF, Cincinnati, Houston and BYU enter the conference.
I’d wager Notre Dame has to join a conference at this point too.
In any case, with the Dog Days of Summer in full swing, sports pundits across the country will opine on the current state of the NCAA until we get to the opening kickoffs in just two month’s time.
Chris Siers is sports editor of the Tribune. Email him at email@example.com.
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