This article is some of my content from last year that needed a new home
During the 2010 season there were 120 football programs competing in the Football Bowl Subdivison (the highest level of college football). Only a handful of teams have a legitimate shot at the BCS National Title every year. That was no different this past season in which Auburn was crowned the champion, not by the NCAA (which doesn't run the FBS postseason or award a trophy to its champion), but by the BCS and other organizations like the one I belong to, the FWAA. The FWAA (which I was not a member of at the time) made news last offseason by vacating the national championship it awarded to USC in 2004 and then deciding not to give the Grantland Rice Trophy to Auburn. The FWAA was faced with the decision to take away the trophy from USC because the NCAA retroactively declared that Reggie Bush was ineligible. Despite what we all saw, because of the NCAA's decision, the highlight reel plays Bush made for the Trojans never officially happened. NCAA President Mark Emmert just reiterated his stance against pay-for-play schemes. So what? Why should the NCAA get to say who plays and who doesn't if they won't take over the postseason like they do for every other sport including FCS football? As I touched upon in an article about the film Pony Excess, why are we supposed to be so upset about pay-for-play anyway? We aren't supposed to be angry that college football is the de facto minor leagues for the NFL without the athletes getting the benefits of being minor leaguers. We are told that the student-athletes have to be amatuers and that they can't be paid or receive gifts, among other rules concerning their status. Yet, at the end of every season, these rules go by the wayside so that bowl gifts can be handed out by private organizations hosting the bowl game. To recap: private individuals giving cash or prizes to student-athletes is not ok. Private organizations hosting a game as a reward for a successful season (or at least .500) and handing out prizes to the student-athletes, that's ok. These bowls trips can be a net loss income wise for the schools because have to buy tickets even if the fans don't want to attend the game. This is not a new issue as you can see in this article from the days (the year 2000) when there were a mere twenty-five bowl games (there were 35 in 2010). The big six conference schools take home most of the money that is available and are the only conferences with autobids into the BCS. Instead of rebelling against this system, the smaller schools may make attempts to become the bigger schools. TCU is probably the best example (and now a successful one).
TCU is a small private school (3,695 male students, 3.2% of these students are football players for TCU) in Fort Worth that was playing in the Mountain West Conference in 2010. TCU made the Rose Bowl this past season, a big payout to be sure. However, TCU spent more than twenty million dollars on the football program to get there. That profilgate spending had the Horned Frogs ranked 10th in the country in this category (their oponent Wisconsin spent a little over $22 million). TCU's athletics budget ($52.4 million) has more than doubled over the last half decade. TCU kept winning (108-30 from 2000-present) and spending money and now they have a place in the Big East (in 2012), a BCS autobid conference. I don't particularly have a problem with any of this spending. Yet, at the end of this season, none of that money could earn the school a spot in the title game. The Horned Frogs' undefeated performance on the playing field could not get them a shot a championship either. TCU played well in their win over Wisconsin, but could they keep it up in a playoff situation? That's something I would have liked to find out. I don't think that it is selfish to say that. So with that in mind, I'll give you my proposal for reforming major college football by it breaking away from the NCAA.
The New Strucutre of Major College Football
I propose that the Football Bowl Subdivision be broken into two divisions: one Premier League
(32 teams) and one Second Division (for now, 88 teams). The Premier League will have two conferences with four divisions with four teams per division. Like the NFL playoffs, the division winners will be guaranteed a playoff spot, although it may be a wildcard slot. There will be 12 total playoff spots. The six teams with the worst record in the Premier League will be relegated to the Second Division. The top six finishers in the Second Division will be promoted to the Premier League. The Second Division will have eight conferences and a twenty team playoff with four play-in games. Each of the eight conferences will have at least one autobid for their regular season conference winner. The other playoff teams and seeding will be determined by a Second Division selection committee. Premier League teams cannot schedule Second Division teams and Second Division teams may not schedule FCS teams for any game except for an exhibition game. Both the Premier League and Second Division will have 12 regular season games. Teams in the Premier League will play each team in their division two times, three other teams in their conference and three teams from the other conference. The Premier League and Second Division will be established as corporations with each member team being a shareholder and receiving one vote to appoint board members and to approve new rules or decide on other issues that may arise. These corporations could obviously change the number of teams, playoff structure and so forth, so what I said about those things are suggestions.
Selecting the Teams for the First Season of the Premier League
If the system described above had been in place for the 2010 season, what teams would have been in the Premier League? As imperfect as it might be, rankings from 2009 would have to be used to pick teams for 2010. Each 2009 FBS conference winner would be selected plus other highly ranked teams to construct the Premier League. After the Premier League's initial season, relegation will weed out underperforming or simply outmatched teams. Here are the teams that would have been in the 2010 Premier League and Second Division.
Division A: Georgia Tech, Florida, Miami, Virginia Tech
Division B: LSU, TCU, Texas, Texas Tech
Division C: Central Michigan, Iowa, Pitt, Wisconsin
Division D: Nebraska, Oregon, Oregon State, Utah
Division A: Alabama, Ole Miss, Oklahoma State, Troy
Division B: East Carolina, Navy, Ohio State, Penn State
Division C: Cincinnati, Clemson, Georgia, West Virginia
Division D: Arizona, Boise State, BYU, USC
Division A: Boston College, Florida State, Maryland, NC State, UCF, Wake Forest
Division B: Duke, North Carolina, South Carolina, South Florida, UConn, Virginia
Division A: Iowa State, Kansas, Kansas State, Missouri, Oklahoma, Tulsa
Division B: Arkansas, Auburn, Baylor, Houston, Tennessee, Texas A&M
Division A: Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisville, Purdue, Rutgers
Division B: Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, Notre Dame, Northwestern, Syracuse
Division A: Akron, Buffalo, Kent State, Marshall, Miami (OH), Ohio, Temple
Division B: Army, Ball State, Bowling Green, Eastern Michigan, Northern Illinois, Toledo, Western Michigan
Air Force, Colorado, Colorado State, Louisiana Tech, Memphis, Mississippi State, Rice, Southern Miss, Vanderbilt
Arizona State, California, Fresno State, Hawaii, San Diego State, San Jose State, Stanford, UCLA, Washington, Washington State
Arkansas State, Florida Atlantic, Florida International, Middle Tennessee State, North Texas, Tulane, UAB, ULL, ULM, Western Kentucky
Idaho, New Mexico, New Mexico State, Nevada, SMU, UNLV, Utah State, UTEP, Wyoming