How I would morph College Football into a closer minor league system.
64 team “college” league. Broken into four – 16 team conferences. Each 16 team conference is broken into Two – 8 team divisions. In a 12 game regular season starting on Labor Day weekend: 7 of the games are within your division. 2 of the games are teams within the conference but outside your division. And the last 3 games are one each from the other conferences [most fair would be have a team with a similar position within the conference. So if your team got 7th in the conference, you would play the teams that got 7th in the other three conferences]. Eliminate conference championships; simply have a 1 to 16 ranking for each conference. After the 12 game season, an eight team playoff with the top 8 teams. Could be 1 and 2 of each conference or just top 8? I am undecided on how that works specifically. That adds 3 more games to a Championship. Total 15 games which is still less than the pros regular season. Meaning these guys can still be student athletes that play a lot less then pros. Boom!
Big Ten, Big 12, SEC, PAC 12 would be the most probable conference structures to build off of. The ACC teams would be split amongst those four conferences. Likely have some other teams thrown in to make it to 64 since currently those four conferences would only make 12+10+14+12=48. If you add in 14 more from ACC which makes 62. [Originally, I got this wrong. I had ACC with 15 teams. But Notre Dame is a member of ACC for everything except football. So the real number is 14 making the total only 62. Mistakes like this is exactly why I want to set this super-league up]. So there are two additional slots. There is room for a Boise State or something else to round out to 64 teams.
This is more likely a plan for establishing a minor league for football. Somewhere to truly greedy person who could/would fund this to happen. Instead of competing with the NFL like the failures of the USFL and XFL, simply trying to funnel talent to the NFL would be beneficial. It could make as much more money than current system. But only for the certain people.
From a money standpoint keeping the system college based makes it more likely to be accomplished. But there are hurdles. The colleges spend tons on stadiums and facilities like weight rooms, practice fields, dorms and feeding their football players. The easiest transition to set up this elite league would be to continue working with universities. That way there is a readymade system. There is not the need for a huge amount of startup capital.
Money is always going to be a concern. Look at the stagnation of building a stadium in Los Angeles. I believe the NFL would find a way to have a team in LA if there was a facility. But there still is no real plan to build a new stadium. Who knows when a shovel will start moving dirt? That is why a minor league is so hard to sustain.
Leagues that start up in earnest have not been able to compete. Partly because of money concerns. Partly because they were in markets that did not exist. USFL had teams in big cities where they had to compete for brand loyalty. Or smaller cities where there was no reason for brand loyalty.
The problem of brand loyalty is alleviated by keeping the system tied to colleges. So many college football fans have a personal attachment to “their team”. They grew up rooting for that team [for me it was rooting for Penn State]. They went to the school. They went to grad school there. Their spouse/significant other/partner went to school there. Something.
You can’t lose that type of dedication. At least to start, having these teams linked to universities will help to maintain that.
This is also this could lead to the slippery slope of paying players. This is a tricky topic and needs to be addressed separately. But is worth mentioning here.
There is another possibility too. In Soccer in England there are many different divisions with the Premier League being the best. But you have to win to stay in the division. If you are on the “bottom of the table” you can be “relegated” to another division.
There is the possibility to have that as a part of this system as well. So the other 56 teams that don’t make the original cut of 64 can still hold on to the possibility of winning their way in.
Those other teams would be in another four conference structure. So if you are the “B” division of the Big Ten, if you win that division, you have the chance to move up into the “A” division of the conference. You replace the last place “A” Division team.
For instance, let’s say Northern Illinois wins “B” division of the Big Ten [assuming the Big Ten absorbs the MAC as their “little brother”] and Nebraska is 16th in the “A” division. They switch places directly. So the next season, Northern Illinois plays in the Legends division of the Big Ten. Northern Illinois plays an out of conference schedule that includes 16th place teams from SEC, PAC-12 and Big 12 which are also newcomers to the “Super League”. And they have to prove themselves on the field or end up back in the “B” Division.
This is a sophistication that would come down the line once the system is in place, ideally. But to keep smaller leagues like the MAC, WAC and Mountain West and others invested; setting up a possibility for them to play with the big boys is key. Under the dying BCS system; there is no denying the unfair scrutiny that a “mid-major” team faced. But under the new system; if Central Florida wins in the SEC; they will get the same shot as Alabama. Which is the shot they deserve. Much like in NCAA Basketball where everyone who gets into the tournament has a shot.
Not sure if anyone would buy into this. It would take a lot of tweaking. But this is a place to start. It would also warrant a holistic view. Making decisions like MAC partners with BIG 10 would have to be looked at in full. I haven’t ever laid out the all the teams and where they belong. So this is just a “spit-balling” start point.