Photo: Wikimedia Commons
We are nearly a month into the 2011 college football season, and the biggest topic is not what is happening on the field, but where schools are going off of it.And while these moves are for the most part just a “money grab,” and made out of fear of being left out, moving to four or five super conferences does have its positives.
1. The weaker schools will be in a division where they can compete: There are 120 Division 1 college football teams. And yet, the same 30-40 teams are in the top 25 every season. The sole purpose for the existence of the San Jose States and the Eastern Michigans is to serve as an early season scrimmage and collect the half-million paycheck that comes along with that. These schools do not have the same resources or means as the bigger schools and there is no reason to think they will ever be able to compete with the big boys.
2. Regional conferences is an antiquated idea: There are currently 11 conferences in FBS, and all of these were created to include schools in a particular region. And most of these conference boundaries were formed when teams still used trains to get from one venue to another. They were also formed when college football was a regional sport and a person living on the east coast never got to watch a Pac-whatever team play. We have already seen these boundaries grow with schools like TCU moving to the Big East and Colorado moving to the Pac-12. And we will see more as conferences look to move into new television markets. Bringing big time college football programs to more fans in a broader area is not a bad thing.
3. Independents will be forced to join a conference: When the super conferences are fully formed, they will dictate who plays in the BCS bowl games. And they are not going to give up one of those valuable spots just because some independent school occasionally has a good season. What incentive is there to give Notre Dame an automatic qualification into the postseason dance, if Notre Dame is not offering anything in return? And really, the billions of dollars now being handed to conferences for the right televise their games removes the one advantage Notre Dame had as an independent. And if Notre Dame no longer has an advantage, neither does BYU or the service academies.
4. One step closer to a playoff: A lot of people think we are heading to four super conferences with 64 schools. That still seems a bit extreme. Five conferences with 80 teams seems to make more sense. And from there a playoff will just be a matter of time. Once those conferences take shape, the next step will be a BCS division, where the five conference champs plus the next 11 teams in the rankings will compete in a 16-team playoff (an 8-team playoff would be better but conferences will balk because they will want more teams in the dance). Come to think of it. This reason alone is why super conferences need to happen. If that is what it takes to get the fans a playoff, then let’s make it happen.
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