The process of finding a NCAA Football Bowl Division (still D-1A to me) national champion has been the subject of endless debates. Well, I have found the solution! With conference re-alignment, the desire for a playoff, and complaints by small schools that they have no chance, I believe I have come up with the perfect system to end those arguments. Starting in 2012, there will be 120 D-1A schools. The first thing I would do is establish four “super” conferences made up of 16 teams and two divisions. After that, take the remaining 56 teams and divide them into four 14 team conferences also with two divisions.
Let me start with the 16 team conferences. This would essentially be the Big 16 (formerly the Big 10), the Pac-16 (currently the Pac-12), the SEC, and the ACC. Take the teams currently in the Big 12 and the Big East and place them in the conference that makes the most geographical sense. Have a typical 12 game regular season, play 7 games against in division teams, two more against teams in the other division in the conference, and 3 games open to out of conference rivals, or cupcake games. The winner of each division face of in conference championship games just as we have today. The four winners of the conferences meet in a plus one playoff setup. More on the bowl games later.
Now, for the 14 team leagues, have each of them tied to a 16 team league. The Mountain West tied to the Pac-16, MAC to the Big 16, etc. Have them play the 6 games against each division team, 3 against the other division, and 3 against non-conference opponents. Here is where it gets fun, especially if you are a European soccer fan. Have the winner of each division earn promotion to the super conference they are tied to. Take the second place of each division and have them play a bowl game against each other to earn a third promotion spot.
So, who would get relegated in this scenario? Simple, the bottom team in each super conference division is sent down. The third spot is decided by the second to last team in each division facing off in a one game playoff; winner stays up, on Heisman Saturday. This would allow a station like ESPN to own that Saturday, have four games that actually mean something, lead up to a Heisman presentation.
How would the bowls work? Simple, just like they do today. You have a .500 or better overall record, you are eligible for a bowl game. There are 35 games this year; you simply have conference ties to each intermediate bowl game. But in this setup, those bowl games would actually draw more attention. Why wouldn’t a Washington State fan, whose team just avoided relegation, watch a bowl game featuring Fresno State who just earned promotion knowing that is going to be a team they will be battling the next year to stay in the super conference? Boise State, you want to complain about not getting a shot at a national championship? Build a squad that will get promotion, and then earn a national championship bid by winning a super conference.
But there are four BCS games; this format only feeds two games. True, but who is really making a point to watch Michigan-Virginia Tech or West Virginia-Clemson this year? There are always two games that nobody cares about each year, but now the conference championship game losers still make a BCS game which would create much better matchups than whatever team from the Big East currently makes it. Keep conference ties too. Pac and Big 16, you get the Fiesta and Rose Bowls with them alternating years between the runners up and the conference champions. Sugar and Orange, you get the SEC and ACC, again alternating. The ACC champ faces the SEC champ with the winner going to the National Championship Game, and the same for the Big 16 champ and the Pac-16 champ with the four BCS bowl sites alternating the National Championship Game just as they do today.
Now, I would have listened to arguments about how this would kill non-revenue sports, but as you can already see with college basketball, they are starting to just ignore football conference affiliations, so this re-alignment only applies to football.