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Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Football

A national conference realignment, once and for all


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Graphic by Courtney Williams

Following the 2013 season, when college football moved from the Bowl Championship Series to the College Football Playoffs, fans and pundits alike lauded the move as a step in the right direction.

But while installing a playoff system was the right choice, a four-team playoff simply isn’t sufficient for the new world of college football.

There is debate about which teams should and should not make it into the college football playoff, and with five power conferences and four spots, it creates the chance for some major problems.

In part one of a three-week series, we’ll take a look at a hypothetical resolution to a real problem: realigning the Power 5 conferences into four super conferences while adding a few more teams to the mix.

This week will focus on the basics of the realignment and the criteria used to select the teams.

SOUTH_realignment

Graphic by Courtney Williams

Power 4 conferences

For the new “Power 4” conferences, I took all of the teams from the current Power 5, which came out to 64 teams in total.

While that’s a nice, round number, it was omitting big teams in college football like Notre Dame and BYU, two teams who currently are independents.

Including those two, the total is 66 teams, and it shouldn’t stop there.  Round numbers are easier to deal with, so making it 72 picking from the best of the “Group of Five” teams resolves the issue.

WEST_realignment

Graphic by Courtney Williams

Criteria for selecting the last six teams

The first team that came to mind among teams from the “Group of Five” conferences was Boise State.

The Broncos were the original BCS busters, and it is a team that consistently over-achieves by most standards.

But where do you go from there? The next best conference: the American Athletic Conference.

The past three seasons, the American has been the best conference not in the P5 designation.

As I see it, there are six teams from the AAC in contention for a spot in the new Power 4, but to stick with a round 72 teams, we can only choose five.

After deliberation, Navy, Cincinnati, Temple, UCF and Houston were picked as the five best teams to join the new highest division of play.

The one team left behind was the University of Memphis.

EAST_realignment

Graphic by Courtney Williams

Its record over the last two seasons in the AAC has been good, with 19 wins compared to seven losses, but with head coach Justin Fuente leaving to coach at Virginia Tech and quarterback Paxton Lynch entering the NFL Draft, the immediate future of the program is hard to decipher.

And of the six teams from the American in contention for the final five spots, the Tigers had the worst combined record over the past 10 seasons of all the programs.

Memphis won just 46 games over the past decade against 78 losses.

Temple was the closest team to Memphis in combined record, with 58 wins and 66 loses over the last 10 seasons.

So adding those five teams from the AAC brings the total number up to 72 teams, my perfect number for a Power 4 conference situation.

Having a total of 72 teams for four conferences ensures each conference and division is balanced, securing easier scheduling.

CENTRAL_realignment

Graphic by Courtney Williams

Those teams are organized by geographical location, as much as possible.

Attempts were also made to ensure rivals were kept in the same conference to maintain some intrigue and tradition.

We have four major conferences: The West, Central, East and South. Those conferences are further broken down into two 9-team divisions, with scheduling rotating through three phases: inter-division games, intra-division games and intra-conference games.

Next week, we’ll look at how those conferences are organized and a new scheduling format for the regular season.

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