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Relegation will save college football

The college football playoff is an incredible step up from the BCS era, but it is still far from a perfect system. After all, there are 10 conferences in college football but only 4 spots. We have already seen a school like UCF have an undefeated season but get left out because only 5 conference actually matter. So already half of the FBS teams are disqualified from EVER winning a national championship just based upon the conference they are stuck in. As things stand now, perpetually irrelevant schools such as Vanderbilt and Illinois are eligible for the playoff but relative powerhouses like Boise State and UCF aren’t. That just doesn’t sit well with me, but what is the answer?

Well, it’s about time to look across the pond. The English Football League has a system of relegations and promotions between the Premier League and the Championship League where the bottom performing teams drop out of the Premier League while the best of the Championship League would take their place.

A similar system could work in college football by pairing up the Power-5 conferences with a Group-of-5 conference. While the idea of these smaller schools being successful against the big boys of the Power-5 may seem foreign, it wasn’t that long ago that TCU made waves after joining the Big 12 in 2012. The proposed pairings below were based upon the geographic locations the conferences:

  • The ACC and the American
  • The Big 10 and the MAC
  • The Pac-12 and the Mountain West
  • The SEC and Conference-USA
  • The Big 12 and the Sun Belt

These pairings presented some interesting new conference matchups when using the the 2018 standings as an example.

From the ACC to the American: Louisville (0-8) and UNC (1-7)

Gone are the days of Lamar Jackson and Mitch Trubisky and this pair of basketball powerhouses have returned to football irrelevance. With one combined conference win, the ACC is better off without these duds dragging down conference.

From the American to the ACC: UCF (8-0) and Temple (7-1)

UCF has outgrown the American, going 16-0 over the past two seasons. But what most don’t realize is they have gone 3-1 against Power-5 opponents in that span, including a Peach Bowl victory over Auburn. Joining UCF is a Temple team that makes its return to major conference football since leaving the Big East (#RIP) in 2012.

From the Pac-12 to the Mountain West: Oregon State (1-8) and Colorado (2-7)

Oregon State was the worst Power-5 team in college football last year. The Beavers won only 2 games, one against FCS Southern Utah and one against Colorado. Those loses include one game to an average Nevada team out of the Mountain West. Colorado should feel lucky just to keep a football team. The Buffaloes have 3 winning seasons in 15 years. The Pac-12 has an important role in American Sports to entertain those of us that are already drunk at 12:30am on Sunday morning on the east coast and neither of these teams fills that role.

From the Mountain West to the Pac-12: Fresno State (7-1) and Boise State (7-1)

Fresno State was one heck of a program last year. The Bulldogs went 2-0 against Pac-12 teams, winning 38-14 at UCLA and 31-20 against Arizona State during the Las Vegas Bowl. The only teams to beat Fresno last season? Minnesota (Big 10) and fellow promotee Boise State. The Broncos have long been a fan-favorite because of the “Smurf Turf” they play their home games on, but Boise State has been one of the most consistent programs in college football. The Broncos have been bowl eligible every season since 1997.

From the Big 10 to the MAC: Rutgers (0-9) and Illinois (2-7)

Rutgers won only a single game last season, against the traditional powerhouse that is Texas State. In fact, the Scarlet Knights got crushed against their only MAC opponent, Buffalo, by 29 points. It’s time to get Rutgers the heck out of the Big 10. Illinois was supposed to turn around when they hired former Chicago Bears head coach Lovie Smith and were finally rewarded with their best finish since 2015. They finished 4-8. Please leave.

From the MAC to the Big 10: Buffalo (7-1) and Northern Illinois (6-2)

Both representatives from the MAC have produced more memorable NFL talent than their Big 10 counterparts recently. Buffalo, home of Khalil Mack, took the MAC by storm last year in what was more likely a flash in the pan. However, they were still beat than Rutgers, so that’s a win for the relegation system. Northern Illinois, home of Paxton Lynch, likely wouldn’t fair much better in the Big 10. However, think back to the days where Western Michigan was rowing their boats to the Cotton Bowl and dream of what could have been.

From the SEC to Conference-USA: Arkansas (0-8) and Ole Miss (1-7)

The Razorbacks have one conference win in the past 2 seasons (Ole Miss in 2017) and lost to the aforementioned powerhouse North Texas. Arkansas has the feel of a school that should compete more often than it does, but they just haven’t been close to competing in the SEC since 2011. Ole Miss is still feeling the pain of NCAA sanctions and is 3-10 against ranked teams since 2016. Both programs could benefit from building confidence in Conference-USA before making a comeback.

From the Big 12 to the Sun Belt: Kansas (1-8) and Oklahoma State (3-6)

In a conference most well known for offense, the Jayhawks elected to not have one. Their 23.8 points/game was 106 out of 130 eligible schools, lowest in the Big 12. This feels like beating a dead horse, but the school hasn’t been to a bowl game in 10 years and didn’t win a single game in 2015. The school devotes so much of its resources to basketball, you have to question why they wouldn’t want to move down. Oklahoma State actually won the Liberty Bowl but still gets relegated due to an atrocious conference record. Just imagine the drama that would unfold after the Cowboys get sent down after going 4-1 against ranked teams? It would be electric.

There are several roadblocks in the way of this new, glorious system. The perpetual cellar dwellers would undoubtedly throw a fit to keep their share of Power-5 revenue. The smaller conferences would fight tooth-and-nail to keep their autonomy. Notre Dame would have to finally join a fucking conference. But the benefit to implementing relegation by far outways the challenges. Let’s make it happen.


Photo: And The Valley Shook

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