by John Furgele
Each day, there are reports of conference expansion and conference jumping. One day, it’s Boise State going here, Central Florida there. The Big East is expanding, folding, crumbling, merging, you name it, we’ve heard it. To me, the solution is simple. Let’s get all the conference commissioners together and has everything out.
There are 11 Division 1 FBS conferences in the United States. Six are members of the coveted BCS, meaning its champions and possibly a second team get to play in the juicy and big BCS bowl games. For the reamining five, you basically have to go undefeated and finish in the top 12 of the BCS standings. If you do that, you get to play in a BCS bowl.
It’s a flawed system to be sure, and each day, speculation looms over the great game of college football. The college football season is like no other. Short, sweet, but always riveting, but over the past two years, talk of the conference realignment has taken away from the always great storylines that are college football.
Look at TCU. A year ago, they were the BCS busters. They went 12-0, landed in the Rose Bowl and beat Big Ten champion Wisconsin to cap a perfect season and the number two ranking. They were also frustrated, so they joined the Big East conference, knowing that all they had to do was win the conference—not go undefeated—to land a BCS bowl game.
A funny thing then happened. Realignment. The Big 12 one day, the Big East the next. Texas A&M joins the SEC, Oklahoma and Texas threaten to go somewhere else. With the Big East on shaky ground, TCU decided to leave a conference it hadn’t officially joined to play in the Big 12 conference.
This is nothing more than ridiculous. Everybody is scared, nobody wants to be left out, so each day, everybody is courting each other, for nothing more than security purposes. The answer is simple. Get together and hold a draft and get everything in place. The inevitable is this: there will be four 16 team “superconferences,” totaling 64 teams. These will be the BCS leagues, with automatic berths to BCS bowls and hopefully, in the future, a legitimate playoff system. The remaining 56 or 58 schools (I have lost track) will form the other conferences such as the MAC, Sun Belt, Mountain West, Conference USA and WAC. Right now, there are 66 BCS schools, so having the “4-16,” would force two current BCS schools to drop to non AQ status, hence the fear. Of course, you could have one 18 team conference—why is 16 the magic number—or you could do what Conference USA and the Mountain West are doing and that is to merge for a championship game, but stay seperate for the regular season and scheduling purposes.
A big meeting could get everything on the table and provide much needed security for the future of college football. We all know that the regular season is the best of all the sports, and the postseason is the worst. And, this is coming from somebody who likes the bowl games. But, as nice as it is to see a 8-4 team get to play an extra game, a playoff would drip with excitement and would make the sport more money than it could ever imagine. That day will come, because both ADs and college trustees have seen how much money can be made and it is substantially more than what the current bowl game driven system delivers.
Have the meeting, bring some sanity back to college football. Yes, there will be some hurt, some pain, some hard feelings and yes, perhaps Baylor and Vanderbilt get dropped tp Conference USA, but let’s not have this ruin the sport. And, sorry Big East fans, your conference shouldn’t make it. I don’t rate the Big East much better than Conference USA and from top to bottom, the Mountain West is probably a better conference, and heck, even the MAC is closer to the Big East than the Big East is to the SEC. Syracuse got an officials break to beat MAC school Toledo, how would they do at Alabama?
Adding Navy, Air Force, Boise State and Central Florida does not enhance your football profile. Navy is nothing more than a 1-AA program in disguise and Boise State could probably do much better if they hold out (Big 12). Just because the Big East adds for survival, doesn’t mean it should retain an automatic BCS bowl berth.
They can get this done, but it has to be sooner than later. The game is too good to suffer because of it.