Tick Tock

It's Time for CFB Relegation

September 17, 2019 - 10:55 am

Is this the real life? Is this just fantasy?

To be honest, this concept as churned my stomach until this point. I’ve vehemently fought against this idea as “un-American”. But after watching the first three weeks of 2019 college football, I’m all in on relegation.

Relegation is a merit-based conference inclusion method that would allow over-performing “lower level” schools an opportunity to come up to a power 5 league and force under-performing “top tier” programs back down, giving them time to figure things out.

Previously (to quote Ben Stiller as Tug Speedman as Four Leaf Tayback), I would’ve said “I got…I g…I got a baaaad feeling about this”; mostly because it introduces chaos and instability into one of the only stable elements of college football, annual scheduling. I would've also said, if you’re a Georgia Southern, for example, you have a couple of good years, and get called up how do you really hope to win enough games in your first year or two in the penthouse to stay there?

After watching supposed power 5 teams struggle, I mean struh-gul it’s evident Tennessee, Rutgers, UCLA, Kansas, and others need time to figure it out. Give them an opportunity to get up off the mat, clean house, and start over with an opportunity to WIN in an easier league. In the mean time, why not bring better programs like UCF, App State, Cincinnati, Boise State, and San Diego State up to P5"I" (the I is for interim) status? Those programs are already performing at a high level. Add a sudden influx of P5 money and watch them flourish.

So how would this look? Easy…first, re-align the Group of 5 conferences (looking at you CUSA and Sunbelt) in common-sense geographically tight footprints, pair each one with a P5, Bob’s your uncle, and away we go. MW with the Pac-12, MAC with the Big10, AAC with the SEC, Sunbelt/CUSA west with the Big12, and Sunbelt/CUSA east with the ACC. Imagine swapping Wake Forest for App State, UCF for Vanderbilt, Boise State for UCLA, UAB for Kansas, and the MAC’s best for Rutgers. Mack Brown himself said “App State could compete in the ACC” in his Monday press conference after their week 3 loss to Wake Forest.

I don’t pretend to know the ins and outs of European soccer relegation rules as there are 8 levels, but basically the worst 3 teams in level 1 are automatically relegated to level 2. The top 2 teams automatically move up to level 1 and the next 4 have a playoff to see who gets the third spot. Does the fact that college football programs are primarily supported by alumni and fan donations complicate things? Maybe. But theoretically relegation could have major positive effects that could out-weigh the negative ones.

Relegation actually encourages and rewards positive performance. Work hard, build your program into a power and you can actually get ahead. Isn’t that what America is all about? Relegation incentivizes good G5 coaches to stay at their G5 schools. Sure P5s will always come a-callin’ but what if Neil Brown had in his contract “get us to a P5 and there’s a $1 million bonus in it for you”. Would he have still chosen to go to West Virginia? A lot of P5 fans will say nay…mostly because they’re afraid of what could happen if they have a couple down seasons, but the truth is…if you're that bad wouldn't you want a couple seasons where you can crush weaker teams and get back to the show? And besides, if you don’t want to get relegated…try harder. And besides, if you’re not good enough as a “power” school to stay a power school against the lowly “group-ers” do you really deserve that status anyway?

Caught in a landslide, no escape from reality.

B-b-b-but what about TV contracts? Introduce instability and they’ll dry up. Why? ESPN is paying millions of dollars annually for Alabama, LSU, and Georgia, not Vanderbilt and Arkansas (sorry Josh Phillips). Once the suits get over the idea of instability and get behind the idea of strengthening their product, they’ll be fine. A-a-a-and what about traditional rivalries? Really? If you're an SEC fan the only reason you like curb stomping Vandy is for no other reason than familiarity.

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