This is the end of college football as we know it.
So we've been told repeatedly after the Big Ten added USC and UCLA on June 30; a move that pushed the sport one step closer to the super conference model. The belief is going to transform a regional sport into a national brand with a watered-down version of the NFL.
This board-room, TV-driven, cross-county hostile takeovers seemingly has ripped the soul out of a sport that relies on fight songs, tradition, home crowds and irreplaceable college game-day feels from Eugene to Gainesville.
Maybe this is the end, and that's … fine? To quote "Wall Street" – "Greed is good."
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The truth is the sport went corporate when the Bowl Championship Series started in 1998. The super conference model will better serve the audience. There is only one region that has dominated college football since the BCS era started anyway. Arkansas State Red Wolves Jerseys
I'm all in on the changes. It's inevitable, and it's going to push the sport to the next chapter. The only question is how many super conferences are formed. It could be one that is similar Michigan vs. Ohio State Rivalry Gear to the Champions League in soccer. It could be the SEC and Big Ten in a two-team model. A four-league model that includes a Pac-12/Big 12 mashup and an ACC that adds Notre Dame once and for all also is a possibility.
It will be good for the game. Here is the prospectus for what the super conference model is going to bring college football in the future:
A new order
Fox analyst Joel Klatt spelled out what these latest moves mean for the sport.
It is incredibly hard to see right now, in particular if you're team is outside SEC or Big 10, but the long term outlook for fans is a good one…We will look back on these times as the moves that shaped a better post-season, mo Florida vs. Georgia Rivalry Jerseys re quality non-con games, & stronger governance
— Joel Klatt (@joelklatt) July 5, 2022
The easy pushback on Klatt is he works for one of the networks poised to make millions off the TV deals, but he's righ Dayton Flyers shirt t. Name, Image and Likeness was a game-changer. The transfer portal rules are comparable to NFL free agency. Go back to 2020 during COVID-19 when the 10 conferences couldn't come up with a uniform schedule model and the confusing season that followed.
The organization must be better.
BENDER: Sorting through Notre Dame's realignment options
The conference raids and eventual mergers are pointing to the two super conference model – with the Big Ten in the role of the NFC and the SEC playing the AFC. The four-conference model, with the ACC, Big Ten, Big 12/Pac-12 and SEC also makes sense, but that would be reshuffling the current Power 5. The SEC and Big Ten feel more like a Power 2 at this point, and everybody wants a chair in those two conferences.
Perhaps those schools – a number that ranges anywhere from 40 to 64 – do their own thing and break away from the NCAA. That has been speculated on for years. Those outside the Big Ten and SEC cannot feign surprise if it does indeed happen.
That doesn't mean the schools left behind or the Group of 5 schools don't matter. In the super conference model, however, the reality is some of those G5 schools are not going to be able to keep up with the arms race. Fans would still watch FBS-Division II or FBS-Division III. Whatever you want to call it.
In the new world order, some division lines are necessary.
A better regular season
College football holds the regular season to be sacred, but the value of that regular season has changed in the College Football Playoff era. Alabama, Ohio State and Georgia have made the CFP without winning conference titles, and the Crimson Tide and Bulldogs have taken that route to national championships.
MORE: What's next for conference realignment?
Super conferences, with super conference exclusive scheduling, would be more entertaining than the current setup.
There are countle WVU vs. Pitt Rivalry Gear ss examples fans would cite here, but I always go back to Oct. 31, 2009. Ohio State beat New Mexico State 45-0 at Ohio Stadium, but it was worse than that. The Aggies were out-gained 559-62, averaged 1.5 yards per pass and had two first downs in the loss. There was no earthly reason for that football game to happen.
Yet that's not even the most-frequent type of blowout. In the CFP era, 73 games have been decided by 60 points or more. A total of 51 of those games involved an FCS opponent on the losing end.
60-point blowouts since 2014
|Power 5 vs. FCS||30|
|Group of 5 vs. FCS||19|
|Power 5 vs. Power 5||11|
|Power 5 vs. Group of 5||8|
|Group of 5 vs. Group of 5||3|
|Independent vs. FCS||2|
There is no reason for a Power 5 team to play an FCS school. If the super conferences want to schedule one or two games against a G5 opponent, then that's fine. Then play a nine- or 10-game conference schedule within the schedule.
The rea Notre Dame vs. USC Rivalry Gear lignment creates more rivalries, too. Ohio State-USC is going to be a thing again. Texas-Texas A&M is going to be a thing again. A few more will pop up with the next chess moves, but it's not like the classic rivalries will go away. The Iron Bowl, Egg Bowl and everything else that makes Rivalry Weekend special is not going to change, even if the stakes are a little bit different.
A better playoff
So, who really is happy with the current playoff format outside of places such as Tuscaloosa and Columbus?
Six schools – Alabama, Clemson, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Georgia and Notre Dame – have combined for 23 of 32 playoff appearances. Anybody who uses the "college football is cyclical" motto hasn't watched these schools dominate the sport on the field in their conference and off it through national recruiting.
We don't need super conferences to create a better CFP, but the creation of super conferences will allow that to happen more organically because more teams will be involved every year.
The hypothetical models are interesting.
Let's do the Big Ten vs. SEC super conference model. Let's say both teams expand to 20 to 24 teams. Theoretically, each conference could have its own six-team playoff and the winners meet in the College Football Playoff championship. A four super conference model would also make creating a 12-team playoff easier. You take the four conference championships and eight at-large teams.
The goal here should be to create something that generates as much excitement as the NFL playoffs, which is a much better model at this point. Last year's NFL divisional playoff weekend, where four games were decided by a combined 12 points, flexed that league's power.
The college version of that would be off the charts exciting, and more teams will be involved. The playoff races will be the intrigue of the regular season, and one September loss won't eliminate your school.
If you don't make the playoff, then you can still play in a bowl game. Yes, it will feel like NFL Lite at first. But it's better for college football to be progressive than retroactive with its postseason.
A true national champion
Is this the best route to decide a national champion?
Consider the past alternatives. Should college football move backward to the pre-BCS setup in a world where we have split national championships? That happened three times in the 1990s with Colorado and Georgia Tech (1990), Miami and Washington (1991) and Michigan and Nebraska (1997).
Should we go back to the BCS, where a computer decided college football's fate every year? It did get the two best teams in the championship game more often than not, but it also was a world where an Auburn team that finished 12-0 and won the SEC did not get a shot at the national championship. There also was a split national championship between USC and LSU in 2003.
The thing about the Super Bowl is there is never a debate about a Wild Card team making a run to the championship. The NFL added a second Wild Card in 1978, and 10 teams have won the Super Bowl from that spot since. If there is a 12-team playoff in CFP, then there will be no debate about the national championship.
That is how it should be.
A new generation of fans
Are super conferences heartless?
Well, yeah. The biggest downside of the super conference model is the charm that will be ripped out of those places where college football became special in that generation. West Virginia, Texas Tech and Washington State are among the handful of schools who have had long-standing traditions. Utah and TCU have climbed up the ranks through BCS era success. Even schools such as UCF and Cincinnati have used CFP era success to make the jump to the Big 12.
Are these the schools that get left out? This is the price of admission for super conference football.
This is the tough part. It's OK to stay all in. I love college football nostalgia as much as anyone. I loved the original ESPN2 production. I played "Bill Walsh College Football" on Sega Genesis. I speak fluent Keith Jackson. I remember which spot on the couch I was sitting on when Notre Dame beat Florida State in the Game of the Century in Arkansas Tech Jerseys 1993 – a year in which the Seminoles still won the national championship.
Despite all those memories, you cannot explain a split national championship to your kids. There also is more competition for this generation's short attention span in the social media era, and that will be worth watching this year in particular.
Why? The World Cup Blinn College Buccaneers shirt begins on Nov. 18, and that's up against Rivalry Week in college football. Team USA plays England on Black Friday, and it will be interesting to see how the TV ratings reflect where the national sports conscience gravitates that week. College football has a foothold, but it also has flaws that will impact the next generation of viewers.
Is it easier to watch a two-hour soccer match than a fo Michigan vs. Ohio State Rivalry shirt ur-hour college football game? That is the long game that college football can still win with the right model.
Super conferences will ensure t Davidson Wildcats clothes hat spot in the pecking order, and the product will turn that greed into something good. College football as we know it might end.
But the new beginning is worth waiting for. It will be just fine.