Loose Ends

This is Part VII of an eight-part article. The other parts are linked below:
Part I: Intro
Part II: Why G5 schools will be included in Division IV
Part III: Why Larger Conferences is the Way to Go
Part IV: Building the Big Ten
Part V: Building the SEC
Part VI: Independence Based Conference Scheduling (IBCS)
Part VII: Building the Group of Four (G4)
Part VIII: Loose Ends

Will the Division (D4) teams be allowed to play non-D4 teams?
Should programs like Ole Miss will be allowed to play Southern Mississippi? Should Costal Carolina being allowed to play South Carolina? That is subjective based on what the schools would want to do. You could argue that the SEC/Big Ten schools are better off biting the bullet and embracing a “D4 only” philosophy. However the same can’t be said for the Group of Four schools. There are rivalries between the Group of Four (G4) and the FBS teams that did not make D4 that should be continued. The prime example of this is Cincinnati-Miami (OH).

The setup that I like best would be a levels system. The SEC/Big Ten can only play schools from the G4, whereas the G4 can only play FBS programs.

How many conference games will be played each season?
With conferences expanding to 28 teams, the need for out-of-conference (OOC) slots decreases. To accommodate OOC rivalries that would still exist (Oklahoma-Nebraska) there should be two OOC slots a season. The first OOC slot allows for annual rivalry games to be played. The second slot gives programs with an annual OOC rivalry the chance to have a degree of alteration in their OOC slate.

Will the regular season be expanded?
Unfortunately this idea is dead on arrival due to concerns about the academic calendar. The college administrators would love a 13th regular season game, however it’s a classic case of wanting all the benefits of something, but not the consequences that come with it.

The 13th regular season game is not going to happen, but an additional game could be added. It will just have to be added in the postseason in the form of a second bowl game.

This bowl game will actually be played before the traditional bowl season, during “Champions Week” when conference championship games are normally being played. While the two best teams from the Big Ten (or SEC) are slugging it out, Big Ten teams that did not make the championship game can pair up and play. The only rule is that the matchups must not have already occurred in the regular season.

The matchups can be determined by their overall, or conference records. For example matching up the third and fourth best Big Ten teams if they haven’t played yet. Or it can be determined by rivalries. For example, if Michigan and Wisconsin haven’t played each other in a while they can use this bowl game to continue their rivalry. Either philosophy works, and the most likely scenario is to use a combination of both philosophies.

The purpose of having two bowls is to have one be an in-conference matchup, while allowing for OOC bowl games as well. While this idea may sound bizarre, it has one huge advantage. It prevents scenarios such as 2011 Michigan State from happening.

For those of you who don’t know in 2011 after playing in the Big Ten Championship game and losing by three points, the Spartans were knocked out of a BCS bowl in favor of Michigan. The Spartans were essentially penalized for losing a close game to a quality opponent, whereas the Wolverines were rewarded for staying home.

The thought process for college football is that not playing a game is better than a “quality loss.” That is a mentality that is stuck with college football despite the implementation of the College Football Playoffs. To prevent a possible controversy like 2011 Michigan State, this extra bowl game will guarantee that every team plays the same amount of games before the playoffs.

How many conference games does the G4 play?
I prefer a 9 + 1 setup. Every G4 team plays their conference round robin, and one opponent from the other three G4 conferences. You could also use a 9+2 setup and the 2nd bowl game from above to guarantee that Boise State for example plays one team each from the SWC, MWC, and AAC.

It is all subjective based on the two playoff options. Do you want to embrace the G4 as four conferences of ten, or one large conference of 40?

What dictates bowl eligibility?
With strength of schedule (SOS) going up, it would make sense to remove limits on bowl eligibility due to record. There are enough bowl slots for 2/3 of D4. Big Ten/SEC teams will likely receive bowl invitations despite having a losing record. However the same cannot be said for the G4.

What about Notre Dame and the Service academies?
Notre Dame and the three service academies are the only schools whose rivalries get messed with in this setup. One way to fix this would be to grant a “Hawaii exemption” to the three service academies. Teams that play at Hawaii are granted one additional game. If the same policy can be applied to the service academies, then these rivalries can be kept without having teams locked into the same OCC schedule each year. The obvious rule to this exemption is that it can not be used more than once a season.

Will the playoffs be expanded?
With or without a D4 the playoffs will be expanded. The only reason I didn’t expand the playoffs in this setup was to show how D4 is compatible with the current system.

Can Texas/Arizona leave without Arizona State/Texas Tech?
In conference realignment a program can circumvent the politicians if they act quickly enough or take advantage of an opening that appears. The prime example is Texas A&M being in the SEC without any other Texas schools.

In the past, politicians were focused on keeping Baylor and Texas Tech with Texas and Texas A&M. Now that the Aggies and Longhorns are in different conferences, the political landscape has changed. Now the biggest concern in Texas is bringing their two best state schools together.

With Arizona-Arizona State there is still a strong connection between the two. Arizona politicians could attempt to hold Arizona hostage and tell the Big Ten they must take both. The problem for Arizona is that the Big Ten would never concede to those demands. Arizona politicians will be forced to accept the fact that they can save either one school or neither. Kansas politicians will be facing this same dilemma as well.

What about basketball and baseball/softball?
This is the hardest question to answer. The problem with these three sports is the scheduling mentality varies greatly among multiple programs. Some have a strong connection with regional schools in these sports. Others could care less if they stop playing regional rivals. Because of this I couldn’t even determine what would be an appropriate number of conference games. The best approach would be to implement a setup similar to Independence Based Conference Scheduling (IBCS) as described in Part VI. Part VI: Independence Based Conference Scheduling (IBCS)

The NCAA tournaments in these sports will be kept the same.

What about other non-revenue sports?
Sports such as Lacrosse are the biggest winners. These sports will see a huge membership boost for their conference. Gone are the days of conferences in these sports being just 5-7 teams. We will now see the majority of non-revenue sports having 12 or more members. The influx of football money will also

The big loser here is the Pac-12 schools who will have huge travel increases in these sports. The benefit of additional money helps ease the financial burden of this. However it still is a tough burden for these schools to carry.

Will these be the actual conference names?

They don’t have to be. The Big Ten could rename themselves the Big 28 or the Big North. The SEC could rename themselves the Big South or the Southern Conference, although both names are already in use.

The G4 could rename themselves something that sounds “national” such as the American or Conference-USA. The term “Big 40” could also work save for a drinking joke or two. Of the four names for the ten-team divisions, only one of them is being used by another conference. The names as they stand now could be changed to Eastern, Central, Mountain, and Western.

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© sportspolitico™ August 14, 2014

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