Georgia Football: The Conference Realignment Plan that Puts UGA in the ACC
Chip Brown, over at scout.com, released a long-form piece on the next steps in conference realignment. This is just his opinion so to call it a ‘plan’ is probably a bit much. Still, he’s come up with an entire schematic for how the power five conferences could basically combine into one giant behemoth in order to negotiate one (yes, ONE) TV deal with the networks.
That’s, by far, the best food for thought from his entire article — can you imagine the value of a single-TV contract that would get you access to the broadcast rights of ALL Power 5 conference games? We’re talking billions of dollars.
After that the plan goes way the hell off the rails.
Brown attempts the thing we’ve all tried at least once, and by “we” I mean college football nerds with way too much time on our hands. He tries to do away with conference affiliations all together and focus on reducing a ballooning schedule while also creating ‘divisions’ within the Power 5 that make sense.
Here’s his plan:
– Power 5 condenses into two mega conferences that each have three divisions.
– The playoff jumps from 4 teams to 16 teams.
– The regular season is bumped down to 11 games.
– You play every team in your division once every year
– You schedule one non-conference opponent every year.
– The top two teams from each division go to the Playoff (12) plus wildcard teams (4).
The biggest moment of insanity in the plan comes, however, when Brown actually tries to get this leviathan dissected into divisions.
Here’s his Western Conference (Pac-12, Big 12, Big Ten):
|West Division||Central Division||Midwest Division|
Note: I made up the division names so don’t judge Brown for my names.
Apart from leaving the entire state of Kansas out of his Western Conference and forcing the Texas schools to travel to Arizona every year, this isn’t all that bad. You’ll notice that it keeps great rivalries together (hi, Texas and A&M!) while also making much more geographic sense (Texas doesn’t travel to West Virginia anymore).
The Eastern Conference, however, (SEC, ACC, American Conference) goes HAM.
|Auburn||Florida State||Penn State|
|Ole Miss||Georgia||West Virginia|
|Miss State||Georgia Tech||Boston College|
|Kansas||North Carolina St||Maryland|
Yeah, that’s right. Florida and Georgia wake up one morning to realize the SEC has dumped them to the ACC in favor of the Kansas schools and Clemson.
Here’s the main problem I have with this plan (apart from the obvious): Brown doesn’t actually fix the geography problems, at least not in any real way. For example, he puts Arkansas back in the pool with the Texas schools but somehow leaves Mizzou in with most of the Southeast, not to mention the fact that Alabama now plays Kansas every year.
The rivalry problems are also huge. Tennessee would no longer play Vandy. Georgia would no longer play Auburn. USC would no longer play Notre Dame. That is, unless these schools scheduled one another as their sole non-conference game, which they have no incentive to do since everyone will be scheduling cupcakes to cut down on attrition.
Still, this plan would make a lot of money. Nobody doubts that. The real problem is that College Football is a game bound hand-and-foot to its traditions. Without those traditions all of that bottom line won’t go out the window entirely but it will slow because of people genuinely angry at outside tampering. Georgia-Auburn, the Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry, would be lost to corporate interest, something I don’t think either side would ever allow to happen.
An interesting model that I’m sure I’ll try one of these days is to take Brown’s basic idea — use the super-conference model to reduce the number of regular season games and fix some ridiculous geographic problems that realignment has already caused — but allow yourself more teams per division so that, yanno, UGA and Florida can stay in the SEC.
Still, that’s an article for another day. Right now, at least, it seems the more likely outcome of a new season of realignment would be the Power 5 adding more teams to its current structure.