Pat Forde Realigns College Football

A couple of days ago, a reader asked in a comment to the daily rant if I had any comment on Pat Forde’s radical suggestion to restructure college football.  I did not at the time for the simple reason that I had not seen it, but now I have and so I will comment.

Forde’s article appears on  In the broadest overview, he proposes limiting “Division 1 College Football” to 120 teams that are regionally organized into 12 conferences of 10 teams each.  Every one of the current football conferences is shattered in his proposed realignment and he proposes that 11 of the current teams in what we call “FBS Football” are relegated/demoted to “FCS Football”.  Aligning the new conferences regionally/geographically intends to reduce travel times and costs as well as developing new potential rivalry situations.

Forde proposes a 10-game season where every team plays the other 9 teams in its new conference plus one other game out of conference.  Note, there is no room here for Powerhouse State to schedule a glorified scrimmage against The National Rehabilitation School for Multiple Amputees.  I am beginning to like this idea…

None of the conferences will have a championship game; each conference champion will be determined within the regular season schedule using tiebreakers presumably.  Those 10 conference champions along with 2 other wild card teams would be seeded  into a 12-team playoff grid to determine an on-field College Football Champion.

There is one paragraph in the article that I particularly like:

“There still will be bowl games for the teams that don’t make the CFP. Just fewer of them, which nobody should mind.”

Indeed, I would not mind at all…

The Forde Plan – – it must have a name if anyone is going to take it even moderately seriously – – would provide consistency to college football scheduling and that is definitely a plus.  The hurdles to adopting such a plan are numerous and they are high hurdles indeed.  Here are what I think are the two biggest ones among those he mentions:

  1. This radical an idea would need to be undertaken with the imprimatur of a centralized “command structure” for college football.  That does not exist.  Please do not delude yourself into thinking that Mark Emmert and the jamokes at NCAA HQs can or do fill that role.
  2. This works only if all the 10 new conferences share the revenues from media rights and the expanded college football playoff system.  That means the current “Power 5” conferences will have to share money with schools from the “Other Guys”.  That idea will go over like an anvil in a cesspool.

Please read the article in its entirety as linked here.  There are plenty of benefits and problems associated with the idea and Forde lays them out without too much obvious bias.  Even though I doubt the idea will ever be taken seriously by any of the current conferences, there are some very appealing aspects to it.

            One very interesting aspect to Forde’s Plan is that I proposed something along the same lines back in January 2017.  My college football universe was 128 teams broken up into the “Big Boys Category” and the “Little Boys Category”.  Each “Category” would have 4 conferences of 16 teams and each conference would have 2 divisions.  The regular season would be 11 games – – 7 against the division foes and 4 against half of the teams in the other division in the conference.  (That “half” would rotate every year.)

My wrinkle was to have the “Little Boys Category” have a playoff system too and for the top 4 teams in the “Little Boys Category” to be promoted while the bottom 4 teams in the “Big Boys Category” would be relegated.  There are differences between the Forde Plan and my vision for reinventing college football, but we agree on more things than we disagree on.  In any event, here is the key point of commonality between the Forde Plan and “My Plan”:

  • Neither one is gonna happen.

Just for fun, here is the link to my rant from January 2017 if you would like to see how similar the foundations for the two proposals are.  I guess it shows that great minds run in similar channels.  Then again, so does sewer water…

While on the subject of college football, Boomer Esiason said something recently that I hope is completely wrong.  Esiason hosts a morning radio show in NYC; it is on WFAN in the time slot that used to be occupied by Imus in the Morning a long time ago.  According to a report in the NY Post, Esiason suggested that teams reporting large numbers of players who tested positive for COVID-19 had the players get it on purpose.  Here is what he supposedly said:

“I gotta be really careful here, because I don’t want to say that this is an accusation.  I don’t want to … I just was thinking the other day about what is going on with the SEC teams down south. And Clemson included, who’s obviously an ACC team. A lot of their players are coming down with COVID-19, oddly enough. So are they trying to herd immunity their teams?”

I have no insight into any college football programs nor do I have any idea if Esiason has access or sources that led him to say that.  However, I will say that if any college football coach is intentionally infecting members of his team to develop localized herd immunity, that is hugely irresponsible behavior.  About the only thing related to COVID-19 that might be worse would be to find a way to infect most of the players on your upcoming opponent without the other guys knowing about it.

Another problem with Esiason’s comment – without some sort of sourcing – is that it fuels just the sort of speculation on which sports talk radio feasts.  In 2020, people love to hear about and ponder “conspiracy theories” and Esiason took his comment above one more step down that sort of path:

“So these guys can get sick now as opposed to getting sick during the college football season if, in fact, there is one.  And I’m telling you right now I wouldn’t put it past any of those guys down there. I think it’s going on. I honestly … the numbers coming out of like Alabama, LSU and Clemson, all these teams? It’s too much of a coincidence. I don’t think it’s that crazy either.”

That is classic conspiracy theory thinking.  Coincidence becomes evidence and the lack of hard evidence becomes an element of proof for the conspiracy…  I hope he is dead wrong, and I hope that coaches like Nick Saban, Les Miles and Dabo Swinney call him out for that.

Finally, let me stay with today’s theme of college football with a little COVID-19 tossed into the mix with this Tweet from Brad Dickson, formerly with the Omaha World-Herald:

“Good guy Scott Frost has a new PSA where he tells ppl to keep up with routine medical visits during the pandemic. He doesn’t get paid for this. But, after listening to his deadly dull monotone during this brief speech I now know why Nebraska usually plays bad in the third quarter.”

But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………



6 thoughts on “Pat Forde Realigns College Football”

  1. I don’t think the herd immunity thing is happening, but it’s not extremist thinking.

    1. Doug:

      The idea that a college football coach – – or any other nominal adult leader of college age students – – would intentionally infect those students so that the coach or other adult leader might benefit from their infection is extremist thinking to me!

  2. Thanks for taking the time to follow-up with my query RE the “Forde Plan”. Like you, I don’t think it could happen, but I liked it nonetheless. I’m an old UNC-CH alum…class of ’65, Ken Willard and Chris Hanburger were classmates along with Billy Cunnigham…and have suffered over these many years with the under performance of the Tarheels on the gridiron. Now Mack returns and the darn virus hits our shores and it looks like it will probably result in cancelling or delaying the 2020 season. Frustrating.

    i’ve also retired out here to the high desert of the SW after wandering the US and the world…lived in Las Cruces until two years ago and then transferred to a senior independent living community here in El Paso. Yep, had to watch poor NMSU while in LC. Forde has it right, both NMSU and UTEP should be “relegated”. Anyway, long winded thanks for your comments. Stay safe and have a peaceful July 4th weekend. Gary R Lowe

    1. Gary L in El Paso:

      I too graduated in 1965 so we are “equivalently aged”. In a former life, I had an association with the Philly 76ers for a few years in the 1970s and got to meet Billy Cunningham in that capacity. He was – and presumably still is – a genuinely nice person.

      I feel sorry for you having had to follow New Mexico State football and now being proximal to UTEP for football. Condolences…

      Stay well.

  3. Curm, did you know an official with one of the Formula One racing teams wanted their team to get infected during their offseason? Came out a few months ago.

    1. Ed:

      I pay little to no attention to Formula One racing so i did not know that. Given the fact that COVID-19 can be fatal – – granted it is a small fatality rate – – it would seem to me that anyone advocating “intentional infection” is nudging up against a charge of “reckless endangerment”. Gotta maintain some perspective …

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