More On College Football Reorganization

In yesterday’s rant/lamentation about the trajectory of college football, I suggested that the entertainment value of a few college football “Super-Conferences” might be attractive enough to make such a thing happen.  Then I focused on the handful of games on the early-opening weekend of college football games to illustrate why college football needs to change things up to be a premier entertainment product for the entirety of its season.  Now, let me expand my view a bit here and look beyond the first weekend’s minimalist entertainment choices as highlighted yesterday.

The weekend starting on Thursday August 31st through Monday September 4th has a much larger slate of games.  And here is a “front-and-center problem” for college football:

  • The best college teams schedule far too many glorified scrimmages against opponents who ought not be on the same field with the best teams.

College football makes billions of dollars in revenue annually because it is an entertainment vehicle.  So, look beyond the first dozen games on “Weekend Zero” of the season and see what entertainment sources college football might provide on its grand opening weekend.  I don’t know about you, but the idea of tuning in to watch a game with a 27 or 28-point spread is only interesting if the team I root for is the favorite in that game.  So, I went to see who the teams that are projected to be “Top Teams” in 2023 might be playing in early September.  Here are some data:

  • Oklahoma is a 33-point favorite over Arkansas State
  • Michigan is a 36.5-point favorite over Eastern Michigan
  • Ohio State is a 28-point favorite over Indiana
  • Wisconsin is a 27-point favorite over Buffalo
  • TCU is a 20-point favorite over Colorado
  • USC is a 38-point favorite over Nevada
  • Alabama is a 39-point favorite over Middle Tennessee State
  • Auburn is a 40-point favorite over UMass
  • Texas A&M is a 38-point favorite over New Mexico
  • Texas is a 36-point favorite over Rice

You should get the idea by now; these games should not have ever been scheduled.  Please don’t send me a commentary about how Appalachian St went to Ann Arbor and beat Michigan at home about 15 years ago.  Yes, that happened; yes, I know that it happened; no, it was not a gigantic entertainment event for college football when it happened simply because NOBODY thought it was sufficiently probable that it was telecast broadly.  Huge upsets are great – – so long as they happen more than once a decade or so- – AND – – so long as anyone has the foresight to make that specific humongous upset available to consumers of college football at the time of the event.  Absent that exposure, it simply becomes part of the communal memory of college football and not part of its greatness as an entertainment vehicle.

Looking over the card for the grand opening weekend of college football for this year – – from August 31 through September 4th, I find exactly ONE game that might potentially be important when people think about the best teams in the country sometime in November.  That game is:

  • LSU – 2 at Florida State (57).

Both teams project to be very good; both programs have a history of success on the national stage.  This game could be determinative down the road regarding which of these two teams might get a slot in the CFP tournament.  This single game matters – – but there are about 50 or so “other games” that have little to no meaning about anything related to college football.

In pro ‘rassling, there are things called “squash matches”.  Those are staged to demonstrate the seemingly awesome and overwhelming powers of the squasher over the squashee.  Pro ‘rassling needs such exhibitions to build drama to matches between the squasher here and “the champion” somewhere down the road.  College football does not need games where top teams obliterate mediocre or worse teams to set up their presumably dominant presence in the CFP.

  • MEMO TO: College Football  Squash matches are not entertaining.  If you want mega-dollars from broadcasters, minimize the number of squash matches that need to air.

The potential formation of Super Conferences should allow the members of those Super conferences to play each other exclusively thereby providing a lot more competitive – – read entertaining – – contests.  I am not trying to pick on schools here but consider these scheduling decisions made by these schools.  These games for 2023 are not conference games that must be played; these are games specifically chosen by powerhouse schools:

  • Clemson:  Charleston-Southern, Florida Atlantic, Notre Dame (kudos), S. Carolina.
  • Georgia:  Tennessee-Martin, Ball State, UAB, Georgia Tech
  • LSU:  Florida State (kudos here), Grambling, Army, Georgia State
  • Michigan:  E. Carolina, UNLV, Bowling Green
  • Ohio State:  Youngstown State, Western Kentucky, Notre Dame (kudos here)
  • Oklahoma:  Arkansas State, Tulsa, UCF
  • USC:  San Jose State, Nevada, Notre Dame (kudos)
  • Washington:  Boise State, Tulsa, Michigan State (semi-kudos)

There you have 8 big football programs I picked out of the air representing 27 individual scheduling choices made by these big programs.  Other than games against Notre Dame, there is only 1 game of potential importance/significant entertainment value.  That would be the LSU/Florida State on Sept 2 cited above.  The rest of these games figure to be “squash matches”; oh joy!

Remember, these criticisms of the current state of college football come from someone who really enjoys college football; I am not a hater.  I can, however, see ways to make college football more entertaining which usually translates into bigger revenues.  Lots of folks will decry the death of longstanding collegiate rivalries and indeed some of those rivalries could wither away.  However, when I look at many of the longstanding rivalry games, most of them involve teams that are usually of comparable competencies.  That being the case, it is perfectly possible that many such rivalries could be accommodated as teams sort out into more homogeneous amalgams of capabilities.  Here are fifteen traditional rivalries that should survive a major shuffle within college football:

  1. Auburn/Alabama
  2. BYU/Utah
  3. Cal/Stanford
  4. Duke/UNC
  5. Florida/Florida State
  6. Kentucky/Louisville
  7. Iowa/Iowa State
  8. Kansas/Kansas State
  9. Michigan/Ohio State
  10. Oklahoma/Oklahoma State
  11. Penn State/Pitt
  12. TCU/SMU
  13. Texas/Oklahoma
  14. USC/UCLA
  15. Virginia/Virginia Tech

[Aside:  The previously lost rivalry game between Texas and Texas A&M might be restored in such a reorganization.]

When I have tried to discuss these sorts of ideas for the evolution of college football with friends, the most common pushback is that it would create chaos within the sport and that chaos usually presents unforeseen damage.  I accept that criticism; I agree that there would probably be a season or two that might be “less than pretty”.  However, if the mavens who will have to do the work to make something like this happen go into the undertaking knowing that chaos is likely and that chaos is something to be minimized, more good will come out at the end than bad.

Finally, here is what The Official Dictionary of Sarcasm has to say about chaos:

Chaos:  A state of extreme disorder.  Captured perfectly in nature by the contents of a woman’s handbag.”

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



6 thoughts on “More On College Football Reorganization”

  1. Washington/Washington State and Oregon/Oregon State are good rivalries where the win-loss record is jettisoned.

  2. Clemson is playing Notre Dame as part of the ACC football agreement with the Irish. ND plays five ACC teams each year on a rotating schedule. No kudos for Clemson.

    1. Doug:

      Thanks for the correction. I forgot about that semi-ACC participation for Notre Dame in football.

  3. It seems like Clemson / SC is an in-state rivalry of interest to both schools.
    Similarly, Georgia / Ga Tech.
    LSU / Grambling, not so much unless you’re referencing a battle of the bands, which we aren’t.

    1. steve:

      OK, folks. You guys are right. There has to be some wiggle room in a “Reorganized College Football” to preserve about a dozen or so rivalry games.

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