Not a very pleasant dream, you say? Well hear me out.
When everything shakes out, what I think you will have are five 16-team super conferences comprising the best 80 teams from across the country. (see possible conference make ups below).
These conferences would further break down into divisions of eight teams each, or perhaps even four pods of four teams each within each conference, thus creating more scheduling flexibility.
Teams from these conferences would play eight games a year among each other, with three OCC games. I think the amount of regular season games will be decreased by one game to make way for a playoff system.
At the end of the year, each conference would play championship games the first weekend of December, and those champions would advance to play the other super conference champions in a national playoff format using the existing bowls to determine a true national champion!
Can you imagine the scope and magnitude of those conference championship games, knowing that the winners move on to playoffs and a possible national championships? It would easily equal the drama and excitement of the Elite Eight and Final Four. The ACC championship would be staged in the Georgia Dome, the Southeastern in the Super Dome, the Big 10 at Lucas Oil Stadium, the Big 12 in Cowboys Stadium, the Pac 10 at Qwest Field. Could you imagine the crowds, the frenzy, the excitement?
Teams from the super conferences with winning records who were not part of the playoffs would go into the normal bowl system just as in the past.
Here is how the teams might shake out in the individual conferences:
North Carolina State
San Diego State
In this scenario, San Diego St, UNLV, New Mexico, Navy, SMU, Rice, Houston, Memphis, and Cincinnati are the last in for the top 80 and barely make the cut for the super conferences.
The teams who have resumes worthy of super conference consideration include: Army, Southern Mississippi, East Carolina, Central Florida, Marshall, Temple, Ohio, Central Michigan, Troy, Nevada, Wyoming, Hawaii, and Air Force. However, for the sake of argument, I have left these teams out.
These remaining division 1-A teams would form four conferences. Any teams from the FBS (such as Appalachian State, Liberty, Delaware, Villanova, etc.) who made the move to D-1 in subsequent years would be added to these conferences on an individual case-by-case basis.
Here’s how the remaining sub-level conferences might look:
New Mexico State
San Jose State
These teams would still schedule OCC games with the Super Conference members, and the bowl system would still be in place for the top teams from these conferences at the end of the year just as in the past.
Although not a part of the national play-offs, these teams would still benefit from the OCC game payouts as well as the financial windfalls from the existing bowl system.
That probably won’t make the teams who are left out of the super conferences feel any better, but they can at least remain a part of the NCAA system, albeit on a significantly lesser basis.
What about rivalries? Although this scenario might mean the end of some of the Mountaineers’ traditional rivalries, it’s important to keep in mind that rivalries come and go.
WVU used to have huge rivalries with Washington & Lee, Richmond, Davidson, and William & Mary. Some of the Mountaineers’ older fans recall these rivalries with great fondness, but I bet none of these fans, if asked, crave a return to yesteryear. I bet all prefer the current status of the WVU program and who the Mountaineers play now.
An even more recent example, WVU used to play Boston College, Miami and Virginia Tech every year. That changed and the fans learned to live with it (although many didn’t like it!)
The same can be said for our current rivalries. While I don’t necessarily look forward to possibly losing our rivalries with Syracuse or Rutgers or Pitt…well, that’s just the way things go sometimes. If those schools shift to a different conference, the landscape will change; you adapt and then you move on.
Will all of this come to pass? I think the chances are quite good that something like the above scenario will actually transpire. What I am completely unsure about, however, is the timetable, as well as which teams will end up where. Placing the teams into each conference is simply a huge guess on my part.
But the best 80 teams in five conferences playing for a true national championship? I think that is something that will come to pass.
And don’t fret Mountaineer fans. I think WVU will have a seat at the table.
Jeff Cobb is a long-time member of BlueGoldNews.com. The opinions expressed here are his own.