A New Model for College Football

by | Dec 4, 2018

With all of the talk about access to the College Football Championship and the future of college football, here is a new model for industry leaders to consider.

 

A NEW MODEL for COLLEGE FOOTBALL

 

The time is right for progressive, thoughtful leaders to step forward with a plan to ensure a viable future for college football.  The College Football Playoff has been incredibly successful for 65 programs; but, what has it done for the game as attendance across the country continues to drop[1] and participation at the grass-roots level is experiencing a frightening decline[2]?  The current format has worked well for a few at the top (in 5 years, only 10 teams have received bids to the CFP), but it threatens to render irrelevant dozens of other programs that are important to the game’s future.  The game itself could fall under its own weight without significant change.

Here are some thoughts on how to change the trajectory without completely changing the landscape:

NATIONAL COLLEGIATE FOOTBALL ASSOCIATION (NCFA) – Football should federate and manage it rules, regulations, and under a new banner, one unaffiliated with the NCAA.

 

Mission & Purpose

  • To serve as the nation’s “steward of the college game”, promoting and sustaining the sport of football at the collegiate level.
  • To promote the value of higher education through the sport of football.
  • To provide young men access to a college education.
  • To bring distinction and recognition to the Universities that sponsor football;
  • To manage the college game (rules & championships).

 

Structure – The NCFA, operating independently of the NCAA, would be a membership based association of colleges and universities that would govern all aspects of college football, including:

  • Determination of its rules (eligibility, recruiting, compliance, scheduling, post-season championships, revenue sharing, etc.),
  • Administration of post-season play;
  • Management/ownership of its media rights;
  • Governance and fiduciary responsibility for all of college football.

Dozens of schools outside of the P5 group have invested heavily in football, some at great cost to the institution without a measurable return on that investment.  We need to create a way for them to justify their investment without having to chase an expensive, often impossible dream.  It needs to be OK to play at every level.

 

So, here’s a way college football could re-structure football to broaden access to the CFP to include schools that have the resources and will to compete at that level.

  • Create a sixth Power (P6) conference that has full access to a national championship playoff.
    • The P6 group would include the ACC, Big Ten, Big XII, Pac-12, SEC, and a NEW football only Continental Football Conference (CFC)

Continental Football Conference (CFC) – a national football conference made up of 24-40 members from the AAC, MWC, C-USA, MAC, Sun Belt, and Independent schools that meet certain membership criteria developed by the NCFA.

  • CFC members would retain their all-sport conference affiliations to preserve their AQ status into NCAA Championships (AAC, C-USA, MAC, MWC, Sun Belt).
  • The CFC would be made up of 4 Divisions of 6-10 teams per division, arranged geographically to reduce travel and preserve natural rivalries.
  • The 4 Divisions would play a full Divisional schedule (5-9 games) with a cross-over game against a team from another Division during the last week of the regular season.
  • Cross-over games occurring in the final week of the season pit #1 vs #1, #2 vs #2, etc. from the other Division.
  • Divisions host the final crossover games every other year to allow for scheduling consistency.
  • Winners of the two #1 vs #1 games would play for the CFC Championship with the winner advancing to the CFP.

 

Expand the College Football Playoff (CFP) – The College Football Playoff format would include the Champions from the traditional P5 Conferences, plus the CFC Champion.  An option would be to add two at-large teams to make it a field of 8.

 

  • OPTION #1: 6 CFP Bowl Games –
    • Teams are seeded 1-6.
    • #1 and #2 seeds have a bye to semi-finals.
    • First round played at home site of highest seed in week one (#3 vs #6; #4 vs #5).
    • Semi-final Round (2 games) played at traditional New Year’s bowl sites.
    • Championship played 1 week to 10 days after Semi-finals at neutral site.
  • OPTION #2: 8 CFP Bowl games
    • Teams are seeded 1-8.
    • First round (4 games) played at home site of highest seed in week one (#1 vs #8…)
    • Semi-final Round (2 games) played at traditional New Year’s bowl sites.
    • Championship played 1 week to 10 days after Semi-finals at neutral site.

 

So…Who decides which teams make up the CFC?  What are the criteria for membership?  What does this mean for the 25 to 41 FBS programs that aren’t invited to the party?  What are their options?  How will this change their status in the world of college sports?

 

Coming soon…Part 2 of the new plan for college football.

 

 

[1] FBS games (including neutral-site and bowl games) averaged 42,203 fans in 2017, a drop of 1,409 fans per game from 2016. It is the fourth consecutive year that FBS attendance has dropped year over year and, at 3.2 percent, it is the largest average drop since 1983.  Source:  NCAA Annual Reports on Football Attendance.

[2] 11.8% decline in youth participation in tackle football in 2017.  Source:  Aspen Institute; State of Play 2018 – Trends and Developments

Fewer than 1.04 million high school students played football in 2017. That’s 20,000 fewer athletes than in 2016, a 2 percent drop. In the past decade, football enrollment has declined 6.6 percent. Source:  National Federation of High School Associations (NFHS)

 

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