Big 12 Sports Articles

Promotion and relegation: Time for college football join European soccer

NCAA Football: CFP National Championship-Clemson vs Alabama

College football has never featured a perfect system to crown a national champion. At first, national champions were crowned by polls. There would be multiple national champions almost every year. Then the Bowl Coalition and the Bowl Alliance came about as precursors to the eventual Bowl Championship Series. Each and every year, the screams and cries continued to gain volume. Finally, college football adapted a four-team playoff system for the Football Bowl Subdivision. But it’s time for college football to go the way of European soccer and adopt the promotion and relegation system.

The four-team playoff is still not perfect. Mid-major teams are guaranteed absolutely no shot at a national championship. The selection process is subjective and mistake-prone humans make the utmost important decisions. Only Oklahoma has been selected to participate from the Big 12 conference. Gary Patterson is still upset about TCU being snubbed, and doesn’t back down when provided a golden opportunity to take a shot at the selection committee. I’m amazed he hasn’t called the Texas Rangers to round those decision makers up and have them hung.

There are alternatives out there. In fact, the alternative I’m thinking of would give Oklahoma a nine-game schedule featuring the following teams: Alabama, Ole Miss, TCU, Baylor, Wisconsin, Mississiippi State, Oklahoma State and Houston. Okay, so it’s missing the Red River Shootout, but Texas hasn’t been a contender since 2010 and every team on that schedule has participated in at least a New Year’s Six bowl.

You see, here are better systems than the one we use to crown a national champion right now. It’s a system that would give everyone a shot to earn their way to a national championship. Of course, for some programs, it may take years. However, everything worthwhile in life seems to be earned and not given.

A few years ago, I wrote about how college football would be better off adapting a system currently used by professional soccer organizations in Europe. Today, the English Premier League begins its 2017-18 season. Four teams out of 20 are guaranteed to advance to a playoff system to figure out who the best team in Europe is, and eventually the best team around the globe. Meanwhile, the worst three teams after a 38-game schedule will be relegated from the top division, and will have to earn their way back to play against the best franchises in English soccer. Some legendary franchises have been relegated. Manchester City is entering its sixth straight UEFA Champions League this season. In the past six seasons, they have won two Premier League Championships. Despite this, they were once in the third level of The Football Association. This means they had to wait two full years in the late 1990s to have a shot to play in the Premier League again. This would be ideal for college football.

In September, 130 college football teams will kick-off their season and a quest for championships. Many of those teams were eliminated from contention the day a four-team playoff was announced. Additionally, some teams haven’t really competed in football. When Oklahoma and Texas fans hear about games against Kansas and Iowa State, they aren’t exactly lining up at the box office. Many fans may get those tickets for free. However, if you aren’t camping out for tickets to the Red River Shootout, then you might as well make plans to watch on television.

To mark the opening of the English Premier League season, I took the results from the past three college football seasons and figured out exactly where all of the Football Bowl Subdivision teams would line up in a promotion & relegation system. What I found out was intriguing. Texas, Texas Tech, and Texas A&M would all reunite in the same division and be forced to renew their rivalries. What division you might ask? All three of those teams would be in the third tier of the Central Time zone.

The first tier is made up of teams who mainly have participated in either the College Football Playoff or a New Year’s Six Bowl. Thanks to the New Year’s Six Bowls, Western Michigan, Houston and Boise State found themselves in the premier divisions of their respective time zones. The next criteria featured those who had won conference championships. Afterwards was division championships. This would actually punish Notre Dame and BYU. Both teams still made it into the premier division, but BYU made it mainly because of a lack of teams west of the Rocky Mountains. Notre Dame barely snuck in as the final team in the Eastern Time Zone.

After conference and division championships came bowl wins, then bowl appearances. Six Power Five Conference teams have not appeared in a bowl game in the past three seasons. Kansas and Iowa State are two of those teams. For their troubles, Kansas and Iowa State would be forced to play in the fourth division with Texas State, North Dakota State and Jacksonville State. Honestly, I’m not so positive the Jayhawks and Cyclones would be promoted out of that division. After all, North Dakota State is on a five-game winning streak against the Big 12 Conference.

One thing to note is UAB was not listed into these divisions. Because UAB will be starting a new program and did not play last season, they would be forced to start in the very bottom tier as would any new program. UAB would likely be facing teams from Division III like Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas or Millsaps College in Jackson, Mississippi. If Wichita State, Long Beach State or Pacific wanted to rekindle their programs, the same would apply.

Are their flaws with this system? Yes. Perhaps the biggest flaw comes with the lack of FBS teams west of the Rocky Mountains. Six FCS teams found their way into the second division in the Mountain Time Zone. The Eastern Time Zone didn’t have an FCS team until the seventh tier. Perhaps, the Pacific and Mountain regions could be combined. Of course, Hawaii is a part of the Pacific region. By combining the Pacific and Mountain time zones, this could create a slot for a deserving wild card team to earn the fourth and final bye mentioned in my article from a couple of years back. Additionally, it could open up a few more chances for teams to squeeze into the playoffs from the Eastern and Central time zones.

Additionally, for revenue purposes, the NCAA would figure out some way to knock Boise State, Houston and Western Michigan out of the premier divisions at the beginning. The NCAA wants Texas, LSU and Tennessee in those big boy slots. However, truth would play itself out eventually in this system and someday, you may just see North Dakota State competing against the likes of Alabama, Oklahoma and Texas. When it comes to promotion and relegation, anything can happen.

Below, you can see where each and every Big 12 Conference team would wind up and who their nine-team schedule would feature on it.

Central Time Zone

Premier Division

1. Alabama
2. Oklahoma
3. Ole Miss
4. TCU
5. Houston
6. Wisconsin
7. Baylor
8. Mississippi State
9. Oklahoma State
10. Auburn

Second Division

1. Arkansas State
2. Northern Illinois
3. Louisiana Tech
4. Missouri
5. Southern Miss
6. Arkansas
7. LSU
8. Minnesota
9. Kansas State
10. Nebraska


Third Division

1. Texas A&M
2. Texas
3. Texas Tech
4. Tulsa
5. Louisiana-Lafayette
6. Rice
7. Troy
8. South Alabama
10. UTSA


Fourth Division

1. North Texas
2. Iowa State
3. Kansas
4. Louisiana-Monroe
5. Texas State
6. SMU
7. Tulane
8. North Dakota State
9. Jacksonville State
10. Illinois State


Eastern Time Zone

Premier Division

1. Ohio State
2. Clemson
3. Florida State
4. Michigan State
5. Georgia Tech
6. Penn State
7. Western Michigan
8. Iowa
9. Michigan
10. Notre Dame


Second Division

1. Western Kentucky
2. Temple
3. Bowling Green
4. Marshall
5. Georgia Southern
6. Memphis
7. Appalachian State
8. Central Florida
9. Cincinnati
10. Florida


Third Division

1. North Carolina
2. Virginia Tech
3. Navy
4. Ohio
5. Tennessee
6. Georgia
7. North Carolina State
8. Miami (FL)
9. West Virginia
10. Duke

Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!

**If you want a chance to win FREE Big 12 gear from your favorite team, be sure to sign up for our weekly newsletter! **


Most Popular

To Top