idea of a 72 team college super-league containing 8 regional divisions of 9 teams certainly sparked interest amon..."/> idea of a 72 team college super-league containing 8 regional divisions of 9 teams certainly sparked interest amon..."/>

National SuperLeague Proposal II – Promotion and Relegation


The idea of a 72 team college super-league containing 8 regional divisions of 9 teams certainly sparked interest among the readers, based on the responses I got. While many people agreed that such a proposal could cut out some of the fat of the lower-tier Division I teams and make for better regional rivalries and more logical path toward a national champion, other complained about the teams I left out. They complained it was unfair for me not to include teams such as Army, Navy, Louisville, Baylor, Hawaii, or Fresno State to name a few. I agree that at some stage, someone has to be left out, and some of them would be tough choices if you have to whittle 120 FBS football teams down to 72.

But, there is another way of approaching this conundrum that could both INCREASE the value of every game, even for the also-rans of each division, and allow a mechanism for deserving teams like Baylor to earn their way to the top-flight. They could create a promotion/relegation system similar to how European sports (soccer namely) works.

Here is how it could work; Rather than 72 teams in Division I-A, it could be 64 teams in 8 divisions of 8 teams. The teams left out of that initial 64 could be placed into Division I-B. They would be aligned into parallel regional divisions roughly covering the same area as their DI-A brethern. To make it even, the DI-B could expand by 12 more teams (adding them from FCS) to make for an even 64 as well. Likely teams here would include Montana and Villanova, etc.

At the end of the season, the division champion from the DI-B would get a chance to earn their way into DI-A by playing a promotion game against the last place team from the associated DI-A conference. The winner of this promotion/relegation game would get the spot in that DI-A division.

For instance; if Washington State finished last in the Pac-8 division, they could play the winner of the “West Coast 8” division (let’s say Fresno State) in Pullman for the right to be in the Pac-8 division. Under this scenario, no season would ever be considered “lost” until the end. The Cougars would have everything to play for through the end of the season, since they would be fighting to avoid that dreaded last place finish. Then, even if they went 0-7 in the conference, they would still have something to play for in their last game at home against a very motivated Bulldogs squad.

On a side note, can you imagine what the Apple Cup would look like if the Huskies had the opportunity to send the Cougs to the relegation game against Fresno State? The laughlines and joy of such a game would be worth it in and of itself!

One Possible Alignment

Pac-8West Coast 8
WashingtonSan Jose State
Washington StateFresno State
Oregon StateSan Diego State

So, even if an Army or Navy or Baylor or Hawaii felt slighted in the initial selection process, they would have their opportunity to prove themselves on the field of play. All they would need to do is win their DI-B division, win their relegation game, and they are back into the top flight for as long as they don’t finish last and lose the corresponding relegation game.

By the way, this scenario works well in Europe. In fact, relegation would be an excellent tool for the NCAA to crack down on cheating by athletic departments. A few years ago, European powerhouse Juventus was found guilty of some match-fixing scandal. They were relegated to Serie B. Rather than sell off all their high priced players, they kept themselves intact, cruised through the Serie B season and earned promotion back to Serie A the next season.

College football, at least for those with national championship aspirations, is about every single game matters from September to December. But, in all honesty, that’s really isn’t the case for most teams where the true goal is simply to finish at 6-6 or better to make it to a bowl game. Under this scenario every game would really matter, especially for those at the bottom who hopes to stay in the upper echelon of Division I-A.