Knudson: Life at the Second Level
By Mark Knudson, The Mtn. InsiderSeptember 12, 2011
Okay, just for the sake of argument, let’s go ahead and take Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops’ word for it. Super Conferences in college football “seem to be the way the world is going,” Stoops has said. I guess that would be sooner (sorry, couldn’t resist) rather than later and there’s nothing we can do about it.
Most connected with the sport believe that at some point in the next few years college football will evolve into, say, four 16-team Super Conferences. The select Top 64 as it were. Common sense would tell you the conferences would probably be something like West, South, Midwest and East, just like the NCAA basketball brackets, and end up in some sort of playoff system that generates millions of dollars for the schools and unprecedented exposure for the sport.
There would be a new order of 64 of the top football programs in America that would essentially form a new Division I.
It could be fun. They couldn’t do this and then not have a playoff system, right? That money could do a lot of good if it’s spent correctly; for instance bringing back a lot of non-revenue sports that have been the victim of budget cuts.
It’s hard to be against an idea like that if it actually benefits college athletics in general. Still, the immediate follow-up question that matters a lot in places like Mountain West country has to be this: What happens to everyone else? What happens to teams not chosen to be amongst the Top 64? Team number 65 and up? Are they supposed to give up football or what?
Some have said that those left out of the Top 64 will just drop football altogether. Can you see that happening? Me neither. I can’t see those schools throwing the baby out with the bathwater. It makes no $en$e. What I can see is a new level – a new Division II – that could be pretty good, too.
Who’s to say that the second level of teams, which would likely include some current MW schools, couldn’t have their own football conferences, their own playoff system and/or bowl games, and their own National Championship? There are college football programs already excluded by virtue of the BCS system from playing for the national title. What would be so different? If anything, it would give a lot of schools more to play for.
Of course, if we had our druthers around here, we’d want to see the Mountain West become a Super Conference of its own. Next season there will be 10 MW teams. Who knows, it the Big 12 implodes, maybe the MW picks up a few of those teams then a couple more from other places, and, viola, a Super Conference is born.
Why do I think we’d still have trouble gaining that automatic qualifying status?
Finally, we all need to remember – and this includes Coach Stoops – that this has been tried before. Most of the current MW schools were part of a 16-team Western Athletic Conference in the mid 1990s. Two, eight team divisions divided into four-team pods that rotated and determined who played whom what years. It was totally confusing. The Super WAC didn’t last long before it broke apart and ultimately gave birth to the Mountain West Conference.
Has enough time passed for many who run the game to forget about the Super WAC? Do they think they have a better way to make it work this time? Somehow, I can’t see a Pac 16 that features Texas and Oklahoma being a smooth running operation.
I guess we’ll find out.
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