The 2020 college football season will be unlike any season we’ve seen before — if it even happens.
This upcoming season, the SEC and other Power-5 conferences will have to be creative and do whatever they can to have a season.
But moving forward, college football will eventually return to normalcy. There will be stadiums full of fans again (hopefully in 2021) and there will be normal schedules — schedules that need some fine-tuning.
During the coronavirus pandemic, I think we’ve seen that major changes in sports we thought were previously impossible can happen rather quickly. In MLB, for example, the National League will use the DH in their shortened season. This is something that’s been a debate for several decades. It always gets discussed and then eventually tabled. MLB is also placing a runner on second base to start extra innings, which is another rule that’s been discussed for years but has never been adopted. Until now.
Change in sports can happen. And it can happen easily. And it needs to happen with college football’s Power-5 schedules.
Here’s how I think the schedules should look.
Obviously the regular season needs to stay at 12 games. It works and anything more would be too much for college athletes (some of those players are going to play up to 15 games, depending on how deep into the post-season they play).
The games against FCS opponents or lower-tier FBS opponents are incredibly important. The cash those programs make for playing against teams like Alabama and Tennessee helps their athletic departments operate in the black.
So we can’t completely eliminate those games. But I also don’t think we need more than one of those games.
My proposal is that each Power-5 team plays one FCS/lower-tier FBS team each season. And instead of a direct payout, there should be some sort of revenue sharing system set up, which would essentially subsidize the FCS/lower-tier FBS programs. It would be the same amount of money paid out by Power-5 programs, they just wouldn’t play multiple “automatic-win” games.
So with the eight conference games, plus the payout game, that leaves three games left to fill on the schedules.
This is where it gets fun.
Those three games should be against Power-5 opponents. One from each conference (rotating years).
For example, Tennessee would play the ACC, Big 10, and Big 12 one year. Then the next year they’d play the Big 10, Big 12, and Pac-12.
How would the schedule be made?
I would propose a committee, similar to the College Football Playoff committee, that gets together each offseason and puts together the most unique matchups. Who wouldn’t want to see Tennessee vs North Carolina in a border battle (as proposed by A to Z Sports’ Austin Stanley)? Vols vs Texas would be fun. Tennessee and Michigan? I’m in.
A committee would prevent us from getting non-interesting matchups like Alabama vs Virginia.
The revenue from these games would also be higher than the revenue from a Tennessee vs UAB matchup. That extra revenue is what could help subsidize the have-nots in college football (and still probably allow for increased revenue for Power-5 programs).
Now, the one issue with this set-up is the existing non-conference rivalry games we already have. South Carolina vs Clemson, Georgia vs Georgia Tech, etc.
Fans love those games, which is why I think they should remain. That would have to be worked into the scheduling committee somehow. After all, this is about putting a better product on the field each Saturday for fans and nothing more.
Another issue is neutral site games. I’m not a big fan of neutral-site games, but I know they create a lot of revenue. Maybe have a set amount of neutral site games each year and teams can enter into a lottery-type system to be awarded a neutral site game if that’s what the program desires.
This set-up would require some tweaking, but I think it would allow for more exciting games, while also keeping low-revenue programs afloat.
Featured image via Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports