For those unfamiliar with Pat Forde, he's one of the great clowns of our time, not only in sports media, but in our society at large. He is filled with atrocious ideas and illogical arguments, which is why he currently works for the Ghost of Sports Illustrated. But that's neither here nor there.
Today, Forde concocted what is truly, in my humble opinion, the magnum opus of college football dumbassery. He set out to completely change the landscape of conferences across college football.
Here's what Forde's plan looks like:
Sports Illustrated — The radical realignment highlights:
- A 120-school ecosystem, with 11 current FBS members relegated to FCS and one elevated from that level. Congratulations to North Dakota State; condolences to UTEP, Texas State, UTSA, South Alabama, Louisiana-Monroe, Bowling Green, New Mexico State, San Jose State, Coastal Carolina, Troy and Liberty. (Relegation/elevation can be revisited every three seasons.)
Ten leagues, each with 12 members, each designed to maximize proximity and reduce travel demands and costs. All current conference structures are broken and reassembled. There are no more than eight Power 5 programs in a single new conference, and no fewer than four. And there are no independents—yes, Notre Dame is in a conference.
In football, each school will play a full round-robin schedule plus one nonconference game (no FCS opponents). The nonconference opponent will be locked in for a minimum of four seasons before there is an opt-out to schedule someone different. There will be no conference championship games.
All 10 conference champions, plus two at-large teams chosen by a selection committee, advance to the expanded College Football Playoff. The teams are seeded by the committee. The top four receive a first-round bye, while seeds 5–8 host seeds 9–12 at their home stadiums the first weekend of December. Quarterfinals are played the next week at the home stadiums of seeds 1–4. The semifinals and championship game are conducted under the current CFP format.
There still will be bowl games for the teams that don’t make the CFP. Just fewer of them, which nobody should mind.
In theory, some of these ideas make sense. Sure, there are some problems with Rutgers being in the Big 10 or Colorado being in the PAC-12, but on the whole, the conferences were re-aligned a decade ago to maximize revenue in college football, which has absolutely worked. But Forde's plan seeks to socialize the revenues created by the College Football Playoff enjoyed by the Power Five conferences. He wants to make college football Communist.
Also, you have to play the same schedule for a minimum of four years before you get to change one game? Who the hell thinks that's a good idea? We've actually gotten to a point now where Power Five schools are scheduling entertaining home-and-home series with other powers, but now we have to watch Vanderbilt and Kent State square off four straight years before they can each get one new opponent?
But now for the real treat, here's what Forde's conferences would look like:
I'm sorry, what?
Each of these conferences has too much to unpack and they're all mostly the same problems, so just take a look at the Mid-American. In this mythical fantasy land, you're telling me Tennessee and Notre Dame are going to be in a conference with Western Kentucky, Northern Illinois, Middle Tennessee State and Marshall? We can't get Notre Dame to join a conference now, but Forde is sure they'll jump at the opportunity to take a trip to Murfreesboro, Tennessee every other year.
Look at every conference and it's the same thing. Georgia and Florida International in the Deep South. Michigan and Akron in the Great Midwest. Penn State and UMass in the Yankee — these conference names are just as atrocious as this idea, by the way. What in the world are we even talking about?
Forde says the advantages of this abhorrent system would include "uniformity; conference championships that truly matter; increased access to a more lucrative playoff; a more level playing field for the little guys; renewed regional identity; cherished rivalries preserved, restored—and, in some cases, forced into permanent existence."
Yeah, Pat, because when I think of rivalries I'm dying to see every year, Ohio State—Ball State is right at the top of my list. That matchup of titans only narrowly edges out my desire to watch Auburn and Arkansas State duke it out each season.
The little guy doesn't matter. Almost every non-Power Five school on that list could drop football tomorrow and the college football world would be better for it. Nobody likes paying $80 to go to a non-conference game where their team is going to beat North Texas by 30 as it is; now you want to put them in a conference with Texas and Texas A&M?
There are about 20 college football programs in the country that actually matter and this idea would reduce that number to zero. Once you say that Florida and UAB are on the same playing field, Florida's brand no longer means anything.
I'm partially mad at myself for even writing this blog and giving Forde the attention he wants because this idea is so patently absurd. But I will not stand idly by and let people like him try to turn college football into a Communist fairytale fun land. Not on my watch.