College Football Relegation

Someone else brought this up a few weeks ago with respect to basketball (and if this has already been covered for football I apologize), but I'm intrigued by the possibility of operating a "relegation" system for football, similar to what is done in Euro soccer leagues.

I've played around with different numbers in my head, but with 120 1A teams, it seems as if this could set up nicely with four sets of "conferences" with 30 teams each.

The way I would set this up is with three "divisions" of 10 teams each within a group. Each group of 30 teams has it's own playoffs, and these could run concurrently at the conclusion of the regular season. These playoffs could take the format of three division winners and three to five wild card entries, for a three week playoff season.

The divisions could be geographic, but would not necessarily have to be (since it is football and there's only one game per week, travel would be less of an issue). Each team would play all nine other teams in their division plus two or three additional games. You could make a rule that each team could only play one or two teams from a lower division, or you could leave scheduling completely up to the schools, as scheduling three "cupcakes" could bring down your rating and leave you more vulnerable to being relegated.

Relegation would occur every other year and would be based on the cumulative BCS ratings, Sagarin, or something similar. Each biennial period, the top X teams from the lower groups move up, while the same number of teams from the higher groups would move down.

The money within each group of 30 teams would be completely equally shared.

Pros and cons:


  • All teams have the opportunity to move up to a higher level, should they decide to make the investment and commitment.
  • Under this model, conferences would stay intact for all other sports, alleviating potential travel and money issues.
  • Each group would have a playoff, giving teams at all four levels the opportunity to play for a championship.


  • Money would be spread unevenly between different levels (and maybe significantly so), which a lot of bottom feeders in BCS leagues would probably vehemently oppose.
  • If not done right, we could potentially lose many of the sport's greatest rivalries...even if done right, you may end up with (for example) MU, KU, and KSU not playing on a regular basis, unless they decided to make those annual games regardless of level...would Michigan and Ohio State ever go for being in different conferences or levels?
  • Grouping teams into divisions could be tricky if the balance of power happened to shift geographically for a period of years, leaving teams with long travel.

So, these are my back of the envelope thoughts, what do you think?

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