Alright, so you’re thinking to yourself that you’ve had enough of this NCAA realignment garbage, and rightfully so. The people in change of making all the money don’t want to change an obviously flawed system because there’s a possibility that they won’t make as much money if they do. I get it. But since we are quickly turning into a world where pay-per-view or a la carte or choose what interests you or whatever you want to call it sports viewing is here to stay, I figured we should change the NCAA and give the people what they really want.
First off, let’s say goodbye to the NCAA. It’s outdated and irrelevant in the two sports that we care about most, football and major college basketball. Let the NCAA operate however they choose but leave us out of it. I have created a system that will be known as the Power 64. Original, eh? Well, here’s the catch. The Power 64 operates as its own entity and never crosses over to play teams from the former NCAA. Here are the teams:
As you will notice, there are some former teams from the "Power Five" conferences that are not present, most notably Northwestern, Wake Forest, Vanderbilt, Rutgers, Boston College, and UConn (not Power 5, but still). Those teams often get a free pass when it comes to realignment talk because they are already in a steady, forward thinking conference. Why? Because they’ve always been there? Not with the Power 64. With the Power 64, Rutgers is reduced to the irrelevant team that they already are. Bye. Same with the others. And as a bonus, Northwestern now has a legitimate shot of making an NCAA tournament. See you later.
Let’s talk football. First, with so many teams, how does the schedule balance itself out. Well, the short answer is that it doesn’t really do that. Here is the proposal for scheduling:
Week 1: Opposite division conference game
Weeks 2-3: Non-Con action against assigned division
Week 4: "Rivalry week" or Open scheduling
Weeks 5-11: Division play
Each team would play two home and two away games in the first four weeks. The "Division Schedule" would consist of seven games, with three at home and four on the road, rotating annually.
So, week one each year you will have a regional rival from your own conference. The downside is that it will take eight years to get through an entire conference slate (16 to do the whole round robin), but you get a semi-local travel option every two years.
Weeks two and three will be designated games against a random division to be rotated yearly. In the example schedules below, it plays like this:
Week 2- SEC East v B1G West, SEC West v B1G East, PAC East v ACC South, and PAC West v ACC North
Week 3- PAC East v SEC West, PAC West v SEC East, ACC North v B1G West, ACC South v B1G East
Week Four is dedicated to those rivalry games that have broken up because of the realignment. For example, Oklahoma and Texas will now have a platform to play. As will Notre Dame and Michigan if they so desire. The rest can be open scheduling as long as it doesn’t conflict with the parameters set above.
A championship can be determined one of two ways, and as there will be complaining with each, I see no reason not to propose both. One is simple. Have a championship game with the division winners battling it out and then set up a four-team championship bracket.
The other is a bit more complex, but would give all division winners a chance as well as four committee chosen wild cards. The championship game winners (true conference champions) would be given a week rest while the other 8 battle it out. Yes, there will be controversy with this method, but there will be controversy with the other as well if a division is deemed weak in a particular year. That’s the nature of football and it seems unavoidable.
On to basketball. Some people like the NCAA tournament. Those people are probably fans of upsets, or "Cinderella stories", or haters of big time programs with annual success, or TV executives at CBS. Legitimate fans of teams like Kansas, North Carolina, Duke, and Kentucky have a legitimate fear of the NCAA tournament on some occasions, especially the first round. The NCAA tournament often renders the regular season useless (to the national media at least….and haters). I’m done with it as a measure of success, but what if the regular season meant more. Here are two proposals for basketball under the Power 64 guise.
A 24-Team Tournament
In this scenario, the regular season is all that exists. There are no conference tournaments as the regular season will be extended by a few games. The eight division winners are given a pass to the Sweet 16. They are seeded one though eight by a committee. This should be simpler since there will be more common opponents. The committee then selects the next best 16 teams and seeds them 9-24 (again, easier). These teams compete in the first round and advance to play the eight division winners. The catch is that the one seed gets the winner of the 23 v 24 game, the two seed gets the winner of 21 v 22, and so on. Winning in the regular season is an incentive come tournament time. Magical concept. No longer will a team get hot for a week and sneak into the tournament and stay hot and get to the Final Four (Power 4). They will EARN it from November. For the record, I used NCAA seeds as a reference point when picking seeds for this scenario.
A 12-Team Tournament
Want to make things even more challenging? How about a 12-Team tourney? Here is the scenario: All the division winners will again make it, and since people seem to love conference tournaments, they will be used in this scenario and we make them mean something. The two division winners will have an exemption from the conference tournament, but will still have a playoff- more on that in a minute. First, each of the 14 remaining teams in the each conference tournament will battle it out for a 9, 10, 11 or 12 seed in the big tournament. Then, after those teams are decided, the two division winners play a game to decide who gets an automatic berth in the Elite 8 (Power 8). That game is a de facto Sweet 16 (Power 16) game except the winner is still alive. Imagine an afternoon at the Sprint Center with Michigan State defeating Iowa State to get to the tournament followed by Kansas beating Indiana to advance to the Elite 8. Glorious. Plus, as an added bonus, no committee.
But what about those teams that are good at basketball but have no football program or a "small" football program? Teams like Villanova, Wichita State, UConn, Temple, Gonzaga, Georgetown, etc can still play by the NCAA’s rules if they’d like. Have a tournament. I’d watch. Play your games on Thursday and Friday and let the Power 64 take Saturday and Sunday and we will have so much tournament basketball that we won’t know what to do with ourselves.
So, there you have it, a completely unrealistic overhaul and "elimination" of the NCAA. I like the Power 64. Now how can we make it happen?