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Rushing reasons with new realignment

TUE.| 11-28-23 | SPORTS

     In 2014, the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) created the College Football Playoff (CFP), a four team bracket with the top teams in the country, the winner being crowned the national champion. Since then, all but three champions have come from the Southeastern Conference (SEC). The SEC, being a perennial powerhouse, has made teams like Texas and Oklahoma want to join the conference, sending the college football world into a frenzy. 

     Now, the University of Southern California will face off in the same conference as Pennsylvania State University. Although both of these universities are elite programs, they won’t be playing with full health, as they’ll travel over 2500 miles for one singular game. With the difference in time zones, coupled with a full education, these student athletes will be facing a huge mental and physical battle. 

     On the other hand, the average viewer is going to be able to watch an amazing slate of games every Saturday, as the new SEC and Big 10 make up 15 of the top 25 teams at the halfway point of the season. These “super conferences” will make the teams on top play tougher competition every week and make more quality games for the sport. 

     Teams in the other three power five schools, the ACC, Big 12 and the Pacific (PAC) 12 have been left in shambles due to all their teams leaving for greener pastures. Even worse off are the group of five teams, (teams in the American, Conference USA, Sun Belt, Mountain West and Mid-American) as they will receive minimal, if any national publicity. 

     In European soccer, they use a relegation system. Essentially, there are multiple tiers and the worst teams from one tier swap with the best teams from the tier below. I believe that a college football relegation system could strengthen the fan base on both the top and bottom of the college football totem poll. 

     Division one would be split into multiple tiers, with the perennial national championship contenders, such as Georgia and Alabama headlining the top league. There would be six leagues with 21 or 22 teams in each tier. The “super league” would still be intact, with massive TV deals being signed by the best teams. 

     Currently, these teams have two issues: financials and a dying fan base, however with the relegation system, these mid-major teams would be playing in meaningful, winnable games, week in and week out. This would help the lower level schools economically, as more people would be coming to the games.

     The only issue with this system is transfers. After the NCAA lost the supreme court case in 2021 that allows monetary gains to players based on their name, image and likeness, players have been transferring to different schools at a 20% increased rate. In the relegation system, teams that get relegated would most likely be broken up, as players who were in primetime wouldn’t benefit from playing in a smaller market. 

     I believe that the way to solve that issue would be to change the transfer rules. Regardless of what the NCAA decides on the “super league” issue, the rules for transferring have to be changed. Players not being able to transfer until after their sophomore year would make recruiting more important and would incentivize players to go play for good coaches instead of just going after the most money possible. 

     The NCAA constantly goes against what is best for the student-athletes, as one of the most money-hungry organizations in the world. From the previous strict rules on NIL deals, to making teams travel from coast to coast every other week, they refuse to take the initiative to change the collegiate athletic system that they control.




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