Monday, March 30, 2009

Relegation and College Football

This week marks a lull in Wildcat sports between the inglorious end to a surprisingly frisky basketball season and the beginning of spring football speculation, with women's lacrosse season in the midst of pre-tourney doldrums. In addition, baseball season is still a week a way, and the Bulls and Hawks are comfortably locked into a inevitably disappointing playoff berths, which means it is time for some groundless speculation on ruining sports in the sprit of previous entires on an all-Chicago prebasketball tournament and a way to liven up the NIT that potentially does not end in gruesome death for all participants.


Once every two years, a major world soccer tournament rolls around and I get temporarily sucked into soccer fandom. It's easy to get sucked into international soccer because everyone cares unlike the gutless pinko heretics who decry the World Baseball Classic as a waste of time, and it is a good time to gain a dated knowledge of soccer stars who may or may not be washed up by the time the next tournament rolls around.

French midfielder Franck Ribery had a
great World Cup run in 2006, and then
disappeared from my consciousness until
he crashed the Bayern Munich team bus
in January. In the understated tradition
of the British tabloid, the website writes
that "The hotel were left fuming by the
damage and the fact that Ribery didn’t
have a bus driving licence, and
embarrassed Bayern general manager
Uli HoeneƟ had to suffer the consequences
of Ribery’s prankery."

European soccer, in addition from boasting homemade stadium pyrotechnics and films about hooliganism inexplicably starring Elijah Wood, has relegation, a brilliant system that adds drama to the bottom of the table as crappy teams attempt to avoid demotion to a lower-tiered league. For example, the 2007-8 Fulham team managed to avoid relegation from the Premiership with what fans called the "Great Escape" triggering celebratory youtube tribute videos about finishing in firmly in 17th place.

Fulham were captained by U.S. soccer legend and current Fire forward Brian McBride
getting a face full of elbow from Old Robert DeNiro, who showed no remorse at the post-game
press conference


If there's any sport that can benefit from relegation, it is college football. Much like the English Premiership, college football is top-heavy and dominated by a few heavyweights, with lower level teams in BCS conferences and non-BCS conference teams having little to play for but berths in crappy bowl games. While BYCTOM ardently supports all crappy bowl games, this is not enough. More importantly, high-level "BCS buster" teams such as Boise State have shown that they deserve a chance to prove themselves in BCS conferences and bedevil teams with trick plays such as The Annexation of Puerto Rico.

The Annexation of Puerto Rico infuriated both Ed O'Neil and Pedro

With the stark difference between BCS schools and mid-majors, annexation would work well for college football.


This model pairs BCS conferences with mid-major conferences-- the Big Ten and the MAC, the Big 12 with the Mountain West, the SEC with the Sun Belt, and the Pac 10 with the WAC. The winner of the mid-major conference moves up to the BCS conference and the team with the worst record in the BCS conference in relegated to the mid-major conference (sorted in priority by overall record with conference wins and head-to-head as tiebreakers.) Because there are six BCS teams and only five midmajor conferences, the ACC and Big East are both associated with Conference USA. The ACC swaps with the C-USA winner, while the Big East gets the Conference USA runner up. This is not perfect, but I use those conferences because C-USA is the mid-major with the most football teams and the Big East the BCS conference with the fewest.

Fig. 1: BCS-Mid-Major conference pairings.

Using the Big Ten as an example, Indiana would be relegated to the MAC East, replacing MAC champion Buffalo. This model privileges winners of conference championship games, especially as a way to make BCS conference fans more excited about mid-major conference championships other than ESPN's insane scrolling commentary from internet users and the Lloyd Bridges Glue Sniffing Society.

Fig. 2: Relegation in the Big Ten. Note that Indiana is relegated due to
conference losses, although alternate models may invoke the Michigan
Relegation Schadenfreude Clause which allows Michigan to be relegated
whenever vaguely plausible in order to bring delight to college football
fans across the Midwest

Imagine how great college football would be with relegation. The Sweet Sioux Rivalry would have had serious ramifications in the last decade. UCONN and Duke would regularly play meaningful games in November. Programs like Boise State and Utah could get into BCS bowls without questions about their schedules. Imagine the joy at watching Michigan fighting to avoid playing in the MAC East for the next year, or a team like Buffalo coming out of nowhere to get a chance to play in the Big Ten. Imagine coaches of relegated SEC teams not only get fired, but also thrown into a moat filled with alligators that travels from SEC school to SEC school on the back of a flatbed truck to placate legions disappointed overall enthusiasts.

Actual Auburn booster Jimmy "Yella Fella" Rane expresses his
displeasure with an inexplicably grizzled Tommy Tuberville


The last post ended with a possibly spurious claim that the Harmonicats are the greatest all-Harmonica band of all time. Recently, I have discovered a potential challenger with a band called the Philharmonicas, who gain bonus points for performing Raymond Scott's Powerhouse.

I don't know if the Philharmonicas and the Harmonicats ever met, but my guess that it would look like a tiny version of the end of Desperado.

1 comment:

John said...

We've discussed this before, and yes I think it's an excellent idea. Let it be said however that English football was not always as top-heavy as it is today. Avoiding relegation is huge though, and this is the first year in ages that the relegation dogfight hasn't been more interesting than the championship run-in.

Absolutely classic picture of Bobby DeNiro.