Talk of Big 12 schools leaving the conference for greener pastures means the future of college football has become a hot topic yet again. There’s speculation that longtime rivals Texas and Oklahoma will leave for the SEC. We’ve also heard of Kansas and Iowa State heading to the Big Ten. It makes one wonder if the Big 12 even has a future as a Power Five conference.
Then, amidst all that discussion, you see tweets like this from Statistically Speaking Podcast host Kyle Umlang:
Notre Dame no longer being an independent aside, this graphic gives you pause. Note that some Group of Five schools have been bumped up to Power Five status. “Some” is the key word here. Most of them remain on the outside looking in.
The point is the Power Five conferences only are going to get bigger as time goes on. Unless they eventually admit all Group of Five schools, which is unlikely, what’s even the point of those schools trying to compete with the big boys? Invitations to major bowls already are hard to come by for them, and the new College Football Playoff proposal only serves to benefit the Power Five even more.
Given all of this, there is only one solution: Break the Group of Five conferences away from the Power Five, and let them compete for their own championship. The likes of Northern Illinois and UAB have no hope of winning a national championship under the current or future structure. A new playoff system just for them would at least give them a shot at adding serious hardware to their trophy case. No reasonable college football observer can say they have one now.
Power Five schools still would be allowed to schedule Group of Five schools if they wish, just like they currently do with Football Championship Subdivision Schools. After all, Nick Saban is well within his right to schedule lesser opponents just ahead of the Iron Bowl, as cheap as that is. However, it no longer does any good for the Power Five and Group of Five to compete under the same umbrella. The Group of Five schools barely ever has a shot at New Year’s Six bowls anymore, let alone a national title. That structure is keeping these programs from growing, and they’re stuck where they are as a result.
Let’s discontinue this charade of all Football Bowl Subdivision schools being on equal footing. It’s not true, and everyone knows it. By starting a new playoff for the Group of Five, there would be more opportunities for those schools to play for high stakes, and that would be better for the development of both the players and coaches. When the best you realistically can hope for is a conference championship, something is amiss. At least with March Madness, every Division I conference has a shot at standing above the rest.
Let’s add yet another champion to the college football season. Some might call it a cheap move, but is it any better than what we have now? Heck, the new Division I subdivision can take some of the bowls its team already gets sent to. Would it really bother the Power Five schools if they didn’t get to go to the New Orleans Bowl or Bahamas Bowl?
The national championship is the goal for every team. Give the Group of Five teams a chance. It’s time to set them free from the grips of the Power Five.