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My college football superconferences: four 16-team conferences. Yell at me.


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I read the first half of an article at The Athletic today about the future of college football until I got to something that said, "Please feel free to not share that Google Doc in which you reimagine college football with four 16-team leagues at the top and four 16-team leagues underneath and an elaborate procedure for promotion and relegation."

I tilted, so here's what I did:

  1. Find the top 64 teams.
  2. Divide them into conferences, using geography and history.

First, the answer, then the methodology.

Your four conferences (ranking before name):

West:

  • 06 USC
  • 10 Oregon
  • 14 Boise St
  • 21 Utah
  • 23 Stanford
  • 27 BYU
  • 28 Washington
  • 31 Kansas St
  • 33 Arizona St
  • 42 UCLA
  • 53 California
  • 55 Air Force
  • 56 Oregon St
  • 57 San Diego St
  • 62 Washington St
  • 63 Arizona

North

  • 01 Ohio St
  • 02 Oklahoma
  • 08 Wisconsin
  • 12 Notre Dame
  • 13 Oklahoma St
  • 15 Texas
  • 18 Iowa
  • 25 Michigan
  • 29 Michigan St
  • 30 Nebraska
  • 37 Cincinnati
  • 40 Northwestern
  • 45 Texas Tech
  • 47 Minnesota
  • 52 Iowa St
  • 60 Toledo

South

  • 03 Alabama
  • 04 Georgia
  • 07 LSU
  • 09 Florida
  • 11 Auburn
  • 16 TCU
  • 17 Texas A&M
  • 32 Missouri
  • 36 Tennessee
  • 38 Mississippi St
  • 41 Mississippi
  • 43 South Carolina
  • 44 Arkansas
  • 48 Baylor
  • 58 Houston
  • 59 Kentucky

East

  • 05 Clemson
  • 19 Penn St
  • 20 Virginia Tech
  • 22 Miami FL
  • 24 Florida St
  • 26 West Virginia
  • 34 Louisville
  • 35 North Carolina
  • 39 Pittsburgh
  • 46 NC State
  • 49 Georgia Tech
  • 50 Boston College
  • 51 UCF
  • 54 Navy
  • 61 Virginia
  • 64 Wake Forest
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How I got there:

Finding the top 64 teams is tough... eventually, I went to https://masseyratings.com/cf/arch/ and found the last rating for each season since the BCS began (1998), which is 23 years.  That's not perfect, but it's pretty decent.  I put all of those rankings into a spreadsheet, cleaned up some crappy name changes and such, and did a heavily weighted average based on how many years it's been.  23*this year + 22*last year + ... + 1*1998)/(sum of 1 to 23).  That gave me this ranking:

  1. Ohio St
  2. Oklahoma
  3. Alabama
  4. Georgia
  5. Clemson
  6. USC
  7. LSU
  8. Wisconsin
  9. Florida
  10. Oregon
  11. Auburn
  12. Notre Dame
  13. Oklahoma St
  14. Boise St
  15. Texas
  16. TCU
  17. Texas A&M
  18. Iowa
  19. Penn St
  20. Virginia Tech
  21. Utah
  22. Miami FL
  23. Stanford
  24. Florida St
  25. Michigan
  26. West Virginia
  27. BYU
  28. Washington
  29. Michigan St
  30. Nebraska
  31. Kansas St
  32. Missouri
  33. Arizona St
  34. Louisville
  35. North Carolina
  36. Tennessee
  37. Cincinnati
  38. Mississippi St
  39. Pittsburgh
  40. Northwestern
  41. Mississippi
  42. UCLA
  43. South Carolina
  44. Arkansas
  45. Texas Tech
  46. NC State
  47. Minnesota
  48. Baylor
  49. Georgia Tech
  50. Boston College
  51. UCF
  52. Iowa St
  53. California
  54. Navy
  55. Air Force
  56. Oregon St
  57. San Diego St
  58. Houston
  59. Kentucky
  60. Toledo
  61. Virginia
  62. Washington St
  63. Arizona
  64. Wake Forest

Craptactular teams that missed the cut, by increasing fecality:

  • Indiana
  • Colorado
  • Maryland
  • Purdue
  • Rutgers
  • Duke
  • Syracuse
  • Vanderbilt
  • Illinois
  • Kansas was 107th!!!
Edited by Tick
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So everything about the final result sucks, because no team could ever leave their big rivalry, like Texas/A&M or Oklahoma/Nebraska or Clemson/SC.

Some notes, though...

  • Non-Power-5 teams that got promoted: 14 Boise St, 27 BYU, 37 Cincinnati, 51 UCF, 54 Navy, 55 Air Force, 57 San Diego St, 58 Houston, 60 Toledo.
  • The Big 12 is really tough - map the Pac 12 to the West, Big 10 to the North, SEC to the South, and ACC to the East, then you're left with the Big 12 teams with no home... and there's no good way to distribute them, since you want to keep OU/Texas together, but that means OkSt and the lesser Texas schools want to tag along, and there's not room for that big of a clump in any league.
  • I was lucky when Kansas sucked, because K-St could be the 16th in the West, which was a really tough choice.  I guess they get Colorado back, which actually was a slight rivalry in the Big 12 North.
  • Nice to get a few of the old WAC teams back together.
  • Notre Dame belongs in the North, Penn St belongs in the East.
  • Big East reunion in the East is pretty cool.
  • I like that OU/Nebraska is back and Iowa St/Iowa are together.
  • The South and North are the best, and the East is weak, but the balance isn't as bad as I expected.
  • If I were cool, I'd have promotion/relegation with regional second division leagues... but I'm not.
Edited by Tick
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I like the idea but how about expanding it to 20 teams per conference - so you add 16 more teams.  The ones you left out plus maybe a Utah State and you could find some others.  Then you could have 9 division games, 3 non-division/conference games.  Top 2 advance from each division advance to Conference tournament semifinals.  Two games to be conference champion and two more to be national champs.  Sure, it’s 16 games so if that’s a non-starter then do 2 non-division games.

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3 minutes ago, AAABatteries said:

I like the idea but how about expanding it to 20 teams per conference - so you add 16 more teams.  The ones you left out plus maybe a Utah State and you could find some others.  Then you could have 9 division games, 3 non-division/conference games.  Top 2 advance from each division advance to Conference tournament semifinals.  Two games to be conference champion and two more to be national champs.  Sure, it’s 16 games so if that’s a non-starter then do 2 non-division games.

Nah, those teams suck.  64 sings to me.

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Split each conference in half, schedule is 7 games vs. your division, 3 vs. other division, 1 vs. a team in each other conference, total of 13.  Division winners make the 8-team playoff, not starting with a conference title game... mix 'em up.

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Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines!

When will the Army/Navy game happen, or would it be too mean to Army anymore?

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53 minutes ago, rockaction said:

Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines!

When will the Army/Navy game happen, or would it be too mean to Army anymore?

I guess Army should have been better.  They had 23 years to do it.  Maybe Navy skips playing the South conference so they can play Army or something.  It might be good to leave everyone a free game to play a local directional school or Rutgers.

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1 hour ago, Ted Lange as your Bartender said:

We need to add promotion and relegation to this like European soccer.  College football is perfect for the concept and imo the only American sport where it would work.

Yeah, do that.  Drop last place in every division, promote every D2 conference winner.  It would have to be regional also, but it would be cool to see South Dakota St make their way up into the West some year.  I just don’t know where schools like Old Dominion, Troy, or Liberty are, so I didn’t go further.  But yeah, Sun Belt and MAC schools need a path, and opening it up to Grand Valley St and such would be fun.

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9 hours ago, rockaction said:

Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines!

When will the Army/Navy game happen, or would it be too mean to Army anymore?

 

9 hours ago, Tick said:

I guess Army should have been better.  They had 23 years to do it.  Maybe Navy skips playing the South conference so they can play Army or something.  It might be good to leave everyone a free game to play a local directional school or Rutgers.

There's no chance of not having an Army / Navy game. Any plan not providing that fails immediately.

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Is the thought here to have separate conferences for football and basketball?

I'd think the better way would be to score the top sports and put together conferences based on sports programs.

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1 hour ago, -OZ- said:

Is the thought here to have separate conferences for football and basketball?

I'd think the better way would be to score the top sports and put together conferences based on sports programs.

Football only.  Plenty of sports already don’t follow conferences, like hockey.

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1 hour ago, -OZ- said:

 

There's no chance of not having an Army / Navy game. Any plan not providing that fails immediately.

There’s no chance of not having a Texas/A&M game.  Let Navy play Army - every team can have a free game for a second division game vs. a crappy rival.

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If teams can schedule fcs teams, I don’t see how a couple teams wouldn’t be able to schedule teams that aren’t top 64. Maybe have a two game maximum where you can schedule a team that’s not top 64 so rivalries can still exist. 

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10 hours ago, r0llin_game said:

If teams can schedule fcs teams, I don’t see how a couple teams wouldn’t be able to schedule teams that aren’t top 64. Maybe have a two game maximum where you can schedule a team that’s not top 64 so rivalries can still exist. 

One crap game each. If you want to play both Purdue and Illinois in the same season, get relegated.

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So you essentially took the best Big 10 teams minus Penn State and combined it with the Big 12 and threw in Notre Dame to boot?  Talk about a loaded region.  Iowa State at the 15th seed in the North is better than half the schools in the West.  Interesting idea but the divisions need work.  

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1 hour ago, Tick said:

One crap game each. If you want to play both Purdue and Illinois in the same season, get relegated.

I was thinking along the lines Army/Navy/Air Force. 
 

if we going recency bias too, no way arizona is above Indiana. I know you have a 23 season sample size but there should be some more weight towards the last five or so seasons. Especially from what would be relegation/promotion the next season, going from a 23 year sample size to just one seems crazy. 

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7 hours ago, r0llin_game said:

I was thinking along the lines Army/Navy/Air Force. 
 

if we going recency bias too, no way arizona is above Indiana. I know you have a 23 season sample size but there should be some more weight towards the last five or so seasons. Especially from what would be relegation/promotion the next season, going from a 23 year sample size to just one seems crazy. 

It’s severely weighted to recent seasons.  This year was worth 23x what 1998 was worth.  Last year was worth 22x 1998.  2018 was 21x 1998, etc.  Indiana just sucked too much for too long to make up for it with a couple of decent seasons.

Also keep in mind that the whole Pac 12 got hosed this season (the most heavily weighted) by the reduced Pac 12 schedule.  That still wasn’t enough to bail Indiana out of being in that brutal division.

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8 hours ago, Pipes said:

So you essentially took the best Big 10 teams minus Penn State and combined it with the Big 12 and threw in Notre Dame to boot?  Talk about a loaded region.  Iowa State at the 15th seed in the North is better than half the schools in the West.  Interesting idea but the divisions need work.  

The south is just as strong, maybe even stronger.  Anywhere you sent OU, Ok St, and Texas was going to be tough.  They just didn’t fit geographically in the west, and sending them to the South makes the concentration of top teams even worse.

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Okay, get angrier about me screwing up your favorite rivalry.  Divisions (average ranking listed):

West 1 (Avg 38.8) All Pac 10 buddies, 2 had to go, I sent Oregon/OSt for balance reasons.  

  • 06 USC
  • 23 Stanford
  • 28 Washington
  • 33 Arizona St
  • 42 UCLA
  • 53 California
  • 62 Washington St
  • 63 Arizona

West 2 (Avg 33.9) Newcomers plus Oregon schools.

  • 10 Oregon
  • 14 Boise St
  • 21 Utah
  • 27 BYU
  • 31 Kansas St
  • 55 Air Force
  • 56 Oregon St
  • 57 San Diego St

North 1 (Avg 25) Big 10, traded out NW for Toledo for balance, but still the group of death.

  • 01 Ohio St
  • 08 Wisconsin
  • 12 Notre Dame
  • 18 Iowa
  • 25 Michigan
  • 29 Michigan St
  • 47 Minnesota
  • 60 Toledo

North 2 (Avg 29.3) Big 12 buddies plus Cincy and NW as mentioned above.

  • 02 Oklahoma
  • 13 Oklahoma St
  • 15 Texas
  • 30 Nebraska
  • 37 Cincinnati
  • 40 Northwestern
  • 45 Texas Tech
  • 52 Iowa St

South 1 (29.6) SEC buddies minus Alabama/Auburn for balance reasons.

  • 04 Georgia
  • 07 LSU
  • 09 Florida
  • 36 Tennessee
  • 38 Mississippi St
  • 41 Mississippi
  • 43 South Carolina
  • 59 Kentucky

South 2 (28.6) SWC/Big12 buddies plus the Alabama schools for balance.

  • 03 Alabama
  • 11 Auburn
  • 16 TCU
  • 17 Texas A&M
  • 32 Missouri
  • 44 Arkansas
  • 48 Baylor
  • 58 Houston

East 1 (39.8) ACC buddies, Louisville included 

  • 05 Clemson
  • 24 Florida St
  • 34 Louisville
  • 35 North Carolina
  • 46 NC State
  • 49 Georgia Tech
  • 61 Virginia
  • 64 Wake Forest

East 2 (35.1) Big East buddies plus UCF/Navy.

  • 19 Penn St
  • 20 Virginia Tech
  • 22 Miami FL
  • 26 West Virginia
  • 39 Pittsburgh
  • 50 Boston College
  • 51 UCF
  • 54 Navy

Overall thoughts: I'm happy with this.  The Oregon and Alabama schools could complain about lost rivalries or be happy about joining weaker divisions with better paths to titles.  Same for Northwestern.  I was really happy about the Big East and Big 12 clumps in North 2 and East 2.

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I agree with your overall concept.  I believe it may be more palatable if you get away from the geographic conference names and use something different (coaches names, bowl game affiliations, etc.).  Anything other than North/East/South/West.

🤷🏼‍♂️

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2 minutes ago, cheeseypoof said:

I agree with your overall concept.  I believe it may be more palatable if you get away from the geographic conference names and use something different (coaches names, bowl game affiliations, etc.).  Anything other than North/East/South/West.

🤷🏼‍♂️

It was Adams/Norris/Smythe/Patrick at one point.

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Division names (top ranked team's most notable BCS coach):

West 1 = Carroll, West 2 = Kelly

North 1 = Meyer, North 2 = Stoops

South 1 = Richt, South 2 = Saban

North 1 = Swinney, North 2 = Uh oh... Paterno.

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It's an interesting concept, but unless you want to separate the south you're going to have a hard time balancing things really.

Tick does about as well as possible but bama would roll every year even more than they do already.

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1 hour ago, -OZ- said:

It's an interesting concept, but unless you want to separate the south you're going to have a hard time balancing things really.

Tick does about as well as possible but bama would roll every year even more than they do already.

There's not much you can do to avoid Oklahoma, Ohio St, Alabama, and Clemson winning their division most years.

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7 minutes ago, BassNBrew said:

You forgot AppState.  Been to a bowl every year eligible and is 6-0.

97th. They got zeroes for the years they weren't D1.  They can get promoted in year 1 if they beat out Duke, Syracuse, Rutgers, and Marshall.

Edited by Tick
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Current division average ranks:

Pac 12 north: 38.7, Pac 12 south: 38.7 (wow)

Big 12: 56.4 (Kansas)

Big 10 East: 41.1, Big 10 West 43.1

SEC west: 23, SEC east: 38.1

ACC atlantic: 43.4, ACC coastal: 43.7

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1 hour ago, FairWarning said:

I wouldn’t put Toledo in over any big 10 team. The weight of playing a big 10 schedule for 25 years is far greater than a MAC schedule. 

I just weighted Massey ratings by year.  For reference, Toledo is 4-7 (36%) vs. the Big 10 over the 23 years, Illinois is 35-105 (25%).

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4 minutes ago, Tick said:

I just weighted Massey ratings by year.  For reference, Toledo is 4-7 (36%) vs. the Big 10 over the 23 years, Illinois is 35-105 (25%).

And this is where it fails IMO.  Illinois is getting a combo of Michigan, Mich St, Ohio St, Penn St, Wisc, and Iowa every year.  Toledo is getting one big 10 team every other year, and it’s none of them outside of Mich 1-2 times.  

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It’s just a starting point based on relative strengths over the BCS/CFP era.  If you’re right, Toledo will get relegated and replaced by Indiana or Illinois.

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On 1/20/2021 at 1:12 AM, Tick said:

Yeah, do that.  Drop last place in every division, promote every D2 conference winner.  It would have to be regional also, but it would be cool to see South Dakota St make their way up into the West some year.  I just don’t know where schools like Old Dominion, Troy, or Liberty are, so I didn’t go further.  But yeah, Sun Belt and MAC schools need a path, and opening it up to Grand Valley St and such would be fun.

Old Dominion & Liberty are in Virginia. Troy is in Alabama IIRC. 

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On 1/20/2021 at 11:45 AM, Tick said:

There’s no chance of not having a Texas/A&M game.  Let Navy play Army - every team can have a free game for a second division game vs. a crappy rival.

Texas and A&M haven’t played since the Aggies went to the SEC. I’m not sure that’s a deal breaker. 

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On 1/21/2021 at 9:17 PM, Tick said:

97th. They got zeroes for the years they weren't D1.  They can get promoted in year 1 if they beat out Duke, Syracuse, Rutgers, and Marshall.

Based on this you must be employed by the NCAA.97th 🤣

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2 hours ago, BassNBrew said:

Based on this you must be employed by the NCAA.97th 🤣

I set a cutoff of the BCS/CFB era.  App St gets no credit for the years they weren't D1 in that era.

It shouldn't matter, though - if they're one of the best of the leftovers (Duke, Syracuse, Maryland, Rutgers, Marshall, Temple, Liberty, Coastal Carolina, East Carolina, USF, Buffalo) they'll get promoted in year one and if they're better than the worst of the East, they'll stick.

Also, I can't seem to find USF in my charts... I'll see what's up.  ETA: Never mind, they're 72nd.

Edited by Tick
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Second division... I cut UMass and New Mexico St. because they stink.  Crappy Texas teams got moved around a lot to get 16 in each region.

West:

  • 67 Colorado
  • 71 Nevada
  • 77 Fresno St
  • 79 SMU
  • 86 Hawaii
  • 90 San Jose
  • 92 Colorado St
  • 93 Utah St
  • 94 Wyoming
  • 105 New Mexico
  • 107 Kansas
  • 111 North Texas
  • 115 UNLV
  • 119 UTSA
  • 125 UTEP
  • 128 Texas St

North

  • 66 Indiana
  • 68 Tulsa
  • 69 Marshall
  • 74 Purdue
  • 75 N Illinois
  • 76 W Michigan
  • 82 Ball St
  • 85 Illinois
  • 89 C Michigan
  • 98 Ohio
  • 100 Bowling Green
  • 108 Kent
  • 109 Rice
  • 110 Miami OH
  • 113 Akron
  • 114 E Michigan

South

  • 65 Memphis
  • 72 South Florida
  • 73 Louisiana Tech
  • 84 Vanderbilt
  • 88 Southern Miss
  • 91 Arkansas St
  • 96 Troy
  • 99 W Kentucky
  • 102 Tulane
  • 103 UAB
  • 112 Ga Southern
  • 116 Louisiana
  • 118 Middle Tenn
  • 122 UL Monroe
  • 123 Georgia St
  • 127 South Alabama

East

  • 70 Maryland
  • 78 Rutgers
  • 80 Duke
  • 81 Syracuse
  • 83 Temple
  • 87 East Carolina
  • 95 Buffalo
  • 97 Appalachian St
  • 101 Army
  • 104 FL Atlantic
  • 106 Connecticut
  • 117 Florida Intl
  • 121 Coastal Car
  • 124 Liberty
  • 129 Old Dominion
  • 130 Charlotte
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3 hours ago, Tom Servo said:

Texas and A&M haven’t played since the Aggies went to the SEC. I’m not sure that’s a deal breaker. 

Yeah, that's the point.  There's no way you can split up rivalries, until you do.  Arkansas/Texas, OU/Nebraska, Texas/A&M, Utah/BYU were inseparable.

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