Connelly for Commissioner Promotion and Relegation

As commissioner, I will ...

5. Pursue a promotion-and-relegation conference structure for all of NCAA football.

The short version:

  • Your conference affiliation is impacted by which programs you buddied up to 100 years ago. It has little to do with what you’ve accomplished, or proved you could accomplish, on the field in modern times.
  • The conference you happen to be in thus determines so much about your standing in the sport, from your revenue to your competition to your chance at a title.
  • As things stand, more than half of FBS begins a season with no realistic path to the national title. I will fix this in part by expanding the Playoff to eight teams with a mandatory Group of 5 bid, but that only addresses the top level. Why shouldn't an FCS team be able to upgrade its competition simply by winning? The same for Division II and III.
  • European soccer long ago introduced promotion and relegation, or breaking one enormous league — England’s Football League or Germany’s Deutscher Fußball-Bund, for instance — into tiers. The top teams in a league’s tier get to move up, and the bottom teams have to move down. (See below for how this would work in CFB.)
  • This not only creates a more merit-based top tier, it creates drama at the bottom of each level, where desperate teams face must-win games to avoid relegation. Imagine 2016 ending with Virginia having to put its ACC spot on the line in a game against FCS champ James Madison. You'd watch that.
  • Aside from maybe college basketball, no American sport — not even soccer — would benefit from or more seamlessly fit this than college football. We have so many teams, in every part of the country, with such clearly defined levels of prestige to strive for.

The long version:

Photo by Matthew Holst/Getty Images

Boise State, BYU, Houston, Toledo, and other real-life outcasts keep earning their way into our power conferences, and underachievers that long ago lucked into prestigious spots keep tumbling behind hungrier programs.

In that latest article’s 2005-2015 simulation, FCS dynasty North Dakota State has risen all the way into the Big Ten’s Tier I, and it’ll stay there until it finishes last in the conference. (Since NDSU beat Iowa in the real 2016, that’ll probably be a while.)

Meanwhile, Kansas has just fallen all the way into the Big 12’s Tier III, alongside Incarnate Word and Southeast Louisiana.

That all sounds fairer than a Power 5 bottom-dweller being able to vote to keep a serious mid-major down, right?

We'd need really fair schedules to make this work. Otherwise, lopsided schedules could really hurt a program.

Got it covered. We're going to make division scheduling fair by killing divisions and balance non-conference scheduling via a trick or two.

Connelly for Commissioner