BYU Football: Regional Alternative to the 2020 Schedule
If the NCAA Football season can not go forward as previously planned, it should adopt a regional approach.
With the college football season just over 100 days away, it is becoming more and more likely that college football will not take place in the way that it has in the past. The suggestions for the modified season range from cancelling the season completely to only playing conference games. In total there have been at least five formats that have gained significant national attention.
But there is one idea that makes more sense than all of them, but to my knowledge has not been brought up, except my me. Play a regional schedule.
This regional schedule would group together 11 teams that are in the same region between FBS and FCS schools. That would give each team 10 games with a champion being crowned from a head to head tie-breaker.
The champion would then enter a giant 24 team tournament to crown the National Champion. I will break it all down below.
Obviously different regions of the country would have more or less P5/G5/FCS schools. Because of that, half of the games will be home games and half will be away games. The schedule will be random and have no bias towards the school. All games that would have been played anyway (Boise State vs BYU) will remain as it would have been as to not allow a team play three years in a row in the same location.
Because of this, you could potentially have teams like Alabama playing in North Alabama's stadium or Washington State playing at Idaho State. In the case of BYU, they could potentially play at Dixie State.
This would make for an interesting and one time situation where teams play in stadiums they would otherwise never play in. Because fans likely won't be allowed at stadiums anyway, ticket sales wouldn't be affected.
For BYU, their region would consist of FBS teams BYU, Utah, Boise State, Utah State, UNLV, and Wyoming. The FCS schools would consist of Idaho, Weber State, Southern Utah, Dixie State and Northern Arizona.
A potential BYU schedule would look like this:
While this isn't the most exciting home schedule for BYU, with no or very limited fans, will it really matter? The TV deals would remain the same and it would at least create matchups that would be more interesting than having no football at all.
Another good reason to use this format would be for the Coronavirus exposure. Hopefully this wouldn't be an issue, but if there were to be a player or team that were to get infected with the coronavirus, only the regional conference would have to shut down as opposed to the entire league.
That is a big reason why the NBA had to shut down as quickly as it did. Granted it was going to get shut down anyway, but because it takes up to 14 days for symptoms to show up, by the time Rudy Gobert was diagnosed with COVID-19 the Jazz and their opponents who they had played in the prior two weeks had played all across the country ranging from LA to Toronto. Nearly every team in the NBA could be connected either to the Jazz, and opponent to the Jazz or an opponent to an opponent of the Jazz within those two weeks.
Let's go back to the division BYU would play in. If a player on BYU were to be tested positive for the virus, then it would be easy to go back and check their prior two opponents and then the opponent of the first prior team.
Essentially this would keep things to four teams to be tested. Theoretically, there could still be some games played between the seven teams who had no two week contact with BYU/opponents of BYU in the 14 day period. Later in the season with the Week Z, a makeup game could be played anywhere where a game was unable to be played earlier in the season.
Finally, what if there is a flare up in a portion of the country with COVID-19. If it were to happen in Florida, suddenly, under the Conference/Conference +1 formats, the ACC, SEC, AAC and Sun Belt conference are all going to be affected drastically. In this format, only the Florida division would be affected as opposed to about 40% of college football teams. Is it perfect? No, but it is better than nothing.
One of the biggest concerns with playing a regular season is the travel of players, fans and other personnel. With all the teams being in the same region, some teams wouldn't have to fly at all, and the rest would only have to fly a few times. Obviously UNLV would want to fly to Laramie, Boise or Pocatello, but all of the other games are less than a six hour drive. All of the Utah teams would likely only need one, maximum two flights, and the out of Utah schools would only need two to three flights maximum.
Considering a flight process takes anywhere from 3-5 hours anyway, if it is only an hour or two further why not bus?
Also, with so many teams only a few hours away, some games may not even require hotels more than one day, if at all. BYU likely wouldn't need to stay at a hotel when playing Weber State, Utah, or Utah State. SUU wouldn't need to stop for the night for Dixie State, Northern Arizona or UNLV.
That would mean that a team would only have to lodge three times all season. Obviously UNLV, Wyoming and Boise State would require more, but it would still be more limited than normal.
Some conferences such as in the Louisiana division would have all 11 schools in the state of Louisiana. The furthest game would be between two teams would be Grambling State and SE Louisiana, a distance of only four hours. Those two would likely be the only game that would even require lodging. Other divisions such as in Illinois, East Texas, Floridia, Ohio and the Northeast would be in a similar situation.
We all know that NCAA lost a LOT of money from spring sports, and particularly the NCAA Tournament which has a direct impact on the schools. Teams need to save money and this would do that.
With only needing two or three flights, three nights of lodging and no expensive cross country trips, the money saved in the model would be drastic. Again, in a division like Illinois, the costs would be nearly the same amount of a high school team.
Giant College Football Playoff
Want to prove you deserve to be in the playoff UCF? Win your division that would include Florida, Florida State, Miami and Georgia. North Dakota State, do you want to prove once and for all you deserve to be in the FBS? Win a few games in the tournament. After the 24 divisions crown their champion, they will be ranked in the same way that any poll is put together. After ranking those 24 teams, the top eight would automatically move onto the second round as the 1-8 seeds.
Teams 9-24 would play each other in the first round and then move onto the next round to play the 1-8 seeds.
I drew up a potential bracket below as reference.
This would make a really fun one time tournament that would give every FCS/FBS school an opportunity at the start of the season to be the national champion.
While some may say that this tournament is too long, consider that the National Champion will have played 14 or 15 games, the exact same amount as they currently do to be crowned the champion under normal circumstances.
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While this may not be the best possible scenario, it would for sure be interesting, fun, a different pace, and who knows, maybe it would inspire something in the future that would be good for the game such as an expanded playoff, adding teams to the FBS, downgrading teams to the FCS, or restructuring conferences.