Oregon State athletic director Scott Barnes has expressed his interest in exploring a promotion/relegation model for college football, similar to what is used in European soccer leagues. He believes that such a system could create more competition and excitement for the fans and the players.
What is promotion/relegation?
Promotion/relegation is a system where teams move up or down between different divisions or tiers based on their performance in a season. For example, in the English Premier League, the top four teams qualify for the UEFA Champions League, the next three teams qualify for the UEFA Europa League, and the bottom three teams are relegated to the lower division, the English Football League Championship. The top three teams from the Championship are promoted to the Premier League, and so on.
Why is Barnes interested in this model?
Barnes said that he was intrigued by the idea of promotion/relegation after reading an article by ESPN’s Bill Connelly, who proposed a hypothetical scenario where college football had four tiers of 32 teams each, with four teams moving up or down each year. Barnes said that he liked the concept of creating more parity and opportunity for teams to compete at different levels.
“I think it’s an interesting concept,” Barnes said. “In terms of the model itself, I think there’s some merit to look at some form of hybrid model that does support that. We see it working in a similar fashion in Europe, and certainly it’s worthy of our study.”
Barnes also said that he was open to other ideas that could improve college football, such as expanding the playoff format, restructuring the conferences, or creating a super league of elite teams.
What are the challenges and benefits of this model?
Promotion/relegation is not a new idea for college football, but it has never been seriously considered or implemented. There are many challenges and obstacles that would prevent such a radical change from happening, such as:
- The loss of traditional rivalries and regional ties that are important for fans and alumni.
- The financial implications of moving between tiers, such as TV contracts, revenue sharing, scheduling, travel costs, and stadium capacity.
- The academic and athletic standards and eligibility requirements that vary across different divisions and conferences.
- The legal and political issues that could arise from antitrust lawsuits, conference realignment, or NCAA governance.
However, there are also some potential benefits and advantages of this model, such as:
- The increased competitiveness and excitement for teams and fans, as every game would matter more and have higher stakes.
- The opportunity for smaller or lower-ranked teams to rise up and challenge the established powers, creating more Cinderella stories and upsets.
- The incentive for teams to invest more in their programs and facilities, as well as recruit better players and coaches.
- The possibility of creating more diversity and representation across different regions and demographics.
What do other experts think?
Barnes is not the only one who has expressed curiosity or support for promotion/relegation in college football. Other experts and analysts have also weighed in on this topic, such as:
- ESPN’s Bill Connelly, who wrote the original article that inspired Barnes. He said that he was not advocating for promotion/relegation, but rather presenting a hypothetical scenario to spark discussion and debate. He also acknowledged the many challenges and drawbacks of this model.
- CBS Sports’ Dennis Dodd, who wrote a follow-up article that explored some of the pros and cons of promotion/relegation. He said that he was intrigued by the idea, but also skeptical about its feasibility and desirability. He also interviewed some coaches and administrators who had mixed opinions on this model.
- The Athletic’s Stewart Mandel, who wrote a column that criticized promotion/relegation as a “terrible idea” that would ruin college football. He said that he was opposed to any system that would diminish the importance of the regular season, reduce the number of meaningful games, or create more imbalance and inequality among teams.