College football inspires passion. It is nearly impossible to follow it without becoming energized by the schools, the colors, the fan bases, the rivalries and the history. I have been passionately following college football for decades, and as dramatic as the games can be, and as thrilling as the conference races can play out, there are aspects of college football that clearly can be done better.
So what if college football's inherent weaknesses could be turned into strengths? What if there was a new platform to address, in a tangible way, the shortcomings that are evident to anyone willing to honestly look at today’s college football landscape? The game is fantastic; the state of the game leaves a lot to be desired. I set out to do something about it.
And before you go asking, yes, my parents did have me tested (though I suspect they regret not taking me to that specialist in Towson).
Why Should I Care?
What if there was a college football simulation that encompassed all schools and all conferences, even the smallest and most obscure campuses? Why should the big boys have all the fun? If you are a student/fan of Mercer or Bloomsburg or Denison or Baker or Nebraska Wesleyan or (dare I mention them?) Trinity Bible, or hundreds of other small universities, why should you be excluded from the action? If your school is outside the Power 5 .... have no fear, your team is here. I'll go one better: even if your school doesn't play football, and never has played football, take a look around. There's a good chance you now have a team. You can now follow along, root for and make predictions on the results of their games. As this progresses, your skill could even win you cash and prizes.
Welcome to Ideal College Football
I love college football. And, if you're reading this, I suspect you also love college football. I've been late to family get-togethers because of college football (sorry, Mom). I've lost girlfriends over college football (sorry, Tamara). Any of this ringing a bell with you? Heck, I've missed dentist appointments because of college football. Which reminds me, gotta go floss -- be right back.
What you will see herein is a new landscape and, translating thought into action, the playing of a full season and postseason within this new Ideal landscape. Setting this in motion has been a genuine labor of love, and I am eager to see how it resonates with other college football fans. So hitch up your wagon, pilgrim, and join me on this memorable ride. Don't worry ya didn't pack nuthin', we'll stop for sarsaparilla and cotton candy the next town over.
But Wait .... There's More!
"So what the heck is so wrong with college football nowadays, young whippersnapper, and why the heck do you think you can fix it?" I hear you sneering. First of all, don't sneer; it's not nice. Didn't your momma learn you better'n that? But fair question. Let's get right to it. There are three main issues that need to be addressed in modern college football (and I'm the guy to do it because I'm the guy that's doin' it, that's why. Circular logic, I know.) So, the following are the primary issues that are addressed by Ideal College Football (ICFB).
The first issue that will be addressed is the nature of scheduling. Let's be honest, many FBS (I-A) teams do not challenge themselves in their nonconference schedule. And when I say "challenge themselves" I'm being generous. And this is no secret, right? We're all aware of it. Look, one tough game does not a challenging nonconference slate make. When it comes time to pick teams for bowls and have a discussion about rankings and national championships, the process of evaluating teams is subjective, even nebulous. That's right, nebulous. How can we have a discussion about assessing the best teams at the end of the season when they do not even play everyone within their own conference, much less an inspiring nonconference schedule with serious challenges in true road games? Read that sentence again.
Look, I’m not saying that all schools do this, and applaud the programs who do beef up their schedule. However, this creates even more imbalance, as teams arrive at the pinnacle of the regular season with wildly divergent criteria. Again, how do we assess teams under such lopsided conditions? Answer: we don't. But, in Ideal we do. Every result is assessed in real time using objective criteria. We do not determine the quality of a win or loss at the end of the season, when the games themselves were played months earlier. That don't make no sense. Victories do not 'get better or worse' as the season progresses. Nor do losses. You play teams when you play them, and you play them as they are then. There will be no retroactive ratings in Ideal; you'll know with every game where your team stands with regard to the postseason.
Back to reality. One result of this madness is that we regularly have weekends in November with a paucity of big games on the schedule. That's right, "paucity", the first of our fancy $20 words. There will be more. But seriously folks, how can any major sport arrive at the apex of its regular season with a dearth of meaningful games on its schedule?! I can guarantee you that won’t be the case with Ideal College Football. There will be a wealth of big games and traditional rivalry games as we near the climax of the regular season. And you'll be able to test your knowledge and skill picking as many games as you like. For more on scheduling, and Ideal’s answers to it, see here.
The second issue that desperately screams for an upgrade is the nature of the postseason, and by "upgrade" I am directly talking to you, FBS. Don't act like you don't hear me. The lack of a coherent postseason at the highest level of the sport is embarrassing. Bowl games are fun, but essentially meaningless. They are postseason exhibitions, nothing more. We can have fun and ensure that the postseason games actually mean something by instituting a single-elimination tournament that incorporates the bowl games. Makes sense, right? (and it's really easy to design.) Like many fans, I have long sought a true playoff in The Artist Formerly Known as Division I-A. I suspect you have, too. The NCAA is moving in this direction with the current four-team format (CFP), while assuring us that four teams is sufficient. It is not. Four teams is barely a playoff, and it is certainly not a tournament. People want tournaments. People want festivals, too, but that's a topic for another day. Ideal College Football will have a true postseason tournament, at every level, with full brackets and objective criteria for inclusion and seeding. More on the Ideal postseason here.
The third issue that needs rectifying is the nature of present-day conference alignments. Can we be frank? (Frank is saying "who else am I supposed to be?" Sit down, Frank, and put away that flowchart.) Look, the current conference alignments are a hot mess. In the money grab for television revenue, the fans have been left holding the bag as conferences morph into barely-recognizable entities. Let's start with a few illustrative examples: How can Oklahoma and Nebraska no longer be in the same conference? Kansas and Missouri? Texas and Arkansas, or Texas and Texas A&M? Utah and BYU? Louisville and Cincinnati? SMU and TCU? How on this blessed green earth is Maryland in the Big 10 with Midwestern schools rather than its rightful place in the ACC? How can Navy even be in a conference while Army is not? And can we talk about a system in which a conference calling itself the Big 10 has 14 schools, and another called the Big 12 has 10 schools? This is college, math shouldn't be difficult. Can anyone tell me how CUSA, the AAC and the Sun Belt differentiate themselves from each other? How many fans are emotionally tied into conferences that have little geographic identity and even fewer natural rivalries? Take a tour of Ideal’s conference infrastructure here and actual conference membership here. Methinks you'll say "Wow". Or perhaps something more expansive, it's up to you, no pressure.
Furthermore, these mega-conferences only serve to dilute the product. Again, illustrative examples: How can Florida not play Alabama every year, or Alabama not play Georgia every year? How can Michigan not play Iowa every year, or Michigan State not play Indiana every year? How much longer are fans going to remain engaged and loyal to conferences when many of their natural rivalries are played only a couple times a decade? It's this simple: you cannot determine a true conference champion unless every team plays every other team within conference. Once in football, twice in basketball. Ideal College Football returns us to that format. All of the traditional conference rivalries are intact, and they will play each other every season, and we will determine true conference pecking order on the field of play, where it belongs.
So click on the links below, or at the top. Read up on how Ideal is approaching these issues. Read up on the formation of all conferences. Then get involved by visiting our page on [patreon link]. There you can get engaged as deeply as you want. Did I mention the cash and prizes? And fame. And maybe a festival.
IDEAL COLLEGE FOOTBALL
Copyright © Steven Sugarman