We are all sick of seeing teams schedule an endless array of fluff in their OOC schedule. Everyone is to blame, including ourselves - when we fail to exault a team with a major OOC win over teams with equal records against fluff we remove any incentive for teams not to take the 1st month off.
Stealing a page from college basketball, why not schedule in week 2 and/or week 3 of the season a conference wide match up between 2 major conferences. This would substantially end the concept of not playing anyone as each team would play someone expected to finish at about the same level as themselves. It is far better than the current system - if a teams wants to schedule a notable opponent, they must do so 4 to 8 years in advance, guessing the quality of a team comprised of players who have not played a single down.
Sounds interesting, but is it workable?
Logistics When the weeks are scheduled years in advance, the teams don't know who they will play, just whether it will be at home or away and the conference of their opponent.
1+ month before the season the coaches make their predictions of their conference from top to bottom. This ranking is used to set the schedule.
2 conferences face off, matched, top to bottom. If the conferences have a different number of teams, the odd team(s) in the middle go into a pool.
The following year they face off again with the home/away schedule reversed.
The teams in the pool play a home game against a team outside the major conferences looking for a payout. (You get a lesser name team, but you also get an additional home game - a fair trade.)
Logistics - CHECK
Benefits The revenue payoff could be huge from broadcasting rights as regional ratings go thru the roof, and sports writers have a field day with the hype. The revenue could be further increased if the games are spread out over 2, 3, or even 4 days around the week end.
For the teams, it would be a great opportunity to know they will get to face off against a major conference teams expected to be on about the same level as themselves - not a wild guess scheduling an opponent 4 to 8 years in advance.
The Athletic Directors could still use the other 3 weeks to get their 7 home games a year. Of course, any time you mention revenue, they are all ears (and rightfully so).
Financial Benefits - CHECK
Other Benefits - CHECK
AD Concerns Addressed - CHECK
The Drawback would be for teams fearful of not achieving bowl eligibility or losing revenue. To alleviate this, teams would be given the option of declaring they intend to participate in only 1 or no games when the schedule is set. Participation is fully voluntary on a team by team basis.
Downside Addressed and Resolved - CHECK
The Other Upsides Gone is much (though not all) of the speculation as to who should get the invite to the title game and the BCS (as many of the candidates would have likely faced off earlier in the year). Gone are the rants about not playing anyone or the rants about not traveling outside their region.
If they are no longer just speculating about relative conference strength, if each team finds themselves facing off against at least 1 opponent a year from the major conferences, whatever will the writers, homers, and newbies find to rant about?
Fan Benefits - CHECK (mostly - depends on who you are - for many here it would be their nightmare)
Is this viable, or should it be shelved with other ideas like a playoff and perpetual motion? 57 of the 65 teams (88%) play at least 1 regular season inter-conference game against another major conference this year. Most of the other 8 play an inter-conference game in most years. Implementing this for 1 week would be a done deal.
1 Game a Year Support - CHECK
Only 24 (37%) play 2 or more regular season inter-conference games this year. A substantial increase in broadcast revenue would be needed to garner support for a 2nd week of games against another conference. It may be necessary to spread out the games over 4 weeks to get the necessary revenue boost.
2 Games a Year Support - Needs Work
Unlike the playoff idea, there are no drawbacks (as long as participation is optional), there is no major restructuring of the season or bowls or NCAAF, and there are sufficient upsides.
Exist Along Side the Current Structure - CHECK
In fact, this doesn't require the approval of all teams, all conferences, or even NCAA involvement. This doesn't even require a majority or a consensus. This is a new way to schedule 1 or 2 games a year by teams who voluntarily put their names in the hat.
Sufficient Support - CHECK
Before you drop your homer dribble... I've looked up how the conferences fared when you make an apples to apples comparison of the match ups based on how they finished in their conferences - the results aren't what you likely believe you "Know."
Credits I somewhat stole this idea, building on an old blog of xxx84xxx's. For this mention, I add 2 general insults or 1 head shot remark to my bank.
What do you think? In all honesty, with the combination of revenue and the option not to participate I see this as wholly viable, and a done deal for 1 game a year.