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What an 80-team, 8-division college football “Super League” would have looked like last season

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A college football “Super League”? It may not be as far-fetched – or far away – as once thought. But what would it look like if it became a reality?

Based on the broad outlines discussed by the 20-member group that announced a plan to one day renew college football's top flight, we decided to see what impact such a setup would have had if it had already been implemented , where we used the 2023 season as a test case.

We organized the former Power 5 schools, as well as independent Notre Dame and future ACC member SMU, into seven 10-team divisions for the permanent 70 teams envisioned in the College Sports Tomorrow plan. For the eighth 10-team division, which would be subject to promotion and relegation, we took participants from the 2022 Group of 5 Leagues Conference Championship game and “promoted” them to 2023.

Due to the division size limit of 10 teams, we had to take some liberties. So be prepared for some unique and potentially unpleasant situations. But it also allowed us to rekindle some old rivalries. (Welcome back, Southwest Conference and Big East!)

We used teams' 2023 regular season records prior to the conference championship games to seed them for the proposed 16-team playoffs. The eight division winners took the first eight seeds and the eight wild cards took the remaining seeds. Where there was ambiguity, we defaulted to the second-to-last 2023 College Football Playoff rankings (which is why Georgia is No. 1 and Michigan is No. 2).

Below is the result of our hypothetical 2023 College Football Super League.

ACC

team In total Conference 2023

12-0

8-0 (ACC)

9-3

6-2 (ACC)

8-4

4-4 (ACC)

8-4

4-4 (ACC)

7-5

4-4 (ACC)

7-5

4-5 (Big Ten)

6-6

5-3 (ACC)

5-7

3-5 (sec.)

3-9

2-6 (ACC)

4-8

1-7 (ACC)

We kept eight current ACC teams in this division, brought back former member Maryland, and added South Carolina, which was a charter member of the ACC until it left in 1971 to become independent. Florida State gets the rightful playoff spot it was denied by the College Football Playoff Selection Committee, but there are no wild cards emerging from this group.

Great East

team In total Conference 2023

10-2

7-1 (ACC)

9-3

8-4

6-3 (Big 12)

7-5

3-5 (ACC)

6-6

5-3 (ACC)

6-6

3-5 (ACC)

6-6

3-6 (Big Ten)

6-6

2-6 (ACC)

3-9

2-6 (ACC)

3-9

1-8 (Big 12)

Notre Dame has vehemently clung to its independent status despite the current wave of realignment changes, but to be part of that Super League vision, the Fighting Irish would have to play within a division. We place them in the revitalized Big East, where they were basketball members from 1995 to 2013. They join a host of former Big East members returning, and '23 ACC runner-up Louisville occupies an automatic playoff spot.

Big Ten

team In total Conference 2023

12-0

9-0 (Big Ten)

11-1

8-1 (Big Ten)

10-2

7-2 (Big Ten)

10-2

7-2 (Big Ten)

7-5

5-4 (Big Ten)

5-7

3-6 (Big Ten)

5-7

3-6 (Big Ten)

4-8

3-6 (Big Ten)

4-8

2-7 (Big Ten)

3-9

1-8 (Big Ten)

Reconstituting the Big Ten presented a dilemma: return to the original ten members (minus Penn State) or dismiss one of them in favor of the Nittany Lions? Knowing that college football decision-makers are usually on the side of money and not history, Penn State is allowed to stay while Northwestern unfortunately eliminates one team or another. The conference is full, with four teams represented in 2023.

Frequent flyer department

team In total Conference 2023

10-2

6-2 (SEC)

8-4

6-3 (Big 12)

8-4

5-4 (Big 12)

8-4

5-4 (Pac-12)

7-5

6-3 (Big 12)

7-5

5-4 (Big Ten)

6-6

3-6 (Big 12)

5-7

3-6 (Big Ten)

5-7

2-7 (Big 12)

4-8

1-8 (Pac-12)

It wouldn't be college football without a division with difficult geography. Look at the FFD — I couldn't think of a better name — which has six former Big 8 members but also includes schools excluded from other geographically appropriate divisions: BYU, Utah and UCF. Missouri wins the league and racks up a lot of miles along the way.

Pac-10

team In total Conference 2023

12-0

9-0 (Pac-12)

11-1

8-1 (Pac-12)

9-3

7-2 (Pac-12)

8-4

5-4 (Pac-12)

7-5

5-4 (Pac-12)

7-5

4-5 (Pac-12)

6-6

4-5 (Pac-12)

5-7

2-7 (Pac-12)

3-9

2-7 (Pac-12)

3-9

2-7 (Pac-12)

Remember the famous Western College Football Conference that was a lot of fun last year and produced one of the two teams playing for the national championship? We put it back together, but in a smaller version, the old Pac-10. Washington takes the automatic spot and No. 3 seed, while Oregon secures a spot as the top-seeded wild card team.

SEC

team In total Conference 2023

12-0

8-0 (SEC)

11-1

8-0 (SEC)

10-2

6-2 (SEC)

9-3

6-2 (SEC)

8-4

4-4 (SEC)

7-5

3-5 (sec.)

6-6

3-5 (sec.)

5-7

3-5 (sec.)

5-7

1-7 (SEK)

2-10

0-8 (sec.)

Although many want to be in the SEC, to accomplish this task we have returned to the ten founding members who still remain in the league. Not surprisingly, several teams will be sent to the postseason: Georgia, Alabama and Ole Miss.

southwest

team In total Conference 2023

11-1

8-1 (Big 12)

10-2

8-0 (AAC)

10-2

7-2 (Big 12)

9-3

7-2 (Big 12)

7-5

4-4 (SEC)

6-6

5-4 (Big 12)

5-7

3-6 (Big 12)

4-8

2-7 (Big 12)

4-8

1-7 (SEK)

3-9

2-7 (Big 12)

Long live the defunct Southwest Conference. Eight of the nine SWC teams are back together, with only Rice missing, which would compete in the 50-team second division. To fill the other two spots, we stole from the old Big 8 by taking Oklahoma and Oklahoma State.

This division brought with it two problems. By moving SMU – the AAC champion that will join the ACC in 2024 – here, we will have two 2023 conference champions in the league. We gave Texas a nod because of the team's overall talent advantage.

Additionally, Oklahoma State beat Oklahoma head-to-head, but the teams had identical conference records and Oklahoma had the better overall record and a higher CFP ranking. How would Super League handle wildcard tiebreakers in this scenario? The NFL – which appears to be the model this plan most closely follows – has an overall record, so the Sooners get the nod for this exercise.

Promotion/relegation

team In total Conference 2023

11-1

8-0 (AAC)

11-1

8-0 (MAC)

10-2

7-1 (Sun Belt)

9-3

6-2 (MAC)

8-4

7-1 (Sun Belt)

8-4

4-4 (Mountain West)

7-5

6-2 (Mountain West)

7-5

5-3 (Sun Belt)

5-7

4-4 (AAC)

5-7

3-5 (CUSA)

For those of us who love Group 5 ball, this is a fun, competitive, high stakes division. Tulane wins the division and the playoff spot. An important question: Would stakeholders allow wild cards from this division, or would those eight playoff spots just come from the permanent 70? That is an unknown. Let's once again follow the typical behavior of power brokers in college sports and assume that only the division winner gets a nod here – an unfortunate break for Toledo. Here's hoping we're wrong and wildcards from this division are given equal consideration.

There are few details about how many teams would be relegated. So let's assume that teams with record defeats make it out. That means the Navy and North Texas would be shot down. Which two teams will advance to their places? The teams with the best 2023 regular season records not in this group are Liberty (12-0), James Madison (11-1), Miami-Ohio (10-2), New Mexico State (10-3 ). and Memphis (9-3). Liberty and JMU receive the call to the big show.

The new playoffs

Here's how the seedings would have turned out with the above setup: The eight division winners would have received the top eight seeds and the wild cards would have filled out the field. In the absence of a complete tiebreaker structure, we seeded based on the second-to-last CFP rankings (prior to conference championship weekend). Although SMU defeated Tulane in the AAC title game, they are out of the top eight because they are no longer in the same division as the Green Wave.

First round

(1) Georgia about (16) SMU
(9)Oregon via (8) Tulane
(5) Texas over (12) Penn State
(13) Ole Miss over (4) Florida State
(11) Alabama about (6) Missouri
(3)Washington via (14) Oklahoma
(10) Ohio State via (7) Louisville
(2) Michigan over (15) Iowa

Quarter finals

We get some juggernaut games here, including a rematch between Michigan and Ohio State.

(1) Georgia via (9) Oregon
(5) Texas over (13) Ole Miss
(3)Washington via (11) Alabama
(2) Michigan over (10) Ohio State

Semifinals

In one semi-final we will experience the actual duel for the national title in 2023… and in the other we will cause the surprise.

(5) Texas about (1) Georgia
(2) Michigan about (3) Washington

National Championship

(2) Michigan via (5) Texas

In the end, the Wolverines still have the trophy in their hands, with a longer but not entirely unfamiliar postseason road to get there, facing three teams they defeated en route to the actual title in 2023.

(Photo: Maddie Meyer / Getty Images)