Sunday, January 5, 2014

College Football Promotion and Relegation

Disclaimer: I have never watched a single college football game in my life. The following work isn't me on a soapbox or me pushing for an overhaul of the current college football format: it's just me dorking around. That's all.

For shits and giggles, I wanted to implement a promotion and relegation system to American college football. There are so many teams that it lends itself quite nicely to a pro/rel system. Since the season lasts about 14 weeks, I decided I wanted to create leagues of eight teams - playing each opponent in your league home and away would give you 14 games. Because there are so many teams, I decided to split divisions regionally immediately after the top flight. My league structure looks like this:

1) Every league has eight teams
2) Each division has twice as many leagues as its preceding division (i.e. Div I has one league, Div II has two leagues, Div III has four leagues, etc.)
3) Every league promotes one team at the end of the season
4) Every league relegates two teams at the end of the season
5) Teams are moved in a way that attempts to maintain divisional regions

To rank the teams against one another (since teams will rarely if ever actually be playing their league opponents in real life), I'll be using Jeff Sagarin's college football ratings. I like the work he does with Major League Soccer ratings, and unlike the BCS ratings or AP ratings, he rates ALL the Div I-A and Div I-AA teams, not just the top 25. Debate amongst yourselves how good or bad these ratings are; I have to use some kind of rating system, these are some of the best I've seen, and they are very easy to obtain.

The initial league set-up will look like this:

Division I: Teams ranked 1-8, one league
Division II: Teams ranked 9-24, two leagues split regionally
Division III: Teams ranked 25-56, four leagues split regionally
Division IV: Teams ranked 57-120, eight leagues split regionally

Using Sagarin's rankings as of December 14, 2013.

This year, all I'm doing is setting the leagues up. Next year, I'll promote and relegate teams based on Saragin's end-of-season rankings. Since I'm stopping at four divisions (simply due to the amount of time it takes), I'll replace all the relegated Division IV teams with the highest-ranked teams that I didn't draw into these leagues. Essentially what this does is creates a "pool" of all the teams that didn't make the top 120 this year, and the top 16 of the sub-120s will be promoted and sorted by region. This is structurally different than what would happen if I were to continue on with a Div V, VI, etc, but I have to sleep sometime. Hypothetically, I could continue creating divisions to incorporate NCAA Div II and Div III as well.

Parsing the teams by rank and region gives me the following division/league structures:

Division I:

Division II:

Division III:

Division IV:

Now I wait a year to figure out what happens.