An Ideal College Football Structure, Part Two: The New Power 5

In my last article, I introduced a whole new structure for college football’s Football Bowl Subdivision. This structure represents a complete rebuild of what the FBS looks like, on a scale beyond any realignment or rule changes we have seen.

Indeed, it goes beyond anything we are likely to see any time soon, which is why I said that this is more like a gold standard to strive towards than any kind of prediction.

In today’s article, I aim to get into the details of what this new setup would look like. We’re going to take a look at the new Power 5 conferences to see what teams would fill them out, as well as check out the schedules for some of the teams.

Why start with the Power 5, you ask, since this is a Group of 5 website? Mainly because starting from the top just makes more sense. The new G5 will be missing some of its star programs because they will have moved up, and it will include many programs currently residing at the FCS level. Presenting the conferences from the top down avoids confusion about dominant programs that have disappeared.

As a quick reminder, in this rebuild all 10 conferences have 16 teams divided into four 4 team divisions.


The Atlantic Coast Conference

For the ACC, I stuck to the northeast, thinking that teams in the southeast would fit best into the Southeastern Conference (novel idea, huh?). Here’s what the new conference looks like:


As you can see, over half of the teams remain from the current version. The new half was chosen for the following reasons:

  • Army – One of the strongest independents with a rich history and a location in New York.
  • Rutgers – Based in New Jersey, makes way more sense geographically here than in the Big 10.
  • Maryland – See above.
  • Navy – See Army’s explanation but sub in AAC for independent.
  • Temple – Another strong AAC squad in this region.
  • Penn St. – Gets to play with other Pennsylvania schools now.
  • West Virginia – Much better geographic fit than the Big XII, and now they can resume their rivalry with Pitt!

If you look at a map, you can draw nice non-overlapping circles around the areas where these schools play. I’m especially happy with the South (North Carolina) division.


The Midwest Conference

Since I’m realigning al of the teams geographically, I figured this would also be the perfect opportunity to rename the misnomered “Big 10” Conference. Midwest reflects where most of the teams play in a simple and accurate way.


The original 10 from the Big 10 all stay. The add-ons in the east (Penn St., Maryland, and Rutgers) have been moved off to the ACC and replaced with some more geographically appropriate members.

  • Kentucky – I know that UK has been a member of the Southeast Conference since it’s founding in 1932. But it makes too much sense to plug them into a division where they can play their hated rivals, the Louisville Cardinals, on a regular basis, and they won’t both fit in the SEC.
  • Louisville – See above.
  • Cincinatti – One of the strongest and steadiest G5 teams in the country for years.
  • Marshall – Great geographic fit, strong program with strong history.
  • Notre Dame – In this new structure, there is no room for independents. Despite NDU’s current agreement with the ACC, the Midwest is where they truly belong.
  • Iowa State – They fit well in the Big XII in terms of their style, but geographically they belong with the Midwest. Placing them here also finally allows them a full-on rivalry with the Hawkeyes.

These divisions also came out pretty clean, and the interdivision rivalries are awesome. Imagine the TV contract the Midwest conference could draw by putting these games on the tube once or twice per season:

  • Michigan/Michigan St.
  • Kentucky/Louisville
  • Indiana/Purdue
  • Minnesota/Wisconsin
  • Iowa/Iowa St.
  • Ohio St./Notre Dame


The Pacific Coast Conference

Now let’s jump on over to the other side of our great country and check out the new Pac-12. In renaming it, I have eschewed numbers, because that way nothing ever gets confusing when teams move. Also, I like the way the PCC mirrors the ACC.


This conference is the most unchanged from it’s original form. Indeed, all 12 Pac-12 teams remain; all I had to do was find four more to bring us up to 16. For those spots, I elected the following:

  • Air Force – the final service academy retains an equal amount of prestige as the other two by moving into a Power 5 conference, while also reatining its independence by joining a totally different conference.
  • San Diego St. – Perenially one of the strongest and most consistent G5 programs.
  • Boise St. –  With the best record in G5 over the past 30 years and multiple BCS/New Year’s bowl wins, the reasons for promoting them should be obvious.
  • BYU – a longtime staple of any western conference expansion talks, the Cougars bring with them a national fanbase few G5 teams can rival.

For the first time, I was unable to make the divisions totally clear-cut by state. There are too many California schools to fit in one division, so newbie SDSU is the odd-man-out. Colorado also gets split with Air Force in the south and Colorado in the East. Even so, nobody is too far from each other, so these divisions feel good to me.


The Southeastern Conference

No need to change the name here. The members, on the other hand, will recieve a significant shuffle.


As I mentioned earlier, I took the members of the ACC who were located in the southeast and put them into the Southeastern Conference. As such, some of the traditional SEC teams were moved out. What we are left with is a different, but still very strong, conference.

  • Miami – Moving from the ACC to the SEC allows the Hurricanes to stay close to home and play some of the best football schools in the country on a regular basis.
  • Georgia Tech – See above.
  • Florida State – See above.
  • Clemson – See above, plus the Tigers can now play in the same division as their cross-state rivals, the Gamecocks.
  • UCF – The school who has done all there is to do in the G5 over the past two seasons gets their well-deserved shot to play with the big boys.
  • South Florida – A natural rival for UCF, they have also been impressive in the G5 more often than not.
  • Memphis – Perenially a contender in the AAC, they are a natural choice for expansion.

Getting these teams into divisions was tougher than the other conferences. Too many teams in Florida caused me to have to choose an odd-man-out from the big 3 of Florida, FSU, and Miami. That ended up being FSU due to their location in the upper panhandle. I also could not manage to get Georgia and Georgia Tech together, but since they’ve spent years in different conferences, this is still an improvement on reality.  At least we have all the Florida and Georgia schools under one conference roof!

The Southwestern Conference

As with the ACC and PCC, I like the symmetry of the SEC and the SWC. It also serves as a call-back to the days of the old Southwest Conference, which is the last time some of these teams played together.


7 out of 10 of the current Big XII stay, to be joined by all of the former Southwest Conference members except for Rice (who can’t really make a reasonable argument for being a P5 program right now). Missouri and Nebraska also return from their brief exhiles to the SEC and Big 10. Finally, we add some Lousiana flavor with LSU and Tulane, who used to be a member of the SEC waayyyyy back.

One might nickname this the Nostalgia League. A&M is back in the same conference as Texas (though not the same division, which feels like an appropriate distance for their relationship). SMU is back in the same division as TCU. The whole band is back together, like some football version of Newsboys United. As a football lover from the great state of Texas, this division is absolutely my favorite.


So what would a season under these new rules look like? Lets briefly review the new scheduling rules:

  • The first 3 games, free scheduling as always.
  • The next 7 games, conference play. Each team will play the other three teams in their division every season. They will rotate between the other divisions in their conference each year for the other four games.
  • The final 2 games are conference semifinals. Only the 4 division champions will compete in these games, which will be played against each other to decide the conference champ.
  • At the end of the year, eight teams are chosen for the National Championship Playoffs: The five Power 5 conference champs, a Group of 5 representative and the next two highest ranked at-large teams.
  • Everyone else can go to bowl games, if they have a 7-5 record or better.

Now let’s look at what that might look like across a 3-year schedule for a team. To start off, I’ll use Boise State as an example:

Year One

The first three games are typically open schedule. However, in this case, I have made the first two games and the last game open schedule. This is because I would like to retain the final week of the regular season as rivalry week, and Boise does not have an obvious in-state or traditional rival in the PCC.

1 vs. Western Michigan

2 @ Auburn

Conference play begins here, with Boise playing their divisional rivals (Colorado, Utah, and BYU) plus all the teams from another division. This year it is the West Division.

3 vs. California

4 vs. Southern California

5 @ California-Los Angeles

6 @ Colorado

7 @ Brigham Young

8 vs. Stanford

9 vs. Utah

Here’s Boise’s rivalry game that I mentioned above.

10 @ Idaho

Finally, if and only if Boise wins their division, they advance to the four-team conference tournament. The winner automatically reaches the College Football Playoff.

11 Semi-final (*if necessary)

12 Conference Final (*if necessary)

Here’s a look at the next two years. Boise plays the South Division in year 2 and the North Division in year 3.

Year Two

1 vs. Grambling State

2 @ Arkansas

3 vs. Colorado

4 @ San Diego State

5 @ Air Force

6 vs. Arizona

7 vs. Brigham Young

8 @ Utah

9 @ Arizona State

10 vs. Idaho

11 Semi-final (*if necessary)

12 Conference Final (*if necessary)


Year Three

1 vs. Georgia Southern

2 @ Vanderbilt

3 @ Oregon State

4 @ Brigham Young

5 vs. Utah

6 vs. Washington

7 @ Colorado

8 vs. Washington State

9 vs. Oregon

10 @ Idaho

11 Semi-final (*if necessary)

12 Conference Final (*if necessary)


That’s about it for today! Come back tomorrow for Part 3, in which we will see how the new G5 conferences look! If you want to see more sample schedules, click the “read more” button one last time to see schedues for Western Kentucky, Ohio State, Alabama, and Virginia Tech.

Texas Longhorns



Year One

1 vs. Utah State

2 @ Georgia

3 @ Louisiana State

4 @ Arkansas

5 @ Oklahoma

6 vs. Oklahoma State

7 vs. Texas Tech

8 vs. Tulane

9 @ Houston

10 vs. Texas A&M

11 Semi-final (IN)

12 Conference Final (IN)

Year Two

1 vs. Old Dominion

2 @ Louisiana Tech

3 @ Oklahoma State

4 @ Nebraska

5 vs. Missouri

6 vs. Oklahoma

7 @ Texas Tech

8 vs. Kansas State

9 vs. Kansas

10 @ Texas A&M

11 Semi-finals (IN)

12 Conference Final (IN)

Year Three

1 vs. Princeton

2 @ South Florida

3 @ Oklahoma

4 vs. Texas Tech

5 @ Southern Methodist

6 @ Baylor

7 vs. Oklahoma State

8 vs. Texas Christian

9 @ Cincinnati

10 vs. Texas A&M

11 Semi-final (IN)

12 Conference Final (IN)



Ohio State Buckeyes



Year One

1 vs. East Carolina

2 @ Washington

3 @ Cincinnati

4 vs. Iowa State

5 vs. Illinois

6 vs. Iowa

7 vs. West Virginia

8 @ Notre Dame

9 @Northwestern

10 @ Michigan

11 Semi-final (IN)

12 Conference Final (IN)

Year Two

1 @ Western Kentucky

2 vs. Texas-San Antonio

3 @ Kentucky

4 vs. Notre Dame

5 vs. Cincinnati

6 @ Indiana

7 @ West Virginia

8 vs. Purdue

9 @ Louisville

10 vs. Michigan

11 Semi-final (IN)

12 Conference Final (IN)

Year Three

1 vs. Liberty

2 vs. Central Florida

3 @ South Carolina

4 @ Cincinnati

5 vs. West Virginia

6 @ Wisconsin

7 vs. Minnesota

8 vs. Michigan State

9 @ Notre Dame

10 @ Michigan

11 Semi-final (IN)

12 Conference Final (IN)



Alabama Crimson Tide



Year One

1 vs. California State-Fresno

2 @ San Diego State

3 vs. Florida State

4 vs. Clemson

5 @ Georgia Tech

6 @ Louisiana State

7 @ Mississippi

8 vs. South Carolina

9 vs. Mississippi State

10 @ Auburn

11 Semi-final (IN)

12 Conference Final (IN)

Year Two

1 vs. Texas-El Paso

2 @ Central Michigan

3 vs. Louisiana State

4 @ South Florida

5 @ Florida

6 vs. Miami

7 vs. Mississippi

8 @ Mississippi State

9 @ Central Florida

10 vs. Auburn

11 Semi-final (IN)

12 Conference Final (IN)

Year Three

1 vs. Central Michigan

2 @ Kansas State

3 @ Tennessee

4 @ Mississippi

5 vs. Mississippi State

6 vs. Georgia

7 @ Louisiana State

8 vs. Vanderbilt

9 vs. Memphis

10 @ Auburn

11 Semi-final (IN)

12 Conference Final (IN)



Virginia Tech Hokies

Atlantic Coast


Year One

1 vs. Dartmouth

2 @ West Virginia

3 @ Colorado

4 vs. Temple

5 @ Pittsburgh

6 vs. Navy

7 @ Pennsylvania State

8 vs. Rutgers

9 vs. Maryland

10 @ Virginia

11 Semi-final (IN)

12 Conference Final (IN)

Year Two

1 vs. California State-Fresno

2 @ Kentucky

3 vs. Alaska

4 vs. Duke

5 @ Wake Forest

6 @ Navy

7 @ North Carolina State

8 @ Maryland

9 vs. North Carolina

10 vs. Virginia

11 Semi-final (IN)

12 Conference Final (IN)

Year Three

1 vs. North Dakota State

2 @ Tennessee

3 @ Oregon

4 vs. Navy

5 vs. Connecticut

6 vs. Maryland

7 @ Boston College

8 @ Army

9 vs. Syracuse

10 @ Virginia

11 Semi-final (IN)

12 Conference Final (IN)

One thought on “An Ideal College Football Structure, Part Two: The New Power 5

  1. So…this is going to sound ‘homer-esque’, and I admit it plainly. I am also well aware that life is “unfair” — so, no need to unpack that, because I can hear the responses now; “Well, life is unfair sometimes, dude!”. But bear with me…

    Up until the recent power surge by NDSU in the 1-AA ranks, Georgia Southern was king of the hill in FCS college football. Having won 6 1-AA titles over the 30 years of sanctioned NCAA football that they played at that level — which began (officially) in 1984. I know that Savannah and the ‘Coastal Empire’ is no booming metropolis, but it’s also not a ghost town of population numbers like North Dakota State. [I’m going somewhere with this…]

    IMO, you should ‘ship’ USF back down to the AAC, and bring Georgia Southern up. ‘Not fair’ if you include them only because Tampa is a very large market and the University has upwards of 40K or so students. Georgia Southern has 6 national titles to their name. South Florida has “0”. [Obviously NDSU is not a ‘fit’ at all for the SEC, but IMO they are dramatically hurt by a state that is so sparse with people, that they likely would never be a draw for a P5 school.]

    While App. State has only won half (3) the titles that the Eagles of Georgia Southern has won… heck, bring them along for the ride too. That’s only fair, as App. has generally had a more consistent team and put more fear into the average P5 team over the past 5-7 years than GS has. In which case you would have to ship Georgia TECH back to the ACC, and move TEMPLE back to P5 status.

    Again, this is opinion and ‘pleasant fantasy’ talking, but THAT would make for a spicy SEC! Plus you’ve got two tradition-rich programs coming in that have actually WON national titles. And not “DII” titles, as people seem to get DII and D1 (AA) confused.
    [Yes, I am aware that Georgia Tech had glory days of long ago… and that they shared a N.T. with Colorado in 1990… but they are ALREADY in a P5 conference, one that still fits (ACC) geographically, as the Peach State is indeed a coastal state on the eastern seaboard.] South Florida has done nothing in the way of ever winning a national title in college football. At least UCF has been in the discussion lately…

    On TOP of this, having FIVE TEAMS from Florida (which is nearly a 3rd of the conference) is a bit ludicrous to me.

    Yes, this is a pipe-dream… but it is in keeping with the vein of your piece here; a pipe-dream. Thanks for hearing me out. GATA! And HAIL SOUTHERN! ** {The biggest drawback in the entire scenario that I just painted — the Eagles having to play the Gamecocks. Ugh. I can’t watch…} :/ :/

    OR… make this even simpler, and just ship TEMPLE back to the American Athletic, and replace THEM with Georgia Southern. I’d take that too!

    But the Eagles of Statesboro, GA need to be included in your P5 fantasy conferences somewhere in the southeast. In my humble, but accurate opinion.


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