Should Notre Dame, Independents be forced to join a conference?


After several coaches across the country spoke about Notre Dame having to join a conference to make the Playoff, do they have a point or is this whining?

Missouri Head Coach Gary Pinkel sounded off just over a week ago, and stated that Independents like Notre Dame, BYU and Army should be forced to join a conference to be eligible to make the College Football Playoff, but was he whining or does he have a valid point? 

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Coach Pinkel wants it to be a swift change too, giving Notre Dame just a year. He also added that every conference needs a Championship Game.

Coach Frank Beamer of Virginia Tech said no team should be treated differently, and a host of other ACC coaches backed up his case, stating that it should be mandatory to be in a conference to be eligible to play in the College Football Playoff.

But Bill Hancock, Executive Director of the College Football Playoff, supported the Independents, stating that no conference requirements would be made for Independents. He added that Independents in College Football are happy just the way they are.

I completely agree with Hancock. College football is losing its tradition and charm in many ways, such as rivalries like Texas-Texas A&M and Nebraska and Oklahoma ending due to conference realignment.

Independents make college football unique. Instead of making only a 20-40 percent change to a team’s schedule, they can mix it up how they want year after year. Notre Dame has a group of consistent opponents on their schedule, but BYU in 2015 only has three opponents from last year (Boise State, UConn, Utah State).

They may not be playing in a conference championship game, but they often play some pretty good schedules. For instance, Notre Dame plays the 29th toughest schedule, according to ESPN’s Football Power Index, which is above Kentucky (32) from the SEC and Oregon (33) from the Pac-12.

Much like Notre Dame, Army has decades of experience as an Independent, but their schedule is 126th, where it fits their needs (they went 4-8 last year and are not in contention for a Playoff spot). BYU has been Independent since 2011 and is working toward tougher schedules (currently 60th), but future years could see a dramatically tougher road.

Colleges should be allowed to make decisions that work for themselves and they should not be forced to give up that freedom just because some coaches from the SEC, ACC, Big Ten or Pac-12 aren’t happy.

BYU had much more leeway when it left the Mountain West, when the university could finally broadcast games on its own station, BYUTV. While rumors persist about potentially joining the Big 12, the move should only occur under conditions that satisfy both BYU and the Big 12, not because Gary Pinkel or Dabo Swinney are complaining.

Different challenges are associated with being Independent, but a select few do have the opportunity to be Independent if they felt like it would give them an advantage. I don’t think these coaches have much to complain about, as they are in Power 5 conferences. Unless a school wants to make a change, there’s no need to take away the perks that a university enjoys, wherever it may be.

Next: 10 Teams Who Need To Join A New Conference

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