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Conference Realignment Auction: Introducing the Gladiators Conference

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You want a new twist on college sports? The Gladiators Conference introduces to you European-style relegation!

Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Quick Facts:

Conference name: Gladiators Conference

Northernmost school: University of Oregon (Eugene, OR)

Southernmost school: University of Miami (Coral Gables, FL)

Easternmost school: Syracuse University (Syracuse, NY)

Westernmost school: University of Oregon (Eugene, OR)

Longest driving commute: Eugene, OR to Coral Gables, FL (3,279 miles)

Football championship venue: AT&T Stadium, Dallas, Texas

Basketball championship venue: Scottrade Center, St. Louis, Missouri

Baseball championship venue: Kauffman Stadium, Kansas City, Missouri

The Gladiators Conference

Matt's Conference Map Alex Alvarado

PREMIER DIVISION RELEGATED DIVISION
Alabama Cal State-Fullerton
Florida State Denver
Iowa Louisiana-Lafayette
Miami (Florida) Mount Union
North Carolina Saint Mary's
Oregon Wright State
Syracuse
Texas Tech
Wisconsin

It's always good to start at the beginning, so we'll do that. As with everyone else in this mad experiment, I was required to draft a MAC team. The randomized draft order matched the luck I often have in fantasy baseball and football drafts, so I ended up picking ninth out of ten players. As a result, I watched as the Bowling Green Falcons were unceremoniously scooped up before my turn, and I wasn't exactly thrilled with the leftover pittance.

I picked the Central Michigan Chippewas, which isn't a terrible selection on the surface. CMU is pretty decent at everything, so they wouldn't get buried in any of the major sports. Unfortunately, they're not great at anything, either. Ultimately, instead of calling "Fire Up Chips!", I just decided to fire the Chips by trading them away for the Texas Tech Red Raiders. This feels like a win for me, as Tech is often very good in football and is a College World Series team in baseball.

My initial strategy was two-fold. First, I wanted to create an eight to ten team league of power teams focused almost entirely on football. This freed me to allot more money for each school. Second, I wanted to use my conference plan to help drive up prices, which would (possibly) upset the plans of some of the other members.

This plan appeared to be working well enough at the beginning, but ultimately, I decided that it was not going in the exact direction I desired, so the plan was blown up for an even better strategy -- a conference made up of both power conference and mid-major powers with strength in all major college sports. These combined elements would allow me to create two distinct entities where teams could be relegated as needed.

Is Syracuse terrible at baseball? Flip them with Wright State. Do we need extra hockey oomph in the Premier Division? Put Denver in that group.

Essentially, two separate leagues have been created here for all sports. In football, there will be no "cross-over" games between the two divisions. The Premier Division would play an eight-game round-robin schedule with the top two teams meeting in the championship game, while the Relegated Division would also play an eight-game schedule in which teams would have home-and-home series against three teams yearly on a rotating basis. That division would have no championship game.

For basketball, baseball and hockey, there would be limited cross-over play due to the number of conference games needed to fill schedules. Post-season conference tournaments in those sports would feature all teams from both conferences, with seeding priority going to the Premier Division teams.

Promotion and relegation between the two divisions would be considered annually but not necessarily performed on a yearly basis. Such decisions would be made by a nine-person panel voted on by all conference members and would be based on conference need in the individual sports.

While the Gladiators Conference does have a couple natural rivalries (Wisconsin-Iowa, FSU-Miami), the league in general was built without that trait in mind. The idea in the ultimate creation of the conference was to build a group of teams with power and balance that would compete on a championship level across all sports. As commissioner, I believe that I have achieved that goal.

There is no doubt that the results of this auction have made me happy, and I believe that my conference has the ability to knock the proverbial socks off any of my competitors. Of course, I'm just one guy. What say you? Did I make the right choices here, or is my European-style relegation system just not American enough? You make the call.