Across the pond they're calling it the Super League. If/when it comes to be — and Tuesday made it sound far less likely to occur than Monday as the reality of the damage it could do to professional soccer in general began to sink in — it will presumably separate the most powerful and wealthy European teams from everyone else, causing widespread financial panic for smaller leagues and teams.
But it also caused ESPN to ponder if such a super league could happen here with American college football. And, if so, who would be included — other than Alabama, Ohio State, Clemson and Notre Dame, of course — and who would be left out.
Let's be blunt here: The rest of college football, even all of college athletics, needs its top 25 or so programs more than they need them. Merely consider this scenario going forward: You move 24 elite programs to a league of their own. You divide them up into two 12-team divisions. You play eight games within your division, two from the opposite division, one team from what's left of the Power Five schools and one team from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga's Football Championship Subdivision level as both an unofficial bye week and as a way to throw a few financial breadcrumbs their way.
You then stage an eight-team playoff with six schools from the Super League and two schools from everybody else, higher seeds playing at home.
(Side note: Despite its long run of mediocrity bordering on irrelevance, Tennessee would likely be included in such a super conference based on 102,455-seat Neyland Stadium and a fan base that routinely ranks among the top 10 merchandizing schools in college athletics. After all, this would be all about money.)
One college administrator told me Tuesday that it will never happen because of the NCAA Tournament, that to form such a league would destroy March Madness, which relies on Cinderella stories in the opening weekend to drive TV ratings, but also needs the big boys to anchor the thing.
But what if these 24 schools said they wanted to keep basketball as is, though, if forced, they'd withdraw in all sports? What then? The NCAA has to have those 24 schools. No ifs, ands, or buts. If those schools decide to throw their clout and power around at the expense of their 330 or so Division I brothers, who could stop them?
"It would create another slice of separation in college athletics," said UTC athletic director Mark Wharton. "The gap is already getting wider and wider between the Power Five conference schools and everybody else. And with all the negative attention the NCAA's getting these days, you could see it happening. It would be devastating for a lot of schools if it did."
Still, at its heart and soul, sports has always been at least as much about the fans' emotions and passion as the money. The soccer owners — and the top 24 football schools — clearly have enough money to somewhat do what they want. But that's only as long as the the fans accept their greedy ways. They need the fans to care enough to buy tickets and elevate television ratings through both viewing and buying from the companies pouring their advertising dollars into sports.
Without that, it can all fall apart, and relatively quickly.
Or as CBS Late Show host James Corden — a huge European soccer fan — noted in an impassioned rant against the Super League on Monday night: "It's hard to express how much these communities rely on football (soccer), not just financially, which is considerable, but football is like a focal point of a town's hopes and dreams ... They (the owners) took something so pure and so beautiful and they beat the love and the joy out of it and they did it for money. And it's disgusting."
It is disgusting. And the Super League certainly seems as if it has almost instantly disgusted enough people that it could fall apart before it begins.
But that doesn't mean a super college football league couldn't replace the current Power Five conference model, pushing aside the also-rans in favor of elite, must-see TV match-ups most every week.
"I'm heartbroken by it, genuinely heartbroken by it," said Corden of the soccer situation. "I'm heartbroken because the owners of these teams have displayed the worst kind of greed I've ever seen in sport."
We've seen greed before in college athletics. We've seen the Power Five conferences wield their power in cost-of-attendance legislation and the current name-image-and likeness battle. Never mind if anyone else can afford it. We're big and bad and selfish. Get used to it.
And maybe, as we're hopefully seeing in Europe, a sense of decency and fair play will prevail. At least for the time being.
For as Corden also noted: "Football is a working class game where anyone can beat anyone on their day, and it's that that makes it incredible."
Unfortunately, the fact that only five different schools — Bama, Clemson, LSU, Georgia and Ohio State — have played in the last five College Football Playoff championship games shouts, every school can no longer realistically dream of winning it all, or even competing for it all.
Still, something else Corden said about the potential power of the Super League — if it comes to pass — should scare college football fans everywhere should such an idea take hold in their sport.
"If this happens," he said. "I do think it's the end of the sport that we love."
At least for fans of every team not thrown into a super league with Alabama, Clemson, Ohio State and Notre Dame, etc.
Contact Mark Wiedmer at firstname.lastname@example.org.