Chimpo's Question of the Week has sparked a discussion on the implementation of a 2nd College Nationals. Where does the line get drawn? Are teams in a second division in that division there the whole year or is it only determined after sectionals/regionals? Are teams allowed to move up or down at will? Will a 2nd Nationals even work? The previous thread is about whether divisions are necessary due to the expansion of the college division, so rather than redirect the conversation of that thread, we can use this thread to discuss how a 2nd Nationals would have to work.
Recent comments by Dusty, Heacox, and Jim Palmer have talked about making a 2nd (Div II) Nationals and having the splot occur at that point rather than at the beginning of the season. Palmer and Dusty have made good points about how the split could occur right after regionals to allow teams that didn't make nationals to still get good competition and continue their season. Heacox pointed out that tournaments like that have existed in the past and have failed because of a lack of attendance.
It seems to me like what has been put forth is kind of like an NIT tournament, where a good finishing at regionals but failure to make nationals gets you an invitation. Extra invitations can be extended as needed to get a full field of teams. The difficulty of that system is travel and interest. UPA College Nationals happens too late in the year, and a 2nd "less important" Div II tournament would certainly be less likely to get teams if it were that late. College Nationals is 3 weeks after the last regionals, maybe if it was two weeks instead it would be easier to get interest because we would be past the last days of school (Dusty, care to comment on the timing of Nationals and the end of school dates, it has been a while since some of us have been in college?).
Another issue is travel. It is a lot to ask the loser of a nasty 2/3 game in New England to hop a plane to California to play in another tournament. While this will probably lead to them declining the bid (which opens a bid up for another team), wouldn't they be more likely to go if the tournament was closer to home, say in Maryland or Virginia? But then what about the teams from the west coast? A 2nd Invitation-only nationals will (like Heacox said) have poor nationwide attendance because of the burden on distant teams (like HS Nationals was for a while, or maybe still is).
Perhaps an alternate solution is to have multiple tournaments. 4 lets say. Each tournament caters to two regions, taking the next 12-16 teams from the regionals of those two regions. This allows for more cross-regional play against good, but apparently not the best of teams. In order to prevent over-repeating matchups you could even switch the pairings of the regionals yearly in order to expose more teams to each other. Although this isn't really another nationals (more like a super-regional), hopefully having it quickly after regionals, and always somewhat closer to the participating schools would increase attendance.
I'm sure there are lots of problems with this idea, and probably lots of better ideas so have at it people.