I'd be thinking along similar lines to Lone Shark on this one. If there is a drive amongst the players and county boards to go into tiers, similar to the hurling, then fair enough, go for it. I don't think those hurling tiers have been treated at all fairly, but it's still probably an improvement on their lot before they came in. At least most counties field teams now, and play competitions.
Of course in football, all counties (bar Kilkenny) already play and field teams at Senior level, and while they all have varying levels of competitiveness, the players and counties seem content to be part of the race for Sam and their provinces, however unlikely their prospects for ultimate success.
I believe, strongly, that if the teams and counties want to compete at a single level, then we should allow them to do so. Cinderella stories are rare, but they do exist, and I'd hate Tipperary, Offaly, Sligo, Westmeath, Louth etc to have missed out on great days at provincial/national level relatively recently, simply because someone thinks they shouldn't be allowed mix with the big boys.
That said, I would be open to considering a system which places more emphasis on the league, and eliminates things like the qualifiers. Or perhaps places more emphasis on the Provincial championships, but only allows Provincial finalists move on to an All Ireland series.
Two that I could see possibly working are
1) Seedings in provincial competitions being determined via league standings, with the high seeds only entering the provincials at a later stage. This would be similar to what already happens in Munster for example, but the seedings would be based on league position, rather than previous year championship results. Provincial is knockout, and there is no qualifier.
2) Provincial tournaments drawn as is, but only the finalists (8 teams) are allowed enter the final race for Sam. This could then be done as per the proposal for the round robin today. For the remainder the Province is straight knockout, and once you are gone, you are gone.
I just know that if we come along and say right lads, these 8 teams are in the Sam Maguire, these 12 are in the Cormac McAnallen Cup and these 12 are in the Enda Colleran Cup, you will almost immediately see the value of the games in the lower tiers dissipate, and I'm convinced you'd see a further fall off in numbers of lads willing to commit for a summer of games in front of pitiful attendances, ignored by media and fans alike.
I'd be fairly sure that Tipperary's recent, and modest, achievements (no senior adult cups yet!) would not have even occured if they were consigned to a tier 3 competition.