Mike DiNovo-US PRESSWIRE
What if college football had a relegation and promotion system, à la world soccer? If we'd installed our system before the 2012 season began, here's how things would've shaped up based on real-world standings. Your team's going to the Pioneer League! I'm sorry!
Back in May, we got so bored of the offseason and so jacked up about some soccer thing that we decided to make over all of college football and install a national relegation system. We had nothing better to do than to try and outnerd each other for a week. May, man.
Catch up with us by reading Kevin McCauley on what relegation is and how it works, Spencer Hall's case for making college football even more awesome, a seven-tier relegation plan stretching essentially from the BCS to NAIA, and Bill Connelly's seven-year simulation of such a system in action. Appalachian State hangs in the SEC for like the whole thing!
We want to touch back on this again when the May doldrums take hold, but it's time to take a look at how the upper few tiers would've played out this year under the simplest relegation plan we have at the moment: five geographical columns (one for each BCS conference minus the Big East), seven tiers in each column spanning BCS to NAIA, the worst team from each conference goes down, and the champion from each conference goes up. Bolt a 16-team playoff on top of this while we're at it, if you like, since we're in charge here now.
Let's start with the simplest one. (Though we're only doing the top four tiers here, for sake of brevity.) Each conference also includes average Sagarin ratings, both before and after relegation. Sagarin, since it's the best system that grades FBS and FCS teams alongside each other.
In our full system, we start putting multiple conferences into each column's tier (made-up jargon!) around the Tier 4 mark, but the Pac-12 column doesn't really have that going on, since west coast teams and conferences are more spread out.
Though Washington State finished with a better record than Colorado and was quite clearly the better team by the end of the year, the Buffaloes still beat Wazzu, and according to the Pac-12's tiebreakers, Mike Leach's Cougars get kicked down a level. Lucky for Colorado, which would've struggled in the Tier 3 WAC, let alone the Tier 2 Mountain West. Crashing the Pac-12 party is MWC champion Boise State -- as in, they're not going way out to the Big East next year. See how this makes so much more sense than realignment already?
Utah State earns its way into the MWC (which it's joining anyway in real life), while Hawaii earns its way back into the WAC (which it just left in real life). Also, our plan preserves the existence of WAC football. Another neat thing we've got going.
Dropping to Tier 5 here: 1-10 Idaho State. Rising is Colorado State-Pueblo, which went 12-0 before getting knocked out of the Division II quarterfinals.
Oh, right. We put Notre Dame and BYU in the Big 12 back before the season began, since the Big 12 was the only top-level league without 12 or more teams and independence is forbidden in the new world. I think it worked out just fine, and considering how badly the Irish trashed Oklahoma, let's give them the Big 12 crown this year. Our Big 12 might also be the best and deepest conference ... ever?
Tulsa ends up swapping with Kansas, making a ridiculous conference even tougher (and possibly giving the Big 12 100 percent bowl participation, if that trade had happened before the season), while Central Arkansas' purple field moves one step closer to hosting Notre Dame. Sam Houston State, a FCS finalist, is another who could soon make C-USA much tougher. We've also saved C-USA from shipping all its teams to the Big East, by the way.
Also, by the numbers, Tulane would've been a threat to lose the Tier 3 Southland. In real life, they're going to play in a BCS league next year. We really should be in charge of this sport.
At the Tier 4 level, we have two conferences packed in. To determine who moves up and down from these, let's have promotion and relegation games during conference championship weekend, yes? I have Arkansas-Pine Bluff beating Butler, while Grambling State vs. Campbell is almost too grisly to pick.
Relegation in 2011 would've been very kind to Southern Miss, which would've played in the 2012 Big 12 thanks to their C-USA title -- and would've had a great excuse for going 0-12. You're now imagining Southern Miss' offense against Notre Dame's defense.
The Big Ten finally establishes a football presence in Illinois, with IRL Orange-bound NIU replacing the Illini.
The numbers get pretty amusing here, with Tier 3 North Dakota State (another FCS finalist) showing up as middle-of-the-Big Ten quality. Their defense has been even more dominant at the FCS level than Alabama's has at the FBS, so there's little doubt here they'd hang tough, but still. I'd bet they could beat Illinois, though.
The MAC gives up its first-ever BCS bowl participant and takes on one of the worst Illinois teams ever, but barely budges in overall quality. That's how good NDSU is and how bad Akron is. The Zips might've struggled in Tier 4's Ohio Valley, let alone Tier 3.
According to Sagarin (and the naked eye), the worst top-tier conference trades Boston College for Louisville, which is actually a pretty regular request on ACC Twitter. Maryland's stuck here, since we'd decided to lock in realignment back in May. There's nothing you can do about it.
The Big East tumbles from a BCS league to a Tier 2 conference, but it does manage to be the best at its level. Typical Big East luck strikes again, however, with the USF-for-Old Dominion trade actually making the conference worse. It's not easy to lose both coming and going, but the Big East does it.
Also, Division II runner-up Winston-Salem State is in the Ivy League now. They could've gone in the Patriot League instead, but then I wouldn't get to say, "Winston-Salem State is in the Ivy League now."
So close to Arkansas State flipping with Auburn, which would've meant Gus Malzahn ditching a SEC job for a Sun Belt job.
Georgia Southern arrives as an immediate Sun Belt contender, according to Sagarin, while South Alabama heads back down after a lone year at its current level.
Also, New York's Stony Brook is now in the Southern Conference, with a shot at the Sun Belt soon. The Seawolves are headed to the much more geographically appropriate CAA in real life, and we might ought to let that one happen. NAHHHHHH.
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