As we enter Year Three of the relegation experience, we see membership of certain conferences blurring together (ACC-Big East, MAC-Missouri Valley, P10-Mountain West-WAC, Sun Belt-Southern) and certain teams treated as sacrificial lambs (the Tier 1 stays of both Akron and Arkansas State were as brief as possible). What happens next?
Teams in green font below are no longer in their original conference.
- Membership: Boston College, Clemson, Florida State, Georgia Tech, Louisville, Maryland, Miami, North Carolina, Virginia, Virginia Tech, Wake Forest, West Virginia
- Champion: West Virginia
- Demoted to Big East: Miami
In its second season in Tier 1, West Virginia wins its second conference title. But the more jarring development is the demotion of The U. Miami went 5-7 in real 2007, and without Duke and N.C. State, this conference really has no bottom tier in 2007. This is a good example of the way relegation skims fat. Occasionally a 2006 Akron makes it to Tier 1, but for the most part the teams added to a tier are as good or better than the teams that were just relegated.
- Membership: Baylor, Colorado, Kansas, Kansas State, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, Tulsa
- Champion: Oklahoma
- Demoted to Conference USA: Baylor
It finally happens: Baylor is demoted. We won't go down this road, but this begs an easy question: does Art Briles leave Houston for new conference mate Baylor? Probably not. So if we are skewing reality even more, then Robert Griffin III is a Houston Cougar. But we'll say he and Briles both still end up in Waco.
- Membership: Central Michigan, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, Northwestern, Notre Dame*, Ohio State, Penn State, Purdue, Wisconsin
- Champion: Ohio State
- Demoted to MAC: Minnesota
With Dan LeFevour, Central Michigan survives a year in the top tier, while a horrendous Minnesota team earns a well-deserved relegation.
- Membership: Arizona, Arizona State, Boise State, California, Oregon, Oregon State, TCU, UCLA, USC, Washington State
- Champion: USC
- Demoted to Mountain West: Washington State
It goes without saying that Boise State and TCU fare perfectly well in a suddenly great Pac-10 conference. Meanwhile, like Baylor and Minnesota, Washington State earns a rather predictable demotion.
- Membership: Alabama, Appalachian State, Arkansas, Auburn, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, LSU, Mississippi State, South Carolina, Tennessee, Vanderbilt
- Champion: LSU
- Demoted to Sun Belt: Vanderbilt
In this scenario, here are Appalachian's conference home opponents in a three-year span:
2005: Georgia Southern, Chattanooga, Western Carolina
2006: Middle Tennessee, Florida International, Florida Atlantic
2007: Florida, Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana State
A slight upgrade.
But the Mountaineers survive! Powered by a win over Vanderbilt, ASU remains hot, hot, hot and lives to see Tier 1 for another year.
- Membership: Army*, Cincinnati, Connecticut, Massachusetts, N.C. State, Navy*, New Hampshire, Rutgers, South Florida, Syracuse
- Promoted to ACC: Connecticut
- Demoted to Colonial: Syracuse
And Syracuse officially becomes Sheffield Wednesday. Champions 50 years ago, the Orange fall to the third tier under Greg Robinson. Meanwhile, UMass and New Hampshire both fare reasonably well.
- Membership: Central Florida, East Carolina, Houston, Iowa State, Marshall, Memphis, Rice, SMU, Southern Miss, Tulane, UAB, UTEP
- Promoted to Big 12: Central Florida
- Demoted to Southland: SMU
It is easy to forget just how bad SMU was a couple of years ago.
- Membership: Akron, Ball State, Bowling Green, Buffalo, Illinois, Miami (Ohio), Northern Illinois, Northern Iowa, Ohio, Toledo, Western Michigan, Youngstown State
- Promoted to Big Ten: Illinois
- Demoted to Missouri Valley: Northern Illinois
Juice Williams and company lead an Illini surge back to Tier 1. Meanwhile, it is also easy to forget just how bad Northern Illinois was at the end of the Joe Novak era.
- Membership: Air Force, BYU, Hawaii, New Mexico, San Diego State, Stanford, Utah, Washington, Wyoming
- Promoted to Pac-10: BYU
- Demoted to WAC: Wyoming
And the third of what will soon become four predictable promotions takes place in the MWC, with a strong BYU squad making the jump. Utah, you're up next.
- Membership: Arkansas State, Florida Atlantic, Furman, Middle Tennessee, Ole Miss, Troy, UL-Lafayette, UL-Monroe
- Promoted to SEC: Florida Atlantic
- Demoted to Southern: UL-Lafayette
Despite solid recruiting, poor Ed Orgeron cannot overcome Schnellenberger magic. Mustache power drives FAU to Tier 1 while the Rebels gear up for a third year of Tier 2 action.
- Membership: Delaware, Duke, Hofstra, James Madison, Maine, Northeastern, Rhode Island, Richmond, Temple, Towson, Villanova, William & Mary
- Promoted to Big East: Richmond
- Demoted to Patriot: Towson
- Membership: Central Arkansas, McNeese State, Nicholls State, North Dakota State, Northwestern State, Sam Houston State, Texas State, UC Davis
- Promoted to Conference USA: North Dakota State
- Demoted to Pioneer / Great West: Texas State
North Dakota quickly rises to Tier 2. It turns out to be a little too quickly.
- Membership: Eastern Illinois, Eastern Michigan, Illinois State, Kent State, Missouri State, Southern Illinois, Western Illinois, Western Kentucky
- Promoted to MAC: Southern Illinois
- Demoted to Ohio Valley / Northeast: Eastern Illinois
- Membership: Colorado State, Eastern Washington, Fresno State, Idaho, Louisiana Tech, Montana, Nevada, San Jose State, UNLV
- Promoted to Mountain West: Fresno State
- Demoted to Big Sky: Idaho
- Membership: Charleston Southern, Chattanooga, Coastal Carolina, Florida International, Georgia Southern, North Texas, The Citadel, Wofford
- Promoted to Sun Belt: Wofford
- Demoted to Big South: Charleston Southern
- Membership: Bucknell, Colgate, Fordham, Georgetown, Holy Cross, Lafayette, Lehigh
- Promoted to Colonial: Fordham
Pioneer / Great West
- Membership (Pioneer): Austin Peay, Butler, Davidson, Dayton, Drake, Jacksonville, Morehead State, San Diego, Valparaiso
- Membership (Great West): Cal Poly, Northern Colorado, SE Louisiana, South Dakota State, Southern Utah, Stephen F. Austin
- Promoted to Southland: South Dakota State
Ohio Valley / Northeast
- Membership (Ohio Valley): Eastern Kentucky, Indiana State, Jacksonville State, Murray State, Samford, SE Missouri State, Tennessee State, Tennessee Tech, UT-Martin
- Membership (Northeast): Albany, Central Connecticut State, Monmouth, Robert Morris, Sacred Heart, St. Francis (PA), Stony Brook, Wagner
- Promoted to Missouri Valley: Eastern Kentucky
- Membership: Idaho State, Montana State, New Mexico State, Northern Arizona, Portland State, Sacramento State, Utah State, Weber State
- Promoted to WAC: Utah State
- Membership: Elon, Gardner-Webb, Liberty, VMI, Western Carolina
- Promoted to Southern: Elon
Three years in, only two "Original Tier 1" teams have fallen from Tier 1 and regained their status: Oklahoma State and Ole Miss. Meanwhile, only two teams rose to Tier 1 and immediately fell back to Tier 2: Akron and Arkansas State. And again, that is without the recruiting bump that teams would experience in rising from one tier to another.
Your Potential Five-Team Tier 1 Playoff: No. 1 Ohio State vs. No. 7 USC / No. 9 West Virginia, No. 2 LSU vs. No. 4 Oklahoma