College Football Relegation In Action: 2009

TEMPE AZ - NOVEMBER 13: Head coach Jim Harbaugh of the Stanford Cardinal huddles with his team on as they warm up for the game with the Arizona State Sun Devils at Sun Devil Stadium on November 13 2010 in Tempe Arizona. (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

Let's take a look at how relegation would actually work in college football, with years of simulations ready to go. Monday: Why CFB needs relegation. Tuesday: How does relegation work? Wednesday: The CFB relegation system. Thursday: CFB after seven years of relegation.

After four years of promotion and relegation, 13 BCS conference programs (Baylor, Duke, Indiana, Iowa State, Miami, Minnesota, N.C. State, Stanford, Syracuse, UCLA, Vanderbilt, Washington, Washington State) find themselves relegated to a lesser conference. Aside from perhaps Miami, most of these were rather predictable, as were some of the nine non-BCS teams that now find themselves in Tier 1 (Appalachian State, Boise State, Buffalo, BYU, Central Michigan, Rice, TCU, Tulsa, Utah). While a few of these programs will quickly find themselves demoted, others obviously will not.

Intro | 2005 | 2006 | 2007 | 2008 | 2009 | 2010 | 2011 | 2012

Teams in green font below are no longer in their original conference.

Tier I


  • Membership: Boston College, Cincinnati, Clemson, Connecticut, Florida State, Georgia Tech, Maryland, North Carolina, Virginia, Virginia Tech, Wake Forest, West Virginia
  • Champion: Cincinnati
  • Demoted to Big East: Maryland

Tony Pike and the Cincinnati Bearcats follow West Virginia's lead and win the ACC in their first year post-promotion. Meanwhile, Ralph Friedgen's Terrapins get demoted, and his tenure in College Park probably ends a year earlier than it did in real life.

Big 12

  • Membership: Colorado, Kansas, Kansas State, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Rice, Texas, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, Tulsa
  • Champion: Texas
  • Demoted to Conference USA: Rice

Rice fell from 10-3 to 2-10 in real 2009; they quite possibly go 0-12 with a Big 12 schedule.

Big Ten

  • Membership: Buffalo, Central Michigan, Illinois, Iowa, Michigan, Michigan State, Northwestern, Notre Dame*, Ohio State, Penn State, Purdue, Wisconsin
  • Champion: Ohio State
  • Demoted to MAC: Buffalo

Like Rice, Buffalo took a step backwards in 2009. And since they were, like 2005 Akron, surprise MAC winners, they probably knew in advance that their Tier 1 stay was not going to last very long. Take the money and run!


  • Membership: Arizona, Arizona State, Boise State, BYU, California, Oregon, Oregon State, TCU, USC, Utah
  • Champion: Boise State
  • Demoted to Mountain West: Arizona State

Once again, a reasonably decent team is demoted from a loaded Pac-10.


  • Membership: Alabama, Appalachian State, Arkansas, Auburn, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, LSU, Mississippi State, Ole Miss, South Carolina, Tennessee
  • Champion: Alabama
  • Demoted to Sun Belt: Appalachian State

Alas, it finally happens. Appalachian State lasted three seasons in Tier 1, but without Vanderbilt around, Armanti Edwards and the Mountaineers can no longer avoid falling to 12th place.

Tier II

Big East

  • Membership: James Madison, Louisville, Massachusetts, Miami, N.C. State, Navy*, New Hampshire, Pittsburgh, Richmond, Rutgers, South Florida
  • Promoted to ACC: Pittsburgh
  • Demoted to Colonial: Massachusetts

Over half of the Big East's original roster is either in the ACC or Colonial at this point; that percentage will grow as the conference trades Pittsburgh for Maryland.

Conference USA

  • Membership: Baylor, Central Arkansas, Central Florida, East Carolina, Houston, Iowa State, Marshall, Memphis, Southern Miss, Tulane, UAB, UTEP
  • Promoted to Big 12: East Carolina
  • Demoted to Southland: Central Arkansas

As with North Dakota State earlier, Central Arkansas' rise to Tier 2 is a little too much, too soon, and the Bears drop back to the Southland Conference to gather themselves.


  • Membership: Akron, Ball State, Bowling Green, Indiana, Miami (Ohio), Minnesota, Northern Illinois, Northern Iowa, Ohio, Southern Illinois, Toledo, Western Michigan
  • Promoted to Big Ten: Minnesota
  • Demoted to Missouri Valley: Miami (Ohio)

Hey, hey! Minnesota's back!

Mountain West

  • Membership: Air Force, Fresno State, Hawaii, Montana, New Mexico, San Diego State, Stanford, UCLA, Washington
  • Promoted to Pac-10: Stanford
  • Demoted to WAC: New Mexico

Jim Harbaugh's Cardinal make a predictable jump back to the big-time. It will be a while before they face relegation again. Meanwhile, New Mexico's awful 2009 squad earns an easy demotion while Montana proves itself capable of staying in Tier 2 after two promotions in two years.

Sun Belt

  • Membership: Arkansas State, Florida Atlantic, Furman, Middle Tennessee, Troy, UL-Lafayette, Vanderbilt, Western Kentucky, Wofford
  • Promoted to SEC: Troy
  • Demoted to Southern: Western Kentucky

With Appalachian State's demotion, a Sun Belt title for Vanderbilt would mean that the SEC's original lineup has once again been established. But it is not meant to be -- one of Larry Blakeney's better Troy squads steals the bid.

Tier III


  • Membership: Army, Colgate, Delaware, Duke, Hofstra, Maine, Northeastern, Rhode Island, Syracuse, Temple, Villanova, William & Mary
  • Promoted to Big East: Villanova
  • Demoted to Patriot: Rhode Island


  • Membership: Cal Poly, McNeese State, Nicholls State, North Dakota State, Northwestern State, SMU, South Dakota State, UC Davis
  • Promoted to Conference USA: SMU
  • Demoted to Pioneer / Great West: Northwestern State

Missouri Valley

  • Membership: Eastern Kentucky, Eastern Michigan, Jacksonville State, Kent State, Missouri State, Western Illinois, Youngstown State
  • Promoted to MAC: Jacksonville State
  • Demoted to Ohio Valley / Northeast: Western Illinois


  • Membership: Colorado State, Eastern Washington, Louisiana Tech, Nevada, San Jose State, UNLV, Utah State, Washington State, Weber State
  • Promoted to Mountain West: Nevada
  • Demoted to Big Sky: Weber State


  • Membership: Coastal Carolina, Elon, Florida International, Georgia Southern, Liberty, North Texas, The Citadel, UL-Monroe
  • Promoted to Sun Belt: Elon
  • Demoted to Big South: Coastal Carolina

Tier IV


  • Membership: Bucknell, Fordham, Georgetown, Holy Cross, Lafayette, Lehigh, Towson
  • Promoted to Colonial: Holy Cross

Pioneer / Great West

  • Membership (Pioneer): Austin Peay, Butler, Campbell, Davidson, Dayton, Drake, Jacksonville, Marist, Morehead State, San Diego, Valparaiso
  • Membership (Great West): North Dakota, Northern Colorado, Sam Houston State, SE Louisiana, South Dakota, Southern Utah, Stephen F. Austin, Texas State
  • Promoted to Southland: Stephen F. Austin

Ohio Valley / Northeast

  • Membership (Ohio Valley): Eastern Illinois, Illinois State, Indiana State, Murray State, Samford, SE Missouri State, Tennessee State, Tennessee Tech, UT-Martin
  • Membership (Northeast): Albany, Central Connecticut State, Duquesne, Monmouth, Robert Morris, Sacred Heart, St. Francis (PA), Wagner
  • Promoted to Missouri Valley: Illinois State

Big Sky

  • Membership: Idaho, Idaho State, Montana State, New Mexico State, Northern Arizona, Portland State, Sacramento State, Wyoming
  • Promoted to WAC: Wyoming

Big South

  • Membership: Charleston Southern, Chattanooga, Gardner-Webb, Stony Brook, VMI, Western Carolina
  • Promoted to Southern: Chattanooga

This would have been a fascinating national title race. It's quite possible that the champions of four of Tier 1's five conferences go undefeated: Alabama, Texas, Cincinnati and the winner of Boise State-TCU. Perfect for a playoff ... if one were to exist. Otherwise, Boise State still gets screwed despite a heavyweight schedule.

Your Potential Five-Team Tier 1 Playoff: No. 1 Alabama vs. No. 6 Boise State / No. 8 Ohio State, No. 2 Texas vs. No. 3 Cincinnati

Intro | 2005 | 2006 | 2007 | 2008 | 2009 | 2010 | 2011 | 2012

Log In Sign Up

Log In Sign Up

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior users will need to choose a permanent username, along with a new password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

I already have a Vox Media account!

Verify Vox Media account

Please login to your Vox Media account. This account will be linked to your previously existing Eater account.

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior MT authors will need to choose a new username and password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

By becoming a registered user, you are also agreeing to our Terms and confirming that you have read our Privacy Policy.


You must be a member of to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at You should read them.


You must be a member of to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at You should read them.




Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.