So it's time to take stock of where we stand after seven seasons of promotion and relegation. Some teams (Boise State, Cal Poly, Central Florida, Elon, Montana, New Hampshire, North Dakota State, TCU, Tulsa) have taken full advantage of the opportunities at their disposal and improved their respective lots in life. Others were simply (and predictably) unable to keep up. When your team sees a sudden collapse, like Boston College did in 2011, for instance, the repercussions are significant.
And, of course, this year Missouri and Texas A&M join the SEC. Real life continues to interfere.
Teams in green font below are no longer in their original conference.
- Membership: Cincinnati, Clemson, Connecticut, Florida State, Georgia Tech, Miami, N.C. State, North Carolina, Pittsburgh, Virginia, Virginia Tech
- Membership: Baylor, Central Florida, Kansas State, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas, Texas Tech, Tulsa, TCU, West Virginia
- Membership: Illinois, Iowa, Michigan, Michigan State, Nebraska, Northern Illinois, Northwestern, Notre Dame*, Ohio State, Penn State, Purdue, Toledo, Wisconsin
- Membership: Arizona, Arizona State, Boise State, BYU, California, Colorado, Nevada, Oregon, Oregon State, Stanford, USC, Utah
- Membership: Alabama, Appalachian State, Arkansas, Auburn, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, LSU, Mississippi State, Missouri, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas A&M, Vanderbilt
- Membership: Boston College, James Madison, Louisville, Maryland, Navy*, New Hampshire, Rutgers, South Florida, Syracuse, Temple, Wake Forest
- Membership: Cal Poly, East Carolina, Houston, Iowa State, Kansas, Marshall, Rice, SMU, Southern Miss, Stephen F. Austin, UAB, UTEP
- Membership: Ball State, Bowling Green, Buffalo, Central Michigan, Indiana, Miami (Ohio), Minnesota, North Dakota State, Northern Iowa, Ohio, Southern Illinois, Western Michigan
- Membership: Air Force, Fresno State, Hawaii, Louisiana Tech, San Diego State, UCLA, Washington
- Membership: Arkansas State, Elon, Furman, Georgia Southern, Middle Tennessee, Ole Miss, Troy, UL-Lafayette, Wofford
- Membership: Army, Delaware, Duke, Hofstra, Lehigh, Maine, Massachusetts, Northeastern, Old Dominion, Richmond, Towson, Villanova, William & Mary
- Membership: Central Arkansas, Jacksonville, McNeese State, Memphis, Sam Houston State, South Dakota State, Tulane, UC Davis
- Membership: Eastern Kentucky, Illinois State, Indiana State, Jacksonville State, Kent State, Missouri State, Western Illinois, Youngstown State
- Membership: Colorado State, Eastern Washington, Idaho, Montana, Montana State, San Jose State, Utah State, Washington State, Wyoming
- Membership: Chattanooga, Florida Atlantic, Florida International, North Texas, Stony Brook, The Citadel, UL-Monroe, Western Kentucky
- Membership: Bucknell, Colgate, Fordham, Georgetown, Holy Cross, Lafayette, Rhode Island
Pioneer / Great West
- Membership (Pioneer): Austin Peay, Butler, Campbell, Davidson, Dayton, Drake, Marist, Morehead State, Nicholls State, San Diego, Valparaiso
- Membership (Great West): Lamar, North Dakota, Northern Colorado, Northwestern State, SE Louisiana, South Dakota, Southern Utah, Texas State
Ohio Valley / Northeast
- Membership (Ohio Valley): Akron, Eastern Illinois, Eastern Michigan, 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
- Membership: Idaho State, New Mexico, New Mexico State, Northern Arizona, Northern Colorado, Portland State, Sacramento State, UNLV, Weber State
- Membership: Charleston Southern, Coastal Carolina, Gardner-Webb, Liberty, Presbyterian, VMI, Western Carolina
The concept of relegation adds a certain layer of justice to college football. You must both earn and maintain your spot at the highest level, and if you don't, somebody else will. A program like Duke cannot continue to earn major-conference television revenue if they haven't done anything to earn it, while a program like Boise State is rewarded for repeatedly making the right moves and playing at a high level. (And as mentioned in the intro, this is exactly why a relegation system will never exist.)
The repercussions of a promotion-and-relegation system would go beyond even what is listed here. Certain rivalries would take on new meaning, as evidenced in 2005, when the losers of both the Egg Bowl and Apple Cup are relegated. Other new rivalries would blossom, like the Oregon-Boise State-TCU trifecta that would have emerged in bitter 2010-11 conference title races. And of course, if we thought recruiting and transfers were crazy and obscene before relegation ... well, you probably wouldn't enjoy where relegation would take us in that regard. Coaches would get fired more quickly, players would transfer at higher rates, et cetera.
Still, when you can combine justice with added excitement, that makes it a net gain, right?