clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

How college football relegation could affect your team, in a 15-year simulation

Wanna see how much more interesting promotion and relegation would make college football?

If you buy something from an SB Nation link, Vox Media may earn a commission. See our ethics statement.

North Dakota State, Western Michigan, Navy, and Applachian State would all be at college football’s highest tier if this simulation were reality.
Getty Images

Political anchor issues serve clear purposes. They tend to be ideologically pure issues, things that get your mind in the right place and your base excited. They also tend to be less politically realistic; they’re pretty far out there sometimes, and introducing them is often a tactic for drawing acceptable compromise.

The anchor issue for my College Football Commissioner platform was relegation. It is a pet issue, and of the items on the commish wish list, it would be the least likely to actually enact.

Relegation introduces fairness and merit to a sports environment that can often lack it.

* Your conference affiliation is impacted by which programs you buddied up to 100 years ago. It has little to do with what you’ve accomplished, or proved you could accomplish, on the field in modern times.

* The conference you happen to be in thus determines so much about your standing in the sport, from your revenue to your competition to your chance at a title.

* European soccer long ago introduced promotion and relegation, or breaking one enormous league — England’s Football League or Germany’s Deutscher Fußball-Bund, for instance — into tiers. The top teams in a league’s tier get to move up, and the bottom teams have to move down. (See below for how this would work in CFB.)

* Aside from maybe college basketball, no American sport — not even soccer — would benefit from or more seamlessly fit this than college football. We have so many teams, in every part of the country, with such clearly defined levels of prestige to strive for.

It is something, however, that has to be enacted at the start of a league’s existence; trying it later on will meet massive resistance from those already in the top tier of the sport. That doesn’t make it any less of a great idea, though.

And to further illustrate the fairness it can introduce, I attempted a massive simulation. A 15-year simulation, to be exact.

This would likely work best if each power conference had a tier of conferences set up beneath it.

So Tier I is the Power Five, Tier II is the Group of Five (with the AAC tied to the ACC, Conference USA tied to the Big 12, the MAC tied to the Big Ten, the Mountain West tied to the Pac-12, and the Sun Belt tied to the SEC), Tier III is the top FCS conferences, and on and on.

There are plenty of variations you could attempt. I discussed a lot of them in this relegation opus.

  • You could set up eliminator games. Instead of relegating the last-place team in one tier and promoting the winner of the tier below, you could have them play for the spot in mid-December.
  • As a carrot on the stick, you could offer the opportunity for big programs to field junior teams at smaller levels.
  • You could make it a two-year process to slow down movement and allow teams suffering a bad season to rally the next year.

To look at the potential effects, however, I kept things simple.

Worst team goes down; best team moves up. I set up eight tiers to incorporate all of Divisions I-III as they existed in 2002 — certain tiers include more than one conference in a given region (the Northeast and Patriot conferences in Tier IV, for instance) — and I set the ball in motion.

For grins, since it was part of the commissioner platform as well, I set up an eight-team Playoff for Tier I that included the five conference champions and three at-larges. And as a way of tracking the best teams in each tier at a given time, I also included a mock championship for Tiers II-IV.

(Because you have to set up a ton of rules for this dumb sport, I made Ivy League teams eligible for the Tier IV championship but not for promotion or relegation.)

Enough talking. Here’s the simulation*.

* How did I simulate these results? With duct tape and chicken wire, basically. Obviously there isn’t going to be a good way to simulate how a Division III team might fare in changing Division II conferences, perhaps against a couple of former FCS teams. I used actual results where possible, S&P+ where feasible, Sagarin where needed, Logan Hansen’s Division III ratings at times, too. But a lot of this came down to figuring out rough “Your record was X-X in real life Tier VI, and the jump to Tier V appears to be worth about one fewer win” generalizations. It was messy. So be it.


  • 8-team Tier I playoff: 8 Kansas State at 1 Miami, 5 Iowa at 4 USC, 6 Washington State at 3 Georgia, 7 Oklahoma at 2 Ohio State
  • Relegated from Tier I: Duke, Indiana, Kansas, Stanford, Vanderbilt
  • Promoted to Tier I: Colorado State, Marshall, North Texas, TCU, West Virginia
  • Tier II championship: Colorado State vs. West Virginia
  • Tier III championship: Boise State vs. Western Kentucky
  • Tier IV championship: McNeese State vs. Penn


  • 8-team Tier I playoff: 8 Florida State at 1 Oklahoma, 5 Texas at 4 Michigan, 6 Ohio State at 3 USC, 7 Kansas State at 2 LSU
  • Relegated from Tier I: Arizona, Illinois, Iowa State, Mississippi State, North Carolina
  • Promoted to Tier I: Boise State, Miami (Ohio), Middle Tennessee, Pitt, Southern Miss
  • Tier II championship: Boise State vs. Miami (Ohio)
  • Tier III championship: Delaware vs. Fresno State
  • Tier IV championship: Colgate vs. Northern Arizona


  • 8-team Tier I playoff: 8 Iowa at 1 USC, 5 Cal at 4 Texas, 6 Virginia Tech at 3 Auburn, 7 Georgia at 2 Oklahoma
  • Relegated from Tier I: Baylor, Kentucky, Marshall, Washington, Wake Forest
  • Promoted to Tier I: Boston College, Georgia Southern, Louisville, Northern Illinois, Utah
  • Tier II championship: Louisville vs. Utah
  • Tier III championship: Navy vs. Stanford
  • Tier IV championship: Harvard vs. UTEP


  • 8-team Tier I playoff: 8 West Virginia at 1 USC, 5 Oregon at 4 Ohio State, 6 Notre Dame at 3 Penn State, 7 Georgia at 2 Texas
  • Relegated from Tier I: Colorado State, Miami (Ohio), North Texas, Oklahoma State, Pitt
  • Promoted to Tier I: Akron, Iowa State, North Carolina, Stanford, Vanderbilt
  • Tier II championship: Iowa State vs. Stanford
  • Tier III championship: Appalachian State vs. Nevada
  • Tier IV championship: SMU vs. Texas State


  • 8-team Tier I playoff: 8 West Virginia at 1 Ohio State, 5 LSU at 4 USC, 6 Louisville at 3 Michigan, 7 Boise State at 2 Florida
  • Relegated from Tier I: Akron, Georgia Southern, Iowa State, NC State, Stanford
  • Promoted to Tier I: BYU, Central Michigan, Kentucky, Rutgers, USF
  • Tier II championship: BYU vs. Rutgers
  • Tier III championship: Hawaii vs. UMass
  • Tier IV championship: Mount Union vs. Portland State


  • 8-team Tier I playoff: 8 West Virginia at 1 Ohio State, 5 Georgia at 4 Oklahoma, 6 Missouri at 3 Virginia Tech, 7 USC at 2 LSU
  • Relegated from Tier I: Middle Tennessee, Northern Illinois, Southern Miss, Syracuse, Washington State
  • Promoted to Tier I: Hawaii, Illinois, Kansas, Mississippi State, Wake Forest
  • Tier II championship: Kansas vs. Wake Forest
  • Tier III championship: Richmond vs. Washington
  • Tier IV championship: Chadron State vs. Elon


  • 8-team Tier I playoff: 8 Virginia Tech at 1 Oklahoma, 5 USC at 4 Alabama, 6 Utah at 3 Texas, 7 Penn State at 2 Florida
  • Relegated from Tier I: Central Michigan, Hawaii, Louisville, Mississippi State, Virginia
  • Promoted to Tier I: Appalachian State, Arizona, Ball State, Oklahoma State, Pitt
  • Tier II championship: Arizona vs. Oklahoma State
  • Tier III championship: James Madison vs. Rice
  • Tier IV championship: Minnesota-Duluth vs. Weber State


  • 8-team Tier I playoff: 8 Georgia Tech at 1 Alabama, 5 Florida at 4 Boise State, 6 Oregon at 3 TCU, 7 Ohio State at 2 Texas
  • Relegated from Tier I: Arizona State, Ball State, Colorado, Maryland, Vanderbilt
  • Promoted to Tier I: Central Michigan, Cincinnati, Mississippi State, Stanford, UConn
  • Tier II championship: Cincinnati vs. UConn
  • Tier III championship: Villanova vs. Washington
  • Tier IV championship: SC State vs. UW-Whitewater


  • 8-team Tier I playoff: 8 Virginia Tech at 1 Auburn, 5 Wisconsin at 4 Stanford, 6 Boise State at 3 TCU, 7 Oklahoma at 2 Oregon
  • Relegated from Tier I: Central Michigan, Cincinnati, Ole Miss, UCLA, Wake Forest
  • Promoted to Tier I: Arizona State, Georgia Southern, NC State, Northern Illinois, Tulsa
  • Tier II championship: Arizona State vs. NC State
  • Tier III championship: Delaware vs. Nevada
  • Tier IV championship: Eastern Washington vs. FIU


  • 8-team Tier I playoff: 8 Wisconsin at 1 LSU, 5 Arkansas at 4 Stanford, 6 Oregon at 3 Oklahoma State, 7 West Virginia at 2 Alabama
  • Relegated from Tier I: Appalachian State, Kansas, Minnesota, North Carolina, Oregon State
  • Promoted to Tier I*: Baylor, Houston, Montana, Nevada, Toledo, Vanderbilt, Virginia, Washington
  • Tier II championship: Baylor vs. Toledo
  • Tier III championship: North Dakota State vs. Temple
  • Tier IV championship: Illinois State vs. Montana State

* Due to conference realignment — Nebraska moving to the Big Ten, Colorado moving into the Pac-12’s ecosystem (but not into the Pac-12 because of Tier II status at the time), two teams are promoted to the Big 12 and three are promoted to what is now the Pac-12.


  • 8-team Tier I playoff: 8 Georgia at 1 Notre Dame, 5 Kansas State at 4 Oregon, 6 Stanford at 3 Florida, 7 Florida State at 2 Alabama
  • Relegated from Tier I: Boston College, Houston, Illinois, Kentucky, Montana
  • Promoted to Tier I*: Cincinnati, Louisville, North Carolina, North Dakota State, Ole Miss, Oregon State, Syracuse
  • Tier II championship: Ole Miss vs. Oregon State
  • Tier III championship: Kent State vs. Utah State
  • Tier IV championship: Central Arkansas vs. San Jose State

* Due to conference realignment, two teams are promoted to the ACC and two are promoted to the Big 12


  • 8-team Tier I playoff: 8 Missouri at 1 Florida State, 5 Stanford at 4 Michigan State, 6 Baylor at 3 Alabama, 7 Ohio State at 2 Auburn
  • Relegated from Tier I: California, Georgia Southern, Purdue, UConn, USF
  • Promoted to Tier I*: Bowling Green, Duke, East Carolina, Navy, UCF, UCLA, UL-Lafayette
  • Tier II championship: UCF vs. UCLA
  • Tier III championship: Colorado State vs. UW-Whitewater
  • Tier IV championship: Eastern Illinois vs. North Texas

* Due to conference realignment, three teams are promoted to the ACC.


  • 8-team Tier I playoff: 8 Michigan State at 1 Alabama, 5 Baylor at 4 Ohio State, 6 TCU at 3 Florida State, 7 Mississippi State at 2 Oregon
  • Relegated from Tier I: Bowling Green, Nevada, Syracuse, Tulsa, Vanderbilt
  • Promoted to Tier I*: Boston College, Houston, Louisiana Tech, Marshall, Minnesota, Utah State
  • Tier II championship: Louisiana Tech vs. Minnesota
  • Tier III championship: Illinois State vs. Memphis
  • Tier IV championship: Coastal Carolina vs. South Dakota State


  • 8-team Tier I playoff: 8 Ohio State at 1 Clemson, 5 Iowa at 4 Oklahoma, 6 Stanford at 3 Michigan State, 7 Notre Dame at 2 Alabama
  • Relegated from Tier I: East Carolina, Oregon State, Rutgers, UCF, UL-Lafayette
  • Promoted to Tier I: Bowling Green, California, Memphis, Temple, Western Kentucky
  • Tier II championship: California vs. WKU
  • Tier III championship: Southern Miss vs. WMU
  • Tier IV championship: Akron vs. Chattanooga


  • 8-team Tier I playoff: 8 Wisconsin at 1 Alabama, 5 Penn State at 4 Washington, 6 Oklahoma at 3 Ohio State, 7 Michigan at 2 Clemson
  • Relegated from Tier I: Bowling Green, Cincinnati, Marshall, Missouri, Utah State
  • Promoted to Tier I: Appalachian State, Colorado, Tulsa, USF, Western Michigan
  • Tier II championship: Colorado vs. WMU
  • Tier III championship: Wyoming vs. Youngstown State
  • Tier IV championship: Charleston Southern vs. New Mexico

Starting in 2002 and adjusting for realignment as best as possible (it was messy), here’s where things ended up heading into 2017.

And yes, my Missouri Tigers became the first Playoff participant to end up getting relegated. Whatever. In my simulation, Mizzou wins the 2007 title. Worth it.

College Football Relegation, Tier I

ACC Big 12 Big Ten Pac-12 SEC
ACC Big 12 Big Ten Pac-12 SEC
Boston College Baylor Iowa Arizona Alabama
Clemson Houston (2) Michigan Arizona State Appalachian State (2)
Duke Kansas State Michigan State Boise State (2) Arkansas
Florida State Louisville Minnesota BYU (2) Auburn
Georgia Tech Memphis (2) Nebraska California Florida
Miami Oklahoma North Dakota State (4) Colorado Georgia
Navy (2) Oklahoma State Northern Illinois (2) Oregon LSU
NC State TCU Northwestern Stanford Louisiana Tech (2)
North Carolina Texas Notre Dame UCLA Mississippi State
Pittsburgh Texas Tech Ohio State USC Ole Miss
Temple (2) Tulsa (2) Penn State Utah South Carolina
USF (2) West Virginia Toledo (2) Washington Tennessee
Virginia Western Michigan (2) Texas A&M
Virginia Tech Wisconsin Western Kentucky (2)

A team’s original tier, if different from the current one, is noted in parentheses.

College Football Relegation, Tier II

AAC Conference USA MAC MWC Sun Belt
AAC Conference USA MAC MWC Sun Belt
Army Cincinnati Bowling Green Air Force Arkansas State
California (Pa.) (6) East Carolina Central Michigan Colorado State Chattanooga (3)
James Madison (3) Iowa State (1) Illinois (1) Eastern Washington (3) Georgia Southern (3)
Lehigh (4) Jacksonville State (4) Illinois State (3) Nevada Georgia State
Marshall Kansas (1) Indiana (1) Oregon State (1) Kentucky (1)
New Hampshire (3) NW Missouri State (5) Kent State Rice Middle Tennessee
Old Dominion (3) Sam Houston State (4) Maryland (1) San Diego State Missouri (1)
Richmond (3) SMU Minnesota-Duluth (5) San Jose State South Alabama
Syracuse (1) Southern Miss Northern Iowa (3) Southern Utah (3) Troy
UCF South Dakota State (4) Ohio Utah State UL-Lafayette
Villanova (3) Tulane Purdue (1) Washington State (1) UTSA (3)
Wake Forest (1) Wis.-Whitewater (7) Wyoming Vanderbilt (1)
Youngstown State (3) Wofford (3)

College Football Relegation, Tier III

Atlantic 10 OVC MVC WAC Southern
Atlantic 10 OVC MVC WAC Southern
Albany (4) Charlotte (2) Akron (2) Colorado Mines (5) Central Arkansas (4)
Colgate (4) Eastern Kentucky Ball State (2) CSU-Pueblo (5) Charleston Southern (4)
Connecticut (2) McNeese State (4) Buffalo (2) Fresno State (2) Coastal Carolina
Fordham (4) Midwestern State (5) Eastern Illinois Idaho Florida Atlantic (2)
Indiana (Pa.) (6) Samford Grand Valley State (5) Montana (4) Liberty (4)
Maine Tennessee State Indiana State Montana State (4) North Alabama (5)
Stony Brook (4) Texas State (2) Miami (Ohio) (2) New Mexico (2) North Texas (2)
UMass (2) Emporia State (6) Mount Union (7) Northern Arizona (4) The Citadel
West Chester (6) Mary Hardin-Baylor (7) Rutgers (1) UNLV (2) UL-Monroe (2)
William & Mary North Dakota Shepherd (6) UTEP (2) Valdosta State (5)
Southern Illinois
Western Illinois

College Football Relegation, Tier IV

NEC-Patriot-Ivy Southland Pioneer-MAAC Big Sky Big South-MEAC-SWAC
NEC-Patriot-Ivy Southland Pioneer-MAAC Big Sky Big South-MEAC-SWAC
American Int'l (5) Central Missouri (6) Ashland (5) Azusa Pacific (6) Albany State (Ga.) (6)
Bentley (5) Minnesota State (6) Dayton Cal Poly Alcorn State
Bloomsburg (6) Murray State (3) Drake Central Washington (6) Arkansas Tech (5)
Brown Pittsburg State (6) Duquesne Chadron State (5) Bethune-Cookman
Bryant SE Louisiana Eastern Michigan (2) Colorado Mesa (5) Delta State (5)
Columbia South Dakota Ferris State (5) Hawaii (2) Elon (3)
Cornell Stephen F. Austin Indianapolis (5) Linfield (7) Florida A&M
Dartmouth Tarleton State (5) Marist New Mexico State (2) Florida International (2)
Delaware (3) UT-Martin (3) Mercer San Diego Furman (3)
Harvard West Texas A&M (5) Missouri State (3) Gardner-Webb
Holy Cross North Central (8) Grambling State
Ivy St. Thomas (Minn.) (8) Hampton
Monmouth Stetson Jackson State
Penn Wheaton (Ill.) (8) Kennesaw State
Princeton NC A&T
Sacred Heart NC Central
Towson Norfolk State
Wagner Prairie View A&M
Wesley (7) SC State
Yale Southern
Tuskegee (6)
Western Carolina (3)
Winston-Salem (6)

College Football Relegation, Tier V

Northeast 10 GAC-Lone Star GLIAC RMAC Gulf South
Northeast 10 GAC-Lone Star GLIAC RMAC Gulf South
Bucknell (4) Angelo State Butler (4) Cal Davis (4) Alabama A&M (4)
Carson-Newman (6) Abilene Christian (4) Concord (6) Eastern New Mexico Alabama State (4)
Kutztown (6) Coe (8) Hillsdale Fort Hays State Elizabeth City State (6)
Lafayette (4) Houston Baptist (4) Jacksonville (4) Northern Colorado (4) Florida Tech
Lenoir-Rhyne (6) Lamar (4) Mercyhurst Portland State (4) Harding
LIU Post (6) Nicholls State (4) Michigan Tech Sacramento State (4) Henderson State
Presbyterian (4) Northwestern State (4) Morehead State (4) South Dakota Mines Howard (4)
Rhode Island (3) SE Missouri State (3) Northwood Weber State (4) Morgan State (4)
Robert Morris (4) Southern Nazarene Saginaw Valley Western State Ouachita Baptist
Slippery Rock (6) St. Cloud State (6) Sioux Falls (6) Southern Arkansas
St. Francis (PA) (4) Tennessee Tech (3) Wabash (7) Texas Southern (4)
Texas A&M-Commerce Walsh Thomas More (8)
Texas A&M-Kingsville Wayne State (MI) West Georgia
Winona State (6)

College Football Relegation, Tier VI

Alderson Broaddus Augustana (SD) Austin Peay (4) Adams State (5) Ark.-Monticello (5)
Alfred (8) Central (Iowa) (8) Bemidji State Black Hills State (5) Bowie State
Assumption (5) Central Oklahoma (5) Bethel (Minn.) (8) Dixie State Centre (7)
Catawba East Central (5) Campbell (4) Humboldt State Christopher Newport (8)
Central Connecticut (4) Hardin-Simmons (8) Charleston (WV) Idaho State (4) Clark Atlanta
Clarion Lindenwood Davidson (4) Nebraska-Kearney (5) Chowan
Delaware Valley (8) McKendree Fairmont State Pacific Lutheran (7) Delaware State (4)
East Stroudsburg Missouri Western Findlay (5) Western New Mexico (5) Fayetteville State
Edinboro Monmouth (Ill.) (8) Franklin (7) Western Oregon Fort Valley State
Gannon Quincy Glenville State Whitworth (7) Huntingdon (8)
Georgetown (4) SE Oklahoma (5) Lake Erie (5) Johnson C. Smith
John Carroll (7) St. Joseph's (Ind.) Minot State Kentucky State
Johns Hopkins (8) SW Oklahoma (5) Northern Michigan (5) Limestone
Mars Hill Texas-Permian Basin (5) Northern State Lincoln (PA)
Merrimack (5) Trinity (Tex.) (7) Notre Dame College Malone
Muhlenberg (8) Truman State St. John's (Minn.) (8) Miles
Newberry Wartburg (8) SW Minnesota State Morehouse
North Greenville Washburn Urbana MVSU (4)
Ohio Northern (7) UVA-Wise Salisbury (7)
Rowan (8) Valparaiso (4) Savannah State (4)
Shippensburg Wayne State (Neb.) Shaw
Southern Connecticut (5) West Liberty UAPB (4)
St. John Fisher (8) Wis.-Oshkosh (7) Virginia State
Stonehill (5) Wittenberg (8) Virginia Union
Tusculum West Alabama (5)
UNC Pembroke

College Football Relegation, Tier VII

OAC Southern (SCAC) WIAC Northwest Atlantic Central
OAC Southern (SCAC) WIAC Northwest Atlantic Central
Baldwin-Wallace DePauw Case Western (8) Cal Lutheran (8) Frostburg State
Bridgewater (Va.) (8) Dubuque (8) Concordia-St. Paul (6) Chapman (8) Lane (6)
Capital Eureka (8) Mary (6) Claremont-M-S (8) NC Wesleyan (8)
Curry (8) Lake Forest (8) Rose-Hulman Fort Lewis (5) Randolph-Macon (8)
Hobart (8) Missouri S&T (6) Tiffin (5) La Verne (8) Rhodes
Ithaca (8) Missouri Southern (6) Wis.-La Crosse New Mexico Highlands (5) Shenandoah (8)
SUNY Cortland (8) Northwestern-St. Paul (8) Wis.-Platteville Pacific (OR) Shorter (5)
Western New England (8) St. Scholastica (8) Wis.-Stevens Point Redlands (8) St. Augustine's (6)
Widener (8) William Jewell (6) Willamette Washington (Mo.) (8)
WV Wesleyan (6) SW Baptist (6)

College Football Relegation, Tier VIII

Centennial + 8 others American SW + 4 others CCIW + 6 others Southern California USA South + 2 others
Centennial + 8 others American SW + 4 others CCIW + 6 others Southern California USA South + 2 others
Albright Austin Adrian George Fox (7) Apprentice School
Alfred State Austin College (7) Albion Lewis & Clark (7) Averett
Amherst Beloit Allegheny Occidental Berry
Anna Maria Buena Vista Alma Pomona-Pitzer Birmingham Southern
Bates Carroll (Wis.) Anderson Puget Sound (7) Catholic
Becker Chicago Augsburg Simon Fraser (6) Emory & Henry
Bowdoin Cornell College Augustana (Ill.) Whittier Ferrum
Brevard (6) Crown Aurora Greensboro
Bridgewater State CWRU Benedictine (Ill.) Guilford
Brockport East Texas Baptist Bethany (WV) Hampden-Sydney
Buffalo State Greenville Bluffton Hendrix
Castleton State Grinnell Carleton Kentucky Wesleyan (6)
Cheyney (6) Howard Payne Carnegie Mellon LaGrange
Coast Guard Illinois College Carthage Lincoln (MO) (6)
Colby Iowa Wesleyan Concordia (Wis.) Livingstone (6)
College of NJ Knox Concordia Chicago Maryville (Tenn.)
Dickinson Lawrence Concordia-Moorhead Methodist
Endicott Loras Defiance Millsaps (7)
FDU-Florham Louisiana College Denison Mississippi College
Fitchburg State Luther Earlham Otterbein (7)
Framingham State Macalester College Elmhurst Sewanee
Franklin & Marshall MacMurray Finlandia Washington & Lee
Gallaudet Martin Luther Geneva
Gettysburg McMurry Grove City
Hamilton NE Oklahoma (5) Gustavus Adolphus
Hartwick Nebraska Wesleyan Hamline
Heidelberg (7) Panhandle State (5) Hanover
Husson Presentation Hiram
Juniata Ripon Hope
Kean Simpson Illinois Wesleyan
King's (Pa.) Southwestern (TX) (7) Kalamazoo
Lebanon Valley St. Norbert Kenyon
Lock Haven (6) Sul Ross State Lakeland
Lycoming Texas Lutheran Manchester
Maine Maritime Westminster (Mo.) Marantha Baptist
Marietta (7) Millikin
Mass. Maritime Minn.-Crookston (6)
Mass.-Dartmouth Minn.-Moorhead (6)
McDaniel Minn.-Morris (7)
Merchant Marine Mt. St. Joseph
Middlebury North Park
Millersville (6) Oberlin
Misericordia Ohio Wesleyan
MIT Olivet
Montclair State Rockford
Moravian Seton Hill (6)
Morrisville State St. Olaf
Mount Ida St. Vincent
Muskingum (7) Thiel
New Jersey City Trine
Nichols Upper Iowa (6)
Norwich Washington & Jefferson
Pace (5) Waynesburg
Plymouth State Westminster (Pa.)
Rensselaer Wis.-Eau Claire (7)
Rochester Wis.-Lutheran
Salve Regina Wis.-River Falls (7)
Southern Virginia Wis.-Stout (7)
Springfield Wooster
St. Anselm (5) WV State (6)
St. Lawrence
SUNY Maritime
Trinity (Conn.)
Union (NY)
Western Connecticut
Westfield State
William Paterson
Wilmington (Ohio) (7)
Worcester State

To start 2017, one former FCS team is playing in Tier I (North Dakota State, naturally), and three Division II schools (California-Pa., Northwest Missouri State, and UM-Duluth) and a Division III school (Wisconsin-Whitewater) have made it to Tier II. (Northwest has the longest winning streak in college football right now.)

And in noteworthy plummets, Rutgers has fallen from Tier I to Tier III in just two years, three Group of Five teams (EMU, NMSU, FIU) are stuck in Tier IV, and 11 FCS teams have fallen to Tier VI.

Colorado was in Tier III as recently as 2015 but pulled off back-to-back promotions. This was probably good for the ego, as the Buffaloes were not only behind Tier II Colorado State in 2015. They were sharing the Tier III WAC with Colorado School of Mines and Colorado State-Pueblo. Ouch.