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Relegation Simulation: Rewriting College Football History

Time to put relegation into action with seven years of simulations. Boston College to the Big East? UCLA and Washington to the Mountain West? Which SEC team will be stuck in the Sun Belt in 2012? Monday: Why CFB needs relegation. Tuesday: How does relegation work? Wednesday: The CFB relegation system.

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Thus far in Relegation Week, we have explained to you the concept of promotion-and-relegation, we have discussed how it would or wouldn't work for college football, and we have laid out all of the college football universe into relegation-based tiers. Now it's time to find out what this structure would actually mean for college football's balance of power.

The question for today's series of posts is simple: What if college football had already adopted a promotion-and-relegation system starting in, say, 2005? What would the universe look like a few years later? How much of an impact would this actually have on how we follow college football (and who we follow)?

Below, you will find links for each fanciful season. Skip straight to the end or ride the roller coaster of year-to-year narratives. Behold, the most important Egg Bowl of all-time! An incredible home schedule at Kidd Brewer Stadium! The Sheffield Wednesdayization of Syracuse! A four-team playoff just for the fun of it! The perfect punctuation mark on Howard Scnellenberger's career!

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

Some notes:

  • If Jason Kirk's Long Live College Football Relegation post from yesterday were the basis of a video game, consider this the mobile version. Because of simple time management purposes, simulating six or seven full seasons from Tier 1 (BCS) to Tier 7 (NAIA) was unrealistic. For this exercise, we cut it off after four tiers. Now Indiana State can only fall so far.

    ACC Tiers: 1. ACC, 2. Big East, 3. Atlantic 10 (which eventually became Colonial), 4. Patriot
    Big 12 Tiers: 1. Big 12, 2. Conference USA, 3. Southland, 4. Pioneer & Great West
    Big Ten Tiers: 1. Big Ten, 2. MAC, 3. Missouri Vally, 4. Ohio Valley & Northeast
    SEC Tiers: 1. SEC, 2. Sun Belt, 3. Southern, 4. Big South

    (Remember, the point of this isn't necessarily accuracy so much as potential impact.)
  • One other process abbreviation: only one team per league is promoted or relegated in this scenario. Yesterday, Jason Kirk proposed something of a playoff between one tier's second-worst team and the below tier's second-best. We'll keep things comparatively simple here, if for no other reason than the impact is still going to be pretty large.
  • Determining results in this fanciful scenario is obviously going to result in some fancy twists of math. To keep things as simple as possible (because who wants a complicated alternate reality?), Jeff Sagarin's ratings were used when "FBS vs FCS" matchups came into play. His archive at USA Today is incredibly handy, and his ratings easily do the best job of determining how FBS and FCS teams tend to mesh together. (And you can feel free to post as many "My FBS school totally would have beaten that FCS school!" comments as you like, but if Sagarin disagrees, Sagarin disagrees.
  • Results were also based on the teams that actually existed in the given season. The Butterfly Effect for such a system, however, could go much further. If Ole Miss gets relegated to the Sun Belt in 2005, for example, Ed Orgeron doesn't sign a Top 15 class in 2006, Jevan Sneed probably does not transfer to Oxford following the 2006 season, etc. Half of Orgeron's recruiting class would have probably signed with new SEC member Arkansas State instead (and among other things, that would potentially make Arkansas State a stronger overall program, even if they got relegated the next year). But the What-Ifs become enormous if we go down that road. Just realize that if promotion-and-relegation were to take effect, coaches would get fired even more quickly than they already do, players would transfer at an even higher rate, and junior college recruits would suddenly be in incredibly high demand for schools that just got promoted.
  • We're treating independents with kid gloves here. Notre Dame gets affiliated with the Big Ten, while Army, Navy, and then-independent Temple are tied to the Big East. In Notre Dame's case, we'll say they aren't forced to play a Big Ten conference schedule or anything -- just that there is some formula somewhere that determines whether they get "relegated" or not. (And what "relegated" means when you aren't playing a conference schedule, we have no idea. Let's just move on. If we start to trip over details already, we'll never get through this.)
  • If you think FBS conference realignment has made things confusing, you haven't been paying attention to FCS. As programs like North Dakota State (all the Dakotas, really), Jacksonville State and Central Arkansas have established themselves, they have found the door open to bounce from conference to conference, as have other schools. We will handle these shifts on a one-for-one basis.
  • Yes, this entire exercise is in vain. College football decision makers would never sign onto such a thing, and for one simple reason: the higher-ups at certain football-poor BCS schools (I won't name names, but in 2005 examples may have included schools whose names rhyme with Kook, Naylor, Manford, Noshington, Noshington State, Poll Swiss and Manderbilt) would have strenuously objected to it, and therefore the top conferences would have also objected. For something like this to happen, it would have to come via NCAA decree ... and we'll just say that the NCAA doesn't tend to decree loud enough for college football to pay attention.
  • That said ... wow, does this system do a good job of skimming off the fat and creating quality competition at every level. I expected this to be a fun exercise, but it was even more fun than I anticipated.

Shall we get started?

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