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College Football Relegation In Action: 2008

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.

appalachian state
appalachian state

In three seasons, some of college football's lesser programs have dropped to a more applicable weight class. Idaho and New New Mexico State are in the Big Sky. Duke, Syracuse and Temple are in what is now the Colonial Athletic Association. SMU is in the Southland. Miami and N.C. State are in the Big East. Baylor and Iowa State are in Conference USA. Minnesota is in the MAC. Stanford, Washington and Washington State are in the Mountain West. Ole Miss is in the Sun Belt.

Meanwhile, the merit-based side of the equation has rewarded quality programs with higher-quality conferences. Montana is in the WAC and gearing up for another move. UMass, New Hampshire and Richmond are in the Big East. Northern Iowa, Southern Illinois and Youngstown are in the MAC. Boise State, BYU and TCU are in the Pac-10. The Central Michigan Fightin' Dan LeFevours are in the Big Ten.

The system works, no?

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

"Kragthorpe'd" takes on a new meaning as Louisville, promoted to new digs under Bobby Petrino, drops back to the Big East after two years in Tier 1. Meanwhile, Virginia Tech ends West Virginia's two-year reign atop the ACC.

Big 12

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

Central Florida's propensity for thriving one year and sinking the next does them no favors here, and their stay in Tier 1 is short after a miserable 2008 campaign. But Tulsa keeps right on trucking in what is now an even more offense-heavy conference. (Seriously, replacing Iowa State with Tulsa gives the 2008 Big 12 one of its only possible offensive upgrades.)

Big Ten

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

The Fightin' LeFevours stay up for a third year, and Indiana finally earns the relegation one would have assumed would happen immediately.


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

The dead weight here is almost nonexistent. That's a bad thing for Rick Neuheisel's first UCLA squad.


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

Thanks to the sudden collapse of FAU, Appalachian State holds on for a third year! One has to assume stadium expansion has begun in Boone, NC.

Tier II

Big East

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

And Miami is stuck in Tier 2 for another year. Brian Kelly's strong Cincy squad (assuming Kelly still ends up at Cincy instead of staying at a now-Tier 1 Central Michigan school) easily earns the promotion.

Conference USA

  • Membership: Baylor, East Carolina, Houston, Iowa State, Marshall, Memphis, North Dakota State, Rice, Southern Miss, Tulane, UAB, UTEP
  • Promoted to Big 12: Rice
  • Demoted to Southland: North Dakota State

Without Tulsa to hold them down, David Bailiff's Rice Owls cruise to a conference title and earn what will be a quick stay in the top tier.


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

Brady Hoke's senior-laden Ball State Cardinals barely miss a promotion, getting upset by Buffalo in the MAC title game. But here's the question: if he's that close to Tier 1 in the MAC, does he still leave for San Diego State in Alternate 2008?

Mountain West

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

And there's Predictable MWC Promotion No. 4, combined with what is, sadly, a rather predictable demotion as well. It is impossible to overstate how bad Wazzu's 2008-09 squads were.

Sun Belt

  • Membership: Arkansas State, Furman, Middle Tennessee, Ole Miss, Troy, UL-Monroe, Vanderbilt, Wofford
  • Promoted to SEC: Ole Miss
  • Demoted to Southern: UL-Monroe

Welcome back, Houston Nutt and Ole Miss!

Tier III


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


  • Membership: Central Arkansas, McNeese State, Nicholls State, Northwestern State, Sam Houston State, SMU, South Dakota State, UC Davis
  • Promoted to Conference USA: Central Arkansas
  • Demoted to Pioneer / Great West: Sam Houston State

Missouri Valley

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


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

Montana makes it two promotions in two years.


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

Tier IV


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

Colgate: a Tier 3 yo-yo club.

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, Southern Utah, Stephen F. Austin, Texas State
  • Promoted to Southland: Cal Poly

Ohio Valley / Northeast

  • Membership (Ohio Valley): Eastern Illinois, Indiana State, Jacksonville 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: Jacksonville State

Big Sky

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

Big South

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

So even with a playoff, the national title race has really not been impacted much by promotion and relegation. The top teams are the top teams, no matter who is filling in the bottom portion of the conference. But one could see how this might help TCU or Boise State in 2009.

Your Potential Five-Team Tier 1 Playoff: No. 1 Oklahoma vs. No. 8 Penn State / No. 19 Virginia Tech, No. 2 Florida vs. No. 5 USC

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