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College Football Relegation In Action: 2011

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.

Mar 21, 2011; Waco, TX, USA; Baylor Bears quarterback Robert Griffin III (10) prepares to take the field during the Baylor pro day at the Allison Indoor Facility. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-US PRESSWIRE
Mar 21, 2011; Waco, TX, USA; Baylor Bears quarterback Robert Griffin III (10) prepares to take the field during the Baylor pro day at the Allison Indoor Facility. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-US PRESSWIRE

Here's where things get awkward. Conference realignment began to rear its head in real 2011, with Nebraska joining the Big Ten and Colorado and Utah joining what would become the Pac-12. How do we handle that in this experiment?

1. Nebraska still joins the Big Ten.

2. Colorado joins the Pac-12, but since Utah was already there, that means there are only 11 teams involved. So we'll say that BYU, which earned relegation in 2010, actually stays up. Don't you hate it when reality and alternate reality collide?

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, N.C. State, North Carolina, Pittsburgh, Virginia, Virginia Tech, West Virginia
  • Champion: West Virginia
  • Demoted to Big East: Boston College

West Virginia wins its conference for the third time in six years in the ACC, while Boston College's collapse means that within four years they fall from (briefly) No. 2 in the country in 2007 to Tier 2 membership.

Big 12

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

Oklahoma State is the anti-Boston College, moving from 2005 demotion to nearly a spot in the 2011 national title game.

Big Ten

  • Membership: Illinois, Iowa, Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, Nebraska, Northern Illinois, Northwestern, Ntore Dame*, Ohio State, Penn State, Purdue, Wisconsin
  • Champion: Wisconsin
  • Demoted to MAC: Minnesota

I already named Ole Miss the West Brom of college football. I guess that makes Minnesota Birmingham, another yo-yo club that cannot stay in one Tier.


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

Another wonderful conference title race goes to Oregon, while Mike Stoops' final Arizona squad is relegated (in favor of an in-state rival, no less).


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

Troy fell apart in 2011, dropping from 8-5 to 3-9. Needless to say, that is probably 1-11, at best, in the SEC.

Tier II

Big East

  • Membership: James Madison, Louisville, Maryland, Miami, Navy*, New Hampshire, Rutgers, South Florida, Syracuse, Villanova, Wake Forest
  • Promoted to ACC: Miami
  • Demoted to Colonial: Villanova

A mediocre Miami squad still earns promotion in a mediocre conference, while Villanova keeps up its own yo-yo progression.

Conference USA

  • Membership: Baylor, Houston, Iowa State, Kansas, Marshall, Rice, SMU, Southern Miss, Stephen F. Austin, Tulane, UAB, UTEP
  • Promoted to Big 12: Baylor
  • Demoted to Southland: Tulane

Robert Griffin III probably throws for 8,000 yards in Conference USA, whether he is playing for Baylor or Houston. But does he win the Heisman? Probably not. And he therefore probably returns to Waco (or Houston) in 2012.


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

In real 2011, Tim Beckman earned a promotion to the Big Ten when he accepted Illinois' head coaching job. In alternate 2011, the whole team comes with him.

Mountain West

  • Membership: Air Force, Arizona State, Eastern Washington, Fresno State, Hawaii, San Diego State, UCLA, Washington
  • Promoted to Pac-10: Arizona State
  • Demoted to WAC: Eastern Washington

The Mountain West is down to two original members, and what was a disappointing Arizona State squad in the Pac-12 is an exciting, promotion-worthy squad in Tier 2. The Sun Devils barely hold off Washington for the title and bump.

Sun Belt

  • Membership: Arkansas State, Elon, Florida Atlantic, Furman, Georgia Southern, Middle Tennessee, Ole Miss, Vanderbilt, Wofford
  • Promoted to SEC: Vanderbilt
  • Demoted to Southern: Florida Atlantic

James Franklin is already known as Vandy's savior; with promotion involved, that goes double. Meanwhile, Howard Schnellenberger's career is punctuated by a second relegation following the miraculous run to (one year in) the SEC.

Tier III


  • Membership: Army, Colgate, Delaware, Duke, Hofstra, Lehigh, Maine, Massachusetts, Northeastern, Old Dominion, Richmond, Temple, William & Mary
  • Promoted to Big East: Temple
  • Demoted to Patriot: Colgate


  • Membership: Cal Poly, Central Arkansas, Jacksonville, Lamar, McNeese State, Memphis, South Dakota State, UC Davis
  • Promoted to Conference USA: Cal Poly
  • Demoted to Pioneer / Great West: Lamar

Missouri Valley

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


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


  • Membership: Chattanooga, Florida International, Liberty, North Texas, Stony Brook, UL-Lafayette, UL-Monroe, Western Kentucky
  • Promoted to Sun Belt: UL-Lafayette
  • Demoted to Big South: Liberty

Tier IV


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

Pioneer / Great West

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

Ohio Valley / Northeast

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

Big Sky

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

Big South

  • Membership: Charleston Southern, Coastal Carolina, Gardner-Webb, Presbyterian, The Citadel, VMI, Western Carolina
  • Promoted to Southern: The Citadel

The 2010 and 2011 seasons saw a regulation of sorts, as more dead weight was skimmed from Tier 1 and some previously powerful programs (Miami, Syracuse, Arizona State) were able to once again establish themselves in higher tiers.

Your Potential Five-Team Tier 1 Playoff: No. 1 LSU vs. No. 10 Wisconsin / No. 23 West Virginia, No. 3 Oklahoma State vs. No. 5 Oregon

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