Conference realignment endgame, part 2: The Lineup


In my first post in this series, I examined the need for a geographically-based promotion/relegation system in college football. Such a system would make no sense, however, with our all-over-the-map conferences arranged as they currently are.

To wit, I have rearranged the top-tier BCS conferences to align them with a specific geography. Basically, instead of having multiple conferences overlapping every state, each state is assigned to only one "stack" of conferences in the promotion/relegation system. I attempted to preserve historical rivalries in the initial organization of this system, but was forced to break a few. For example, LSU is no longer in the SEC, and Georgia Tech and Clemson are cut off from basically the rest of the current ACC.

Because there are far more teams in the eastern and central part of the U.S. than the west, the Pac-12 stack has fewer teams than all the others, but if there's one thing the current system has shown us, it's that it is virtually impossible to draw a completely clean line between conferences. The ACC has also taken over much of the Big East's old footprint, and because there aren't a lot of Division I football teams in the northeast, it covers a large number of states. (In fact, I had to promote two I-AA teams to the second tier just to complete a 12-team second-tier conference.)

Here is the new conference/stack map for the promotion/relegation system:

Newconferences_medium

The stack breakdown by state is as follows. (The total number of schools in the stack is in parentheses.) Every Division I school in each state is in the associated stack, with one exception noted later:

SEC stack (45): GA, FL, AL, MS, SC, TN, KY

ACC stack (49): NC, VA, WV, VA, DC, MD, DE, NJ, CT, RI, MA, PA, NY, NH, VT, ME

Big Ten stack (39): OH, IN, MI, IL, WI, MN, IA, ND, SD

Big XII stack (42): LA, TX, AR, OK, KS, NE, NM, CO, WY

Pac-12 stack (33): CA, AZ, UT, NV, OR, WA, ID, MT, HI

Now, when flaming my conference alignment in the comments below, please remember that I haven't changed the 8-game conference schedule or the 12-game overall schedule, so out-of-conference matchups are always available to teams who are no longer grouped in the same stack or conference.

Also, remember that conference alignment will literally change every year, with the best two performers advancing a level and the worst two performers dropping a level.

NOTE: If you don't care about how each stack breaks down, just jump down to the comments at this point!

Remember the promotion/relegation rules:

- Each of the top two tiers is a twelve-team league with two divisions. The third tier is broken down into two conferences, which are not limited in size.
- At the end of the season, the team in each division with the worst conference record is relegated to the league on the next lower tier.
- At the end of the season, the second-tier team who wins their division is promoted to the BCS league in their stack.
- At the end of the season, the winners of each of the two third-tier conferences is promoted to the second-tier league in their stack. (For the Pac-12 stack, which only has one third-tier conference, the top two finishers from that league are promoted.)

Each stack breaks down initially as follows:

SEC

(Top)

East West
Clemson Alabama
Florida Auburn
Florida State Mississippi State
Georgia Ole Miss
Ga. Tech Tennessee
South Carolina Vanderbilt

Conference USA

(Second-Tier)

East West
Florida Atlantic Kentucky
Florida International Louisville
Troy Memphis
UAB Middle Tenn. State
Central Florida Southern Miss
South Florida Western Kentucky

Third-Tier Conferences


Southern Conference (TN, AL, KY) Big South Conference (GA, FL, SC)
Austin Peay Charleston Southern
Chattanooga The Citadel
Eastern Kentucky Coastal Carolina
Jacksonville State (AL) Furman
Morehead State Georgia Southern
Murray State Georgia State
North Alabama Jacksonville U. (FL)
Samford Presbyterian
South Alabama Wofford
Tennessee-Martin
Tennessee State
Tennessee Tech

Arkansas and LSU are gone, which was a necessity of the geographically-based classification system. Techies might not be too happy to be in the same conference once again with Georgia, but they'll get over it. I also chose to keep Vandy in the top tier over Kentucky or Louisville, though reasonable minds may disagree about that choice.

ACC

(Top)

North South
Boston College
Miami (FL)
Penn State
NC State
Pitt North Carolina
Syracuse Virginia Tech
UConn Virginia
West Virginia
Wake Forest

Big East

(Second-Tier)

North South
Army Appalachian State
Buffalo Duke
Delaware East Carolina
Rutgers Marshall
Temple Maryland
Villanova Navy

Third-Tier Conferences


Colonial Athletic Association (NC, KY, VA, DC)
Patriot League (DE, ME, NH, RI, PA, MA, MD, NY, WV)
Campbell Bucknell
Davidson Colgate
Elon Fordham
Gardner-Webb Holy Cross (MA)
Georgetown Lafayette
James Madison Lehigh
Liberty Maine
Old Dominion Marist
Richmond New Hampshire
VMI Rhode Island
Western Carolina Stony Brook
William & Mary Towson
UMass

Not too much crazy here, tough I did have to promote Appalachian State and Delaware to fill out the Big East.

Big Ten

(Top)

East West
Indiana
Illinois
Michigan
Iowa
Notre Dame
Minnesota
Ohio State
Northwestern
Purdue Wisconsin
Michigan State
Iowa State

Mid-American Conference

(Second-Tier)

East West
Cincinnati Northern Illinois
Akron Central Michigan
Kent Eastern Michigan
Bowling Green
Western Michigan
Miami (OH)
Toledo
Ohio U.
Ball State

Third-Tier Conferences


Pioneer Conference (IA, ND, SD, IL)
Ohio Valley Conference (IN, OH)
Drake Butler
North Dakota
Dayton
North Dakota State
Valparaiso
South Dakota
Indiana State
South Dakota State
Youngstown State
Northern Iowa

Eastern Illinois

Illinois State

Southern Illinois

Western Illinois

Penn State is gone, but we finally forced Notre Dame into its natural place. Even in the promotion/relegation system, though, the B1G is still the B1G. What do you want me to do about it?

Big XII

(Top)

North South
Colorado
Arkansas
Kansas
LSU
Kansas State
Oklahoma
Missouri
Texas Tech
Nebraska Texas
Oklahoma State
Texas A&M

Mountain West

(Second-Tier)

East West
Louisiana Tech
Baylor
Louisiana-Lafayette Air Force
Houston Wyoming
TCU
Tulsa
Rice
New Mexico
SMU
UTEP

Third-Tier Conferences


Southland Conference (LA, AR)
Missouri Valley Conference (TX, NM, CO, MO)
Louisiana-Monroe North Texas
Tulane
New Mexico State
McNeese State
UT San Antonio
Nicholls State
Lamar
Northwestern State (LA)
Sam Houston State
Southeastern Louisiana
Stephen F. Austin
Arkansas State
Texas State
Central Arkansas
Northern Colorado

Missouri State

SE Missouri State

Unfortunately, I had to separate OU and Oklahoma State into different divisions, but it was the best choice available given the team selections. OU and OSU can still be permanent inter-divisional opponents, though. The Mountain West might need to be renamed, but that's no great loss.

Pac-12

(Top)

North South
Boise State
Arizona
Cal
Arizona State
Oregon
BYU
Oregon State
UCLA
Stanford USC
Washington
Utah

WAC

(Second-Tier)

North South
Fresno State
Hawaii
Idaho Nevada
Washington State
UNLV
Montana
Utah State
Eastern Washington
San Diego State
San Jose State
Northern Arizona

Third-Tier Conference

Great West Conference (CA, UT, OR, ID, MT)
San Diego U.
Cal Poly
Southern Utah
UC-Davis
Portland State
Sacramento State
Weber State
Idaho State
Montana State

Based on their recent performance, I bumped Boise State up to the BCS conference at the expense of Washington State. Colorado is also gone from the Pac-12, sent back to their Big XII roots. Their spot is filled by BYU.

To fill out the WAC, I had to jump Montana, Eastern Washington (with the blood-red field), and Northern Arizona up to the second tier, but all three programs are I-AA power programs, so I'm not too concerned about them being way out of their league.

Well, that's the lineup, folks! If you actually followed me this far, then God bless you, 'cause you're a heck of a reader. I welcome your feedback below! I think this is an equitable system, and it completely eliminates the threat of further realignment. If a team from the lower tiers wants to play their way up into big-boy football, they have a path with which to do just that!

Did I get it way wrong? Should we avoid being in the same conference as Ga. Tech again at all costs? Let me know below! And...

Go Dawgs!

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