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College Football Promotion and Relegation Revisited

Since the folks at the SB Nation mothership have declared it to be "college football relegation week," I figured I'd participate in the discussion by revisiting the proposal I made 5 months ago for a promotion/relegation system in college football. It was originally a two-post series, and the first post, in which I stated the benefits of such a system is located here. (I saw no need to re-post that entry.)

The bottom line is that conference realignment has gotten so crazy and out of hand that a new, simpler solution is needed. As is often the case, though, a simple solution might seem wildly radical at first. All I ask you to do, though, is look at the maps, and then I think you'll be convinced. (Well, convinced to listen to the whole argument, at least.)

The promotion/relegation system I have proposed is 99.9 percent geographically-based. Such a system is impossible, however, with our all-over-the-map conferences arranged as they currently are (not to mention how crazy it will get in 2013).

As a result, 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 IA/FBS football teams in the northeast, it covers a large number of states. (In fact, I had to promote two I-AA/FCS teams to the second tier just to complete a 12-team second-tier conference.)

For reference purposes, here is the current conference alignment as it will look for the 2012 football season:


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


Have I piqued your interest? Then, please, read on...

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 the lone exception of Miami (FL), who is in the ACC stack. I did this both for competitive reasons and because of the fact that Miami has far more in common from a demographics standpoint with the Atlantic seaboard and northern schools than the SEC. Here is the state breakdown:

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

ACC stack (57): NC, VA, WV, VA, DC, MD, DE, NJ, CT, RI, MA, PA, NY, NH, VT, ME

Big Ten stack (40): 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 membership will literally change every year, with the best two performers advancing a level and the worst two performers dropping a level.

Here are 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 top-tier 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.) For very large third-tier conferences, this might necessitate a playoff due to equivalent conference records (if whatever tiebreakers are in place are tied, as well).

For the first season, each stack breaks down as follows:



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

Conference USA


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
Samford Jacksonville U. (FL)
South Alabama Presbyterian
Tennessee-Martin Wofford
Tennessee State
Tennessee Tech

Projected results from 2011:

Relegated: Georgia Tech (to Conference USA)
Ole Miss (to Conference USA)
Florida Atlantic (to Big South)
Memphis (to Southern Conference)

Promoted: South Florida (to SEC)
Southern Miss or Louisville (to SEC)
Jacksonville State (to Conference USA)
Georgia Southern (to Conference USA)



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

Big East


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

Third-Tier Conferences

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

Projected results from 2011:

Relegated: Syracuse (to Big East)
North Carolina (to Big East)
Villanova (to Patriot League)
Duke (to CAA)

Promoted: Rutgers (to ACC)
Marshall (to ACC)
Old Dominion (to Big East)
Lehigh (to Big East)

Big Ten


East West
Notre Dame
Ohio State
Purdue Wisconsin
Michigan State
Iowa State

Mid-American Conference


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

Third-Tier Conferences

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

Eastern Illinois

Illinois State

Southern Illinois

Western Illinois

Robert Morris

Projected results from 2011:

Relegated: Indiana (to MAC)
Minnesota (to MAC)
Akron (to Ohio Valley)
Central Michigan (to Ohio Valley)

Promoted: Ohio U. (to B1G)
Northern Illinois (to B1G)
North Dakota State (to MAC)
Indiana State (to MAC)



North South
Kansas State
Texas Tech
Nebraska Texas
Oklahoma State
Texas A&M

Mountain West


East West
Louisiana Tech
Air Force
Louisiana-Lafayette Baylor
Houston Colorado State

Third-Tier Conferences

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

Northern Colorado

Missouri State

SE Missouri State

Projected results from 2011:

Relegated: Kansas (to Mountain West)
Texas Tech (to Mountain West)
Rice (to Missouri Valley)
UTEP (to Missouri Valley)

Promoted: Houston or TCU (to Big XII)
Baylor (to Big XII)
Sam Houston State (to Mountain West)
Central Arkansas (to Mountain West)



North South
Boise State
Arizona State
Oregon State
Stanford USC



North South
Fresno State
Idaho Nevada
Washington State
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
Portland State
Sacramento State
Weber State
Idaho State
Montana State

Projected results from 2011:

Relegated: Oregon State (to WAC)
Arizona (to WAC)
Idaho (to Great West)
UNLV (to Great West)

Promoted: San Jose State (to Pac-12)
San Diego State (to Pac-12)
Montana State (to WAC)
Portland State (to WAC)

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 wrong? Am I insane? Let me know below! And...

Go Dawgs!