As part of SBNation CFB's week-long ode to the concept of relegation in college football ("Relegation Week," they're calling it), I thought I would take a look at each conference's records over the last 20 years or so to see which unhappy programs would have been relegated in each individual year.*
*SBN CFB writers much more talented than I could ever dream of being are doing this same thing across the entire scope of CFB (read: not isolated to the power conferences) over the next few days. This is not intended to interfere with those efforts, which will be much more complex.
For those unfamiliar with the concept, relegation is the process by which teams in European sports leagues, primarily and most famously those playing soccer, move between levels each year based on the results of that league. In the English Premier League, for example, the bottom 3 teams (out of 20 total) in a given year move down a level, or are "relegated," and are replaced by 3 teams from the level below. For this season, that means that Bolton Wanderers, Blackburn Rovers, and Wolverhampton Rangers are all moving down to the Football League Championship (English level 2 with 24 teams). Southampton and West Ham United earned two of the three spots back in the Premier League for next season with the remaining spot yet to be determined by tournament.
As I noted earlier in the day, Spencer Hall laid the ground rules for any CFB relegation talk in his piece yesterday on why college football, and America, needs relegation. Included in those ground rules were the conference affiliations; in order to have relegation, you have to have somewhere to relegate to and promote from. Because this is now my post and we're doing this purely for fun, I'm going to change his affiliations ever so slightly. Instead of the MWC, the Pac12 will get the WAC. MWC will shift to the Big 12, which pushes CUSA to the SEC in place of the Sun Belt. The ACC is hilariously tied to the Big East. Some may say it's a raw deal for the Pac12 to get the WAC, but I'm not overly concerned about that for today. Maybe I'll do the Pac12 tomorrow and actually give a damn.
One thing Spencer didn't mention is how many teams should rise and fall per conference. In the EPL, a league with 20 teams, 3 move per year. Through most of recorded CFB history, the major conferences have had either 10 or 12 teams. 25 or 30% of each conference seems like too much to move per year, so let's say 2. The bottom 2 teams from each of the power conferences will be relegated and the top 2 from their affiliated conferences promoted.
Let's start with the Big 12, our home conference, below the jump. The Big 12's results were, after all, basically the entire reason I wanted to do this: I wanted to see how often my beloved Baylor Bears would have been relegated based on each year's individual results. SPOILER ALERT: Way too freaking often.
We have to start with one small note: the Mountain West Conference (the Big 12's hypothetical mate) began play in 1999. Rather than try to match the Big 12 up with another conference before '99, I'll just note the relegated teams (luckily, it's the same two!) for those years and then pick up the promotions with the MWC start of play.
Here are the Big 12's results listed alphabetically from 1996 through this past season, 2011. Be forewarned, Baylor fans, this isn't pretty:
As you can tell, I've bolded each year where a team/school finished in the bottom two of the conference (11th or 12 place until this past season, then 9th or 10th) and would have faced relegation. As you can also tell, this is an exceedingly embarrassing chart for fans of Baylor Football. I would also posit "infuriating" as a description from our perspective.
A few thoughts:
- Wow. It's amazing that Baylor has any fans left after that stretch from '96-04. Most programs go through "down periods" where things look pretty bad. Our down period lasted a decade. I hate you, Kevin Steele.
- Of the 32 possible relegation spots (two spots per year), Baylor owns 11 of them. The next-highest is Iowa State with 7. Kansas has 4.
- Seriously, Kevin Steele, you are awful.
- Of the 12 conference schools, only Nebraska, Oklahoma, and Texas would have avoided relegation altogether. The moral of that story: don't talk s***, Texas A&M.
- 2009 was the beginning of the upswing for Baylor even if 2010 doesn't show it. That was the year Robert Griffin III was injured for nearly the entire season.
Combining the above results with those of the MWC from 1999 on, we get the following victims of relegation and promotion per season:
|2000||Baylor||Oklahoma St.||Colorado St.||Air Force|
|2002||Baylor||Kansas||Colorado St.||New Mexico|
|2003||Baylor||Iowa St.||Utah||New Mexico|
|2004||Baylor||Kansas St.||Utah||New Mexico|
|2005||Kansas St.||Oklahoma St.||TCU||BYU|
|2007||Baylor||Iowa St.||Air Force||BYU|
|2008||Texas A&M||Iowa St.||TCU||Utah|
|2011||Texas Tech||Kansas||TCU||Boise St.|
A few more thoughts:
- Both charts are a little strange because a team cannot be relegated two years in a row from the same league. For example, if Baylor were relegated in 2001 and replaced with Colorado State, we could not have also been relegated from the Big 12 in 2002. I suppose we could have been relegated further in 2002, but I don't know where to ... Hell, maybe?
- Now that I look at it further, the MWC has a certain Pac12 flair to it after all. Oh well.
- With this relegation scheme, the Big 12 would have, at some point, featured the New Mexico Lobos. If that doesn't blow your mind, I don't know what will. It would have also included Air Force, which is actually pretty cool.
So what would you think, fans of the Big 12, of a conference next year that loses Texas Tech and Kansas but gains TCU and Boise?