This is the next entry in my series on relegation in college football.
Ahhhh yes, the Year of the Upset. The Autumn Uprising.
Kansas vs Mizzou still played every year, and people actually cared this time, as it was #1 vs #2 in the last week of the season.
USF, Rutgers and Boston College spent extended stretches in the Top 10.
LSU won the national championship with 2 losses.
Annnnnd Miami went 5-7 and got blown out by Virginia in the final game in the Orange Bowl.
I guess it's comforting to know that after years of making the "Miami to the Sun Belt" joke, this year it actually would have happened. This was the year of the Kirnobyl meltdown against NC State, so I guess it should surprise no one that Miami ended up on the wrong side of a relegation fight with the Pack.
Fuck this season.
ACC - Miami
Big East - Houston
Big 10 - Minnesota
Big 12 - Baylor
Pac 10 - Washington State
SEC - Ole Miss
So much to process there. Miami is obviously a huge deal. Ole Miss becomes the first team to get relegated twice. Bad year for the Stein Brothers.
Meanwhile, Hawaii and Central Michigan surprisingly stay put, and another current powerhouse, Baylor, shuffles off this mortal coil.
Conference USA - UCF
MAC - Illinois
Mountain West - Air Force
Sun Belt - Mississippi State
WAC - Fresno State
At Large - Troy (also in the mix: Nevada, Navy, Utah)
Big boys Mississippi State and Illinois claw their way back from the abyss, while Air Force becomes our first service academy to make it up. UCF and Fresno, mid-majors long classified as "dangerous", make it up, while Troy springs 2 consecutive upsets to make it out of the tournament. Utah was a Top 40 team in terms of F/+, and yet doesn't make it out of a field of 3 teams ranked 60th or higher. Go figure.
The SEC, on the heels of a national title, take Mississippi State back in, while the Pac 10 stays local and takes Fresno State over Air Force, despite the latter being a better academic fit.
Then comes the Big 12, who pull the first major shock of this experiment.
With their pick, the Big 12 opts for the big media market and the more prestigious program, taking Illinois over Air Force. To this point, perhaps through a bit of luck, these proceedings have had a bit of a congenial vibe in which the conferences try to respect each other's turf.
It may not seem it, but this would have been a BIG deal in this hypothetical world, a sort of canary in the coal mine. Everyone wanted to screw each other, but no one wanted to make the first move. Consider that no longer an issue.
The Big 10, in a state of shock, takes Air Force, while the ACC has UCF fall into their laps as a big school in Florida to take the place of Miami.
I just got a shiver down my spine thinking about the shit that UCF's fan base, mostly made up of Trump conspiracy theorists claiming the system is rigged, would have talked after this moment.
Stephen Ross probably would have let UCF play their home games in Dolphins Stadium.
I hated this season then, and I hate it even more in retrospect.