Friday, June 12, 2009

Problems with College Football Schedules

Over the past couple days ESPN has put a couple of articles about college football scheduling including this one by Pat Forde and this one by Ivan Maisel.

Reading them was interesting and frustrating at the same time. Forde’s article mentions what I commented on last week about the depressing landscape of non conference games. He actually had the stat guys at the worldwide leader pull the number of games played between non conference teams and it is in decline.

So, we know we have a problem, how do we fix it? Well first off we need an incentive for schools to play good schools. Right now the voters and the almighty BCS are more concerned with record then they are with strength of schedule. In the current system an undefeated team from a major conference would go to the championship game, even if they played a cupcake schedule, before a one loss team who played nothing but ranked non conference teams. There should be some way to increase the weight of out of conference

Also, another problem with the current system is the amount of home games allowed. NFL teams complain about the disadvantage of losing 1 home game for the London game hurting their playoff chances. If we are trying to compare one school to another, how can it be fair that one school gets 2 extra home games compared to another one. And if you say home games shouldn’t matter, then why does Vegas automatically give the home team 3 points on the betting line. The NCAA should set a cap of home games at 7.

Will this change? No, because there is way to much money involved; Which leads me to the most frustrating part of the article which was reading about the SEC’s scheduling.

Now yes, this might be my Big Ten “homer-ism” coming out, but honestly the SEC is ridiculous. The most annoying part of their pathetic attempt at tough non conference scheduling is their lame excuse they give for the reason. “The SEC is such a meat grinder; we have to schedule easier games to give our teams a break.” WHAT!?!?!?!?!?!? You have to be kidding me. I thought the test of a true champion wants to beat the best, not to schedule easier teams to give yourself a rest. Also, was the SEC really that much more difficult than the Big XII last year? Sure Vanderbilt was good last year, but Auburn and Tennessee had down years. Every conference have teams fluctuate in quality year after year.

So we know the SEC stays at home, but two stats really jumped out at me. I don’t know if you remember the Georgia vs Arizona State game last year. The game got a lot of hype and what was one of the main reasons for this? Because it was the Georgia’s first trip out of the south since the 1960s! Not to be outdone by the Bulldogs, Florida has done them one better. According to Ivan Maisel’s article “The Gators have not played a regular-season, nonconference game outside the Sunshine State since 1991, when No. 5 Florida lost at No. 18 Syracuse 38-21. The next year, the SEC expanded to 12 teams and adopted an eight-game conference schedule.” How is the possible that this is acceptable? How can a two time BCS champion be allowed to carry on like this? The SEC always claims to have all this speed that the other conferences can’t keep up with. Well the reason they can play with this speed is that they never have to play in adverse weather. The farthest north Florida will ever have to get is to Kentucky, and that’s including Bowl games. So yes they are faster then everybody, but I’d like to see their schools come up north and play in some adverse weather, I would like to see how well their speed helps them then. Every other conference has to worry about weather, the SEC can just perfect the style for ideal weather conditions which is what all bowl games are played in.

Also, if the SEC ever does venture out of conference, when are those games played? Early in the season. Which is smart for them, if the schedule a home and home with a team up north, not only do they avoid any chance of playing in the snow, they also bring the northern school to the south and the heat that they aren’t used to.

For once in my life I would love to see Tebow and his fast Florida Gators come up to the Horseshoe, or Camp Randle in November with the snow falling and see how well their speed plays in that.

Will this ever happen, no, they make too much money in the swamp and they have won two BCS titles; If they can stay home and win championships why would they every leave. As I stated before, that this trend is going to continue and us fans will suffer by losing on high quality out of conference games. This is the biggest flaw that the BCS needs to fix, and as I’ve stated before, I’m one of 10 people left in America who likes the BCS. So please BCS solve this problem before you make it 9 fans of the BCS.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Late Night Links From Germany

Once again, our tireless troops (troop? hah) in the Armed Forces overseas have come through with a couple great links.

Here's Len Pasquarelli on Bears contract negotiator Cliff Stein, who has done a great job behind the scenes over the last several years. As Alec notes, "I'll let Rosie Colvin go for Lance Briggs any day of the week." Good point, I was really sad when Rosie (and Warrick Holdman) left, but those decisions are looking pretty good now.

And from CNN-Sports Illustrated, it's Jack McCallum's Bottom Ten! Included are notes on DeAngelo Hall's reaction to his Madden rating free fall (he dropped 25 points all the way to a 68. Ouch. That's positively Akili Smith-esque.), as well as pro skater Jereme Rogers' encounter with mushrooms, public nudity, and the police.

One from me, too. The New York Times' Howard Beck is covering the NBA finals, which the Kobes lead 2-0 after some overtime tonight. Gotta love the writing quality over there. I feel like the Times is almost singlehandedly keeping print journalism alive in the Internet era.

Ozzie Guillen today on the struggling White Sox: "We did what we do best: strike out." Tell it like it is. Still, only 4.5 games back in the AL Central.

One last link. I really enjoyed Tim Kurkjian's piece from ESPN The Magazine on Pittsburgh Pirates reliever (and Princeton graduate) Ross Ohlendorf. You can find it here.

Got links? Send 'em in. My email address is at the bottom of the page.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Bring the Big Ten/ACC Challenge to Football

Noffke got me thinking recently about how messed up major college football scheduling has become. The Big Five conference teams try to schedule mostly puff cakes who will come play in their stadiums without requiring a home-and-home series.

It's a shame, because I think that as a college football fan the best games to watch are those random major conference matchups early in the season. I have to give a lot of credit to Indiana University here for agreeing to a H-n-H with Virginia of the Atlantic Coast Conference, which starts this season. Hoosiers-Cavaliers isn't exactly a glorious matchup, but it should at least be more interesting than other early season games against the likes of Western Kentucky (ranked last by Athlon among FBS teams) or William and Mary for UVA (didn't my high school play them?).

So here's my solution. In college basketball, which already has a much better end of season setup than football, one popular scheduling idea over the last decade or so has been the conference 'Challenges,' most notably the Big Ten/ACC Challenge. Granted, this series has not gone very well for the Midwesterners–only Michigan State has a winning record.

But take a look at the matchups we'd get if we brought the inter-conference challenge to football! Hey. It works for Major League Baseball and gets butts in seats. Cubs-Sox are six of the best (and most watched!) games of the season in Chicago. Why wouldn't interleague work just as well for college football?

Here's how the matchups would shake out for this coming year, roughly based on last year's records. Best plays best, Duke is out because they finished last in the ACC.

1. Virginia Tech vs. Penn State: A great matchup of perennial contenders and great coaches in Joe Paterno and Frank Beamer.

2. Ohio State vs. Georgia Tech: Up and coming program in GT gets the Big Ten's best team, according to preseason rankings.

3. Florida State vs. Michigan State: Both teams are expected to be good this year.

4. Northwestern vs. Boston College: Excellent academics, solid football teams. BC lost a lot (coach, star defensive tackle) in the offseason. NU looks much improved on defense since changing coordinators, but lost most of its veteran offensive skill position players.

5. North Carolina vs. Iowa: Another great coaching matchup featuring Kirk Ferentz of Iowa against Butch Davis of UNC.

6. Wisconsin vs. Clemson: It's like a late-December bowl, only you can afford the tickets and tailgate at a great stadium, whoever the home team happens to be. Death Valley and Camp Randall are both awesome facilities.

7. Maryland vs. Minnesota: See above.

8. Illinois vs. Wake Forest: Wake is a much better opponent than either Illinois State or Fresno State, both of whom are on the Illini's schedule this season. Not that that's saying much.

9. Purdue vs. Miami (FL): Randy Shannon is on the hot seat, while Purdue is starting their first season without Joe "Orville Redenbacher" Tiller on the sidelines.

10. Michigan vs. NC State: Wolfpack was decent last season, and Michigan has to be better in Rich Rodriguez's second season.

11. Indiana vs. Virginia: This matchup is actually happening, as they start a home and home this year.