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Post Nine conference games a good idea

Monday May 12, 2008

Terry Bowden commends the ACC for considering a 9-game conference schedule, and I agree with him.

If we’re going to keep the college football postseason unchanged, the one title a team has complete control over is its conference championship. Yet as conference expansion has pushed membership in several conferences from eight to twelve members, conference schedules in most cases haven’t grown in response. The PAC 10 and Big East are the only BCS conferences in which all teams play each other.

Playing eight out of ten or eleven other schools might seem good enough, but the quirks of scheduling can mean that a conference champion hasn’t necessarily played the best competition that the conference has to offer. Last season’s SEC champion, LSU, didn’t have to play Georgia. The 2006 ACC champion, Wake Forest, didn’t play Miami. Ohio State won the Big 10 in 2006 without playing Wisconsin. Georgia avoided a 10-2 Alabama team in 2005. It doesn’t always work out that way of course, but not all schedules within a particular conference are created equal.

While some schools have used the 12th game to improve their nonconference schedules, others have used them to pad the schedule with an additional easy home game (and given what gets rewarded in college football, I can’t blame them). It might be impossible to get nationwide consensus on tougher scheduling, but it is an issue that can be tackled conference by conference. Two of them have already done so, and the ACC is considering heading down that direction (along with an 18-game conference basketball schedule!). The occasional marquee nonconference game might seem like an appealing alternative, but there is still room on the schedule for those if a team is willing to give up some of its lighter fare.

Bowden’s money quote:

Isn’t it funny how protecting the integrity of the regular season is so dadgum important when it comes to a playoff, but it doesn’t mean squat when it comes to the teams we actually play?

Perfect…right down to the classic Bowden "dadgum".

2 Responses to 'Nine conference games a good idea'

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  • Meh. I see the logic, especially if you can get a true round robin like the Pac 10. But in the SEC or even Big 10 (well, 11), you still leave potential for not playing all the potentially relevant games.

    Meanwhile, I’d rather see teams we rarely see (Ok St, Arizona St) or rekindle old rivalries (Clemson) than play Arkansas an extra time every few years.

    Possible but controversial solution: Teams must schedule at least 2 of their 4 non-conference games against BCS-league teams or traditional rivals (like if Louisville were still in C-USA) in order to be eligible for an SEC title. Teams could schedule a “non-conference” game against one of the SEC teams not on their regular SEC rotation in order to meet this goal (to help alleviate the “nobody wants to play us!” problem that ADs might claim).

    Just a thought.

  • Yeah, I see your point that the nice out of conference games are a much more attractive option. It’s just that if most schools are going to take the easy way out, it doesn’t make sense to make things tougher than they have to be. A conference is more than a revenue-sharing organization (or is it?). I don’t really want conferences (or the NCAA) messing with my discretionary schedule and telling me whom I can and can’t play out of conference, but I wouldn’t have a problem with a conference expanding its own conference schedule.