Strength of schedule will and should be part of the selection process for a college football playoff. You can forgive Georgia fans for being a little sensitive about the topic as we’ve heard the griping about Georgia’s schedule since it came out. While schedule will certainly be a factor to decide between two otherwise similar teams, an SEC champion – especially an undefeated champion – won’t have much explaining to do. Before we run off and schedule Murderer’s Row to impress the selection committee, a few mostly stating-the-obvious points:
- The strength of schedule will be just one of many criteria considered. If college football finds its RPI, schedule will already be part of the formula. What else will a committee possibly consider? As an example, the basketball committee also looks at record against top 50 teams, conference and non-conference performance, and performance away from home. Many of those criteria have a strength of schedule component (a road win over a top 50 team would be golden), but teams can compensate for weaker schedules by being strong in other areas.
- Even under current scheduling practices, it’s hard for me to accept that an undefeated champion of a major conference will be left out of the playoff. Wins will still matter more than schedule.
- Yes, the Big 10 / Pac-12 partnership will likely bump the strength of schedule for those conferences. It will also give several good teams an additional loss.
- The same can be said for conferences with nine-game schedules. You might get the benefit of an additional tough conference game, or your ninth game might be against Indiana. An additional conference game still means an extra loss for half the teams in the conference.
- Even in a season with the most favorable conference schedule, any team worthy of consideration for the playoff will likely have to face a strong opponent for the conference title. This opponent won’t appear on the preseason schedule, but it will factor into the final strength of schedule calculations.
- Along those lines, strength of schedule is determined after the season and not before it. We can have a reasonably informed discussion during the offseason about a team’s schedule, but there are always the preseason paper tigers who tank and the darkhorses who wind up a lot better than expected.
- Georgia’s strength of schedule is bound in no small way to Georgia Tech. While the Dawgs might occasionally schedule an additional BCS-conference opponent, the Jackets’s permanent spot on the schedule means that the strength of Georgia’s non-conference slate will rise and fall with the quality of their rival. Does that put us in the awkward position of wanting a stronger-than-average Tech program?