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Friday, June 14, 2013

Hypocrisy in NCAA Scheduling

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Hypocrisy in NCAA Scheduling
By Wild on Sports Analyst Bryan Ridall

If you are a fan of college football, you know that it is filled with various hypocrisies and the politics that comes with the multi-billion dollar industry that college football is. However, one of the worst hypocrisies, involves the scheduling process, which is a direct result of the outdated and soon defunct BCS system. Teams in non-BCS conferences have gone undefeated and haven’t been allowed in BCS bowl games because their schedule isn’t tough enough, while teams in BCS-conferences are allowed to schedule four cupcake games against lesser teams and even FCS teams, while hiding behind their “tough” conference schedule.

Don’t get me wrong, every now and then one of the matchups that involve FBS vs. FCS teams can be unbelievably exciting, like the famous 2007 Michigan vs. Appalachian State game, in which App State beat the #5-ranked Wolverines because of blocked field goal at the end of regulation. While these games can boost recruiting and program visibility, the lesser teams are really in it for the money. Appalachian State was offered $400,000 to play at Michigan and in most people’s eyes, be a punching bag to start off the season for the Wolverines. FCS teams are offered around $500,000 to play a major football program, even though the possibility of winning is extremely slim. For these FCS teams, it is an opportunity to get their players prime-time television spots and play in front of crowds of around 100,000, at least double what most of the FCS schools draw for their games. FBS teams are even allowed to schedule their weak opponents when they want, so they can place them a week before a tough matchup, or even between two week in which teams play tougher opponents. For example, this year Alabama will be playing FCS team Chattanooga on November 16th, a week after playing at Mississippi State, and a week before their rivalry Iron Bowl match up with Auburn. While neither team looks to be a national championship contender, both teams play an extremely physical brand of football, and the “rest” in competition between the two teams will allow Alabama to get the rest that they need to beat both teams.

The real hypocrisy comes with conferences like the Mountain West and WAC, who often have teams that finish the year undefeated, but are looked down upon because of the strength of the conference that they play in. While it is true that teams like Boise State play in conferences weaker than BCS conferences, and thus have schedules that are measured as weaker than other teams, that can’t be held against them. Teams that have real national championship aspirations refuse to put teams on their non-conference schedules that could seriously affect those chances, notably Boise State, a team who has gone 84-8 since head coach Chris Peterson took over in 2006, and has won two BCS Bowls in that time. The worst part for teams in non-BCS conferences is that one loss not only knocks them out of championship contention, but in many cases, out of the Top-25 rankings, because the ranking formula is so heavily influenced by strength of schedule. Even if they go undefeated, non-BCS teams can barely get a fair ranking and a chance in BCS bowls, with non-BCS teams making only eight appearances in BCS bowls in the last 15 years, even though many teams have been deserving. Also, six of those eight teams were undefeated and didn’t garner any consideration for the national championship game.

Unfortunately, for non-BCS schools, the new playoff system won’t help them if they stay in their conferences. Teams like TCU and Utah, perennial non-BCS powers, have already converted to BCS conferences in order to hopefully get their chance at better BCS placement and possibly even a spot in the playoff bracket. Unless college football can find a way to force the marquee teams to schedule the better non-BCS teams, their ability to get placement in championship games and bowls will be hindered, and the hypocrisy on college football will continue.

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