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 Post subject: Playoff will force teams to strengthen schedules
PostPosted: Tue Jul 03, 2012 10:29 am 
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Playoff will force teams to strengthen schedules
July 03, 2012, 05:30 AM EST


While having a selection committee choose the participants in college football's impeding four-team playoff has sparked some controversy, the one aspect of the new model that we can all agree is promising is the fact that an emphasis will be placed on strength of schedule.

Too many times we see teams schedule cupcake foes in September — and even in November — and chalk up easy victories. But with a new postseason model for 2014, schools are going to have to be mindful of their resume compared to other prospective playoff teams.

As Matt Hayes of the Sporting News noted recently in his series about nonconference schedules of all the teams in the BCS conferences, teams from the SEC and Big 12 typically play the easiest nonconference schedules in the nation. Perhaps not coincidentally, those two conferences have won more BCS national championships and played in more BCS title games than any other league. And according to Sporting News’ annual ranking of nonconference schedules, the SEC and Big 12 have six of the 10 worst noncon schedules among BCS schools in 2012.

Brady HokeICONBrady Hoke and Michigan will travel to Texas to play Alabama in the season opener.

However, to be fair, there are also programs from other leagues that have historically played weaker nonconference schedules. Such as Wisconsin, which has only played Arizona State and Oregon State out of conference in the past four years, as noted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg. In fact, the Badgers have only played three nonconference road games in the past three seasons: against UNLV and Hawaii as well as Northern Illinois (at Soldier Field in Chicago). Of course, fellow Big Ten member Michigan is set to play defending BCS national champion Alabama this season, Michigan State will play Boise State and Ohio State has always been open to playing tough nonconference opponents.

With the new playoff system placing an emphasis on strength of schedule, Wisconsin may want to reconsider some future nonconference foes. And according to athletic director Barry Alvarez, that is exactly what the program plans to do.

Per the Wisconsin State Journal, Alvarez understands the importance of strong nonconference scheduling in the changing postseason landscape. It's an issue that Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany fought for during the BCS meetings.

"If you want to be a player [in the national title picture] and strength of schedule is going to be a part of it, then you really have to consider [a different approach]," Alvarez said.

There have been reported recent discussions between ESPN, Wisconsin and Alabama to match the squads at a neutral site in the not-so-distant future. However, Badgers head coach Bret Bielema wanted a home-and-home series with the Crimson Tide. Alabama's Nick Saban declined, which is a little strange considering the Tide had a home-and-home with Penn State the last two seasons.

But even if that matchup doesn't occur, look for Wisconsin and other schools to make tougher scheduling a priority moving forward.

And that's exciting for everyone associated with the sport. As popular as college football has become — and it's arguably the No. 2 sporting brand behind the NFL — the month of September usually isn't very appetizing in terms of quality matchups.

Love or hate the idea of a selection committee, at least its inception will soon bring us more intriguing early-season matchups moving forward.

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 Post subject: Re: Playoff will force teams to strengthen schedules
PostPosted: Tue Jul 03, 2012 11:42 am 
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have historically played weaker nonconference schedules. Such as Wisconsin,


VT opens with Bama next year, 2013. Ohio State in 2014 and 15. Wisconsin in 16 and 17. We're set, probably over set.

The SEC and Big 12 (i could see sec getting away with this, the big 12 is a joke) will HAVE to schedule tougher OOC games, bottom line. SOS is a critical component to the new stuff. Conference success too. The wild card I've read is......academic success. Ie. One of the tiebreakers is program academic success, ie. sec is screwed on this component. A conference like the ACC is probably loving this with so many academic schools, and I could see the Pac/Big10 enjoying this also. They always talk up the rights of the student athletes, now it might actually matter.

I like the 4 team model they've crafted, but am still highly skeptical on whose on the committee. They think one day of basketball bubble is nuts, wait til an Ohio St gets bumped being 5th one year. I heard yesterday b/c of this scenerio, they might not disclose who on said committee, but how does that fly?

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 Post subject: Re: Playoff will force teams to strengthen schedules
PostPosted: Tue Jul 03, 2012 12:45 pm 
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I don't think it's going to matter much. Although I'm not sure what this "tier" ranking system is going to do.

Ultimately, I don't think it really matters because at the end of the day, the 4 teams are usually going to be a 1-loss Pac12, Big 12, SEC, ACC, or Big 10 teams. In the BCS, the boost you get from the strength of schedule, at least non-conference is minimal. SEC schools don't need to beef up because they play each other. And you'll get far more credit from playing 8 or 9 SEC schools than you would from playing some good non-conference schools. So continuing to put teams like Samford and Florida Atlantic isn't going to hurt you if you're beating teams like Florida, South Carolina, Georgia, and LSU.

The positive for the Big 12, Pac 12, and Big 10 is that they have already built-in power schools in conference. This is what is hurting the ACC. A school like Tech needs Miami, Florida State, Clemson, etc. to one of those Top 10 teams and be that on a consistent basis, so that by beating that team you get a big plus. That's what happened with teams like Oregon, Stanford, and USC in recent years in the Pac 12. And with the decline of Ohio State and Penn State in recent years, this is what hurt the Big 10 because now teams like Michigan State, Wisconsin, and Iowa are the power schools in that conference but they don't carry as much allure.

So in the end, I don't think you really have to beef up your non-conference schedule. Occasionally, it may cost a 5th team in a close one every once in a while, but it's not something that will matter most years. I think most years it'll be a lot like last year where the 4 teams are pretty apparent and all these other factors won't matter too much.

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 Post subject: Re: Playoff will force teams to strengthen schedules
PostPosted: Tue Jul 03, 2012 2:33 pm 
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I've seen the system retroactively applied, last year was easy, the year before was HELL. A hodgepodge of 4-5 evenly eligible teams for the 4th spot. So really, small differences in a SOS percentage matters a TON going fwd. When they fleshed out the ex, it really mattered when you're trying to find a differentiator.

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 Post subject: Re: Playoff will force teams to strengthen schedules
PostPosted: Wed Jul 04, 2012 2:15 pm 
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I don't think the year before would have been that big a mess. I think Stanford would have gotten in, just like they were the 4th team in the BCS rankings. I think the whole 3-way thing in the Big Ten between Wisconsin, Ohio State, and Michigan State would have screwed over all three teams. Stanford playing Wake Forest/Notre Dame non-conf, OSU playing Marshall/Miami, Wisconsin playing Arizona State/San Jose State, and Michigan State playing Notre Dame/FAU really wouldn't have meant a whole lot.

I think it's more about who you lose to than necessary who you beat. Stanford losing to Oregon the #2 team, helped them more than Wisconsin losing to MSU, Ohio State to Wisconsin, and Michigan State to Iowa. Of those teams, the most respectable loss belongs to Stanford. Does the fact that they beat Notre Dame by a larger margin than Michigan State factor into it? Sure. But is a win over 3-9 Wake Forest matter more than a win over 6-6 Western Michigan (for Michigan State), or a 1-12 San JOse State, or 4-8 FAU, or 5-7 Marshall? I don't think things like that are really going to matter.

Not trying to say strength of schedule doesn't matter. But I don't think Oklahoma has to suddenly start scheduling Houston instead of UTEP in the future. Or Alabama has to keep teams like FLorida Atlantic or Western Carolina off their schedule.

I think it's usually going to come down to undefeated and/or 1-loss teams. And it's going to matter more who you lost to rather than who you beat. If you're a 1-loss team and you lost to an undefeated team like Stanford did with Oregon in that year, that'll matter more than who their non-conference schedule was.

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 Post subject: Re: Playoff will force teams to strengthen schedules
PostPosted: Thu Jul 05, 2012 12:52 pm 
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I think it's usually going to come down to undefeated and/or 1-loss teams. And it's going to matter more who you lost to rather than who you beat. If you're a 1-loss team and you lost to an undefeated team like Stanford did with Oregon in that year, that'll matter more than who their non-conference schedule was.


I think you're right here, but I also think SOS will be more important going forward. Its an easy way to tiebreak for the new human component. A percentage is a percentage. The part you stress, weighing undefeated vs. one loss gets back into subjectivity, which means human opinions get into it, which affect fan opinions and so forth. Either way its nice to be worrying about this now. Some of these past year where Auburn or OkSt sorta got hosed at #3, I can see griping about that. Finishing #5, hard to complain there comparatively.

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