Georgia Should Be Banned From The National Title Game

Just kidding Bulldogs fans.  Don’t go postal on me now.

It was just the first thought that came to my mind when I read a couple quotes from Georgia associate athletic director Arthur Johnson regarding scheduling.

“Strength of schedule is overrated”, said Johnson in the story by ESPN’s Ivan Maisel.   He also added that “We want to play as many home games as possible.”

I’m just not sure how strength of schedule is overrated.  There are definitely situations where, through no fault of its own, a team doesn’t play a great schedule.  Maybe its conference is down one year.  Maybe the team it scheduled 10 years ago is going through a down cycle.  Maybe another team backed out of a series.  But deliberately playing a weak schedule designed to manufacture wins and then crowing that SOS is overrated doesn’t sit well with me.

I understand the pressure of maintaining athletic department budgets and Maisel does a great job of illustrating the difficulties of scheduling.  And Georgia, which until recently hadn’t left the South for a game since 1965, is starting to do a good job scheduling quality out-of-conference home-and-home series (ASU, Oklahoma State, Colorado and Oregon as examples). 

But what this story really hammered home to me was the importance of scheduling reform in college football.  I’m not sure how the finances can be worked out, but to me the primary knock against a playoff is the lack of uniformity among conferences and the process that allows a disparate number of home games to be scheduled.  How many times do people complain now over how such-and-such league has a conference title game, while another one does not?  How many times do we hear about Team X playing creampuffs and still getting into the title game?  How many times do we hear about a team breezing through a schedule filled with eight home games?

Unless these issues are resolved, then the gripes about them will just be transferred over to any playoff system that is created.    Any eight team playoff scheme, for example, will most likely include some teams that will have rigged the scheduling to qualify for said playoff, while another team that played a demonstrably tougher schedule and more road games will one day be left out to dry.  Then what will we do?

The best solution to me (that is, if I had a magic wand) would be to take the 120 teams in college football and have 12 10-team conferences.  No team would be allowed to play more than six home games.  That way there would be a level playing field and there would be no scheduling distortions to take into account when it came to comparing the quality of teams.  It would give the polls, or whatever concoction was in play, a sounder footing.

It just seems to me that any discussion of playoffs without dealing with scheduling isn’t a serious one.

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10 Responses to Georgia Should Be Banned From The National Title Game

  1. Ed Newman June 9, 2009 at 8:09 pm #

    Even a playoff wouldn’t be perfect because of scheduling and relative year-to-year conference strength but it would be BETTER than the current system. In an eight team playoff the “scheduling pretender” would have to win 3 games to win the championship and if they could run that gauntlet than I would have few if any qualms about an extra game at home during the season. And the playoff participants would likely be mostly conference champions so I’d have even less reason to complain that some team with a tough schedule got left out.

  2. slippy June 10, 2009 at 12:38 pm #

    Although I would love your 12 conference program, it’s obviously never going to happen. At the VERY LEAST what should happen is every BCS team needs to play one BCS OOC game every year in order to qualify for a BCS bowl, and FBS teams should not be allowed to schedule FCS teams. That still leaves many questions, and many home games vs Sun Belt and MAC teams, but I think it would relieve a lot and answer a lot. Instead of Florida – Charleston Southern and Michigan – Delaware St we see a Florida-Michigan matchup. This year it may be a blowout, but next year when Florida graduates a ton and Michigan still rises it swings the other direction. Gives both teams and outsiders a better few on how the teams stack up nationally, instead of just how they stack up against their conference, which can be argued to no end which is the best.

    Although, if there were at least 12 OOC BCS games for one conference, it would do wonders to empirically prove the conference power rankings.

  3. AERose June 10, 2009 at 5:19 pm #

    Mack Brown and Jeff Tedford circa 2004 would probably both disagree about strength of schedule being overrated.

  4. JWR June 10, 2009 at 8:21 pm #

    The simplest solution would be a small tweak to the BCS requirements.

    In order to qualify as an at-large team, you must play at least half of your non-conference schedule against major college opponents.

    For the six major conferences, that means ten “real” games. For a “BCS buster”, that means two true tests. Independents, i.e. Notre Dame, would need ten.

    Teams would be free to load up on cupcakes if they so desire, but would have to win their conference and the automatic bid.

    The second solution lies in the hands of the networks. If I were giving a gazillion dollars to a conference for the right to televise their games, I would require a minimum number of “good” non-conference games.

    Personally, I would require 20 of 48 be marketable games.

  5. The Realist June 11, 2009 at 8:04 am #

    1) Johnson’s commments were more a stab at his SEC brethren than anything. AD Damon Evans has made a point to schedule nationally, and I highly doubt that the Assistant AD would blatantly be insubordinate by contradicting what his boss has said. I believe this has more to do with Florida and Ole Miss getting a pass on their weak ass schedules while Georgia has finally shown a pair of balls and scheduled teams with a pulse.

    2) Georgia cannot play more than 7 home games. When the Georgia Tech game is at home, they only get three SEC home games… and the reciprocal is also true. So, they can only have 7 home games as a maximum. Whether that is kosher or not is debatable, but I totally agree that 8 home games is an abomination. I have no problem with 7 home games, because that generally means there is one non-conference road game… or at least a meaningful neutral site game or additional conference road game.

    3) Scheduling reform is absolutely necessary. Capping home games at 7 and capping D1-AA opponents at 1 per year is the bare minimum. I would prefer capping D1-AA opponents at two every three years, but then I’m getting into unicorns and leprechauns territory.

  6. Anonymous June 16, 2009 at 11:08 am #

    Strength of Schedule and OOC Strength of Schedule are two different things. I hate to see Florida playing cupcakes, but in their three championship seasons they had the #1, #1, and #2 Schedules in the country. Yes they played teams like Southwestern Louisiana, Western Carolina, and The Citadel, but if their schedule is already the toughest in the country, why should they need to go and make it tougher?

    I do think that in general we should be limiting the number of DIAA teams that are on schedules. I would like the number to be zero, but I do understand that scheduling issues come up and sometimes there is a good reason for scheduling the cupcake. (Florida scheduled The Citadel to honor Mr. Two-Bits who isn’t actually a former UF student, but a graduate of The Citadel)

    I would like to see eight conferences with twelve teams each. Divisional play with conference championship, followed by eight team playoff (you really get a sixteen team playoff if you count the conference championships as the first round). The worst team in each conference gets sent down to DIAA and the eight best DIAA teams get to move up and take their places. (people will actually watch the DIAA playoffs now)

  7. Daniel B July 16, 2009 at 7:23 pm #

    I think an 8 team playoff system would be great with the conference champion from the SEC, Pac-10, Big 12, and Big 10 receiving a guaranteed bid while the four other teams with the best rankings will be accepted. That way, there will be no woes about weak conferences (stop hating on the West Coast, USC could have beaten anyone last year at the end of the season)and it will give a fair opportunity for Non-BCS teams to qualify for the championship game because with the current system now their is no way BYU or Utah, or any of those teams will make the championship bowl game.

  8. rational thinker July 20, 2009 at 5:48 am #

    From each according to his ability to each according to his needs? Karl Marx would love this column. It implies all conference schedules are created equally. They are not.

    If there was a 16-team playoff that rewarded a 9-3 team that played a challenging non conference schedule schools would respond to that opportunity quickly or suffer the consequences as we’ve seen in the NCAA Basketball Tournament.

    This is a bass-ackwards proposal. Solve the championship structure and the scheduling will take care of itself. Create new scheduling rules first and all you have is clear punishment for the teams in the strongest conferences and undeserved benefits for schools in the Big Least and the Almost Competitive Conference.


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