Will schedule strength play role?
Published: Thursday, July 5, 2012 at 12:53 p.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, July 5, 2012 at 12:53 p.m.
Ever get the feeling like the football season that is fast approaching is almost like a preseason game?
I mean, once it gets here I am sure we will all be immersed in the pomp and circumstance, the rivalries and traditions and the fights in the stands instead of fights in the luxury hotel meeting rooms.
But this summer hasn't been about Athlon's predictions or the new faces in the SEC or the return of Steve Spurrier's swagger.
It has been about the future.
As it tends to do, the suits kept trying to mess it up and took forever to approve what everyone knew was coming — a four-team playoff with the bowls taking the semifinals and the final bid out with a selection committee deciding who's in and who's relegated to the window-dressing bowls.
And then they unveiled what a potential New Year's weekend could look like and college football fans started to go all Pavlov's dog. When does it get here? Can we just cancel the next two seasons and start right away?
There are still plenty of questions to be answered, such as who will be on the Star Chamber that will select the four teams and who gets how much of the money that will be generated. But here's another thing to ponder — will it affect scheduling?
Will you need to bulk up your schedules the way they have in college basketball to be a true contender? We saw how Billy Donovan did it after his team was snubbed for two straight years. The NCAA hoops selection committee has forced coaches to schedule better games or stay outside the bubble.
As we get ready for this football season we have the usual suspects on SEC schedules. Towson, Western Carolina, Jacksonville State. Savannah State, which went 1-10 a year ago, opens with Oklahoma State and FSU. Georgia Tech hosts Presbyterian. Fordham plays at Cincinnati.
In other words, while we are looking forward to so many big college football games this fall there are still a bunch of them that you wouldn't watch if they were playing in your neighbor's front yard.
The Sporting News did a survey that ranked every BCS team's non-conference schedule. You already know Florida plays FSU and three pastries … and the Gator's non-conference schedule was rated as the fifth best by the publication.
The SEC plays 48 percent of its games against non-BCS schools and 27 percent against FCS schools and isn't the worst BCS offender in either category.
The point is that everybody is playing nobodies.
But will that change?
Not quickly. You have to remember that home games aren't only important for the schools and their athletic programs but for the communities. I keep seeing places of business going belly up in our town and wonder how much worse it would be if there were only six home games instead of seven. (It likely will be the case next year when Florida plays at Miami in the second game of the season).
In the SEC, there is the feeling that the league is so strong and so highly respected that it doesn't matter who you play. Try to schedule one tough game outside the league and you'll be fine. LSU last year was a bit of an aberration, but you see the Tigers' non-conference this year (Towson, Idaho, North Texas, Washington).
So I don't think the arrival of a playoff system is going to change anything. Until it does.
If a team gets snubbed and the committee stands up and says, “They didn't play anybody,” that's when you'll see some change in scheduling. And once the athletic directors, most of whom are operating in the red, see exactly how much money is coming in it could open them up to going on the road for some non-conference games.
But I don't think it's going to affect scheduling until we get to a 16-team playoff and two losses doesn't kill you.
Until then, we will have a day like the last day of August when you can whet your appetite for college football by watching Bowling Green and Murray State invade our state to play the mighty Gators and mighty Seminoles, respectively.
Maybe they can share a bus.
Contact Pat Dooley at 352-374-5053 or at email@example.com. And follow at Twitter.com/Pat_Dooley.