From the results of the past few years, it is pretty apparent that any college football team could lose any week. The numbers of 1-AA teams knocking off 1-A teams keep rising. But we still have a lasting quandry. What to do with that pesky non conference schedule?
There is a lot of debate on this subject, and it changes the way your end of year bowl may look. For instance, Wisconsin in their non conference schedule plays a tough Fresno State team on the road, but has three total cupcakes at home in Akron, Marshall and Cal Poly. Those games really pump up the stats, but to what end? The Badgers will be penalized by pollsters and the computers in the final wash.
So the athletic directors have to make a choice.
Do you want to take the Pat Hill (Fresno State) approach and do the anyone, anyplace, anytime theme? That almost assures that you will never see the BCS games, but gains tons of respect for your program among college football fans.
Or do you do a little half and half? Illinois, for instance, this year has two cupcakes, one real game and one medium game. That medium game is the Western Michigan game - the MAC is getting stronger and those games worry everyone. Northern Illinois almost knocked off Minnesota this week. Bowling Green beat #25 ranked Pitt (suck it Wannstedt!).
To add to the challenge, college football schedules are made out a half decade in advance in a lot of instances, and most of the time a minimum of a few years in advance. The Big Ten schedule has been finalized through 2012. In 2011, Wisconsin plays UNLV, Oregon State and Northern Illinois, plus one TBA. You never know, OSU could be good by then. That is the chance you take scheduling a real conference team. In 2010 Wisconsin has Arizona State, San Dog State and UNLV plus one more TBA. Could be walkovers. Could be tough.
I pretty much favor a “medium” approach. I would like to see teams on the Illinois schedule that are halfway decent. I want two real games and two cupcakes to aid us getting into a bowl. Then again, half the teams are going to bowls anyway so what difference does that really make. Does playing in the Emerald Bowl really help your program in the long run?
But the cupcakes are all of a sudden in demand and are requiring more $$ to show up - with the NCAA adding the 12th game to everyone's schedule. Akron got $650k to show up and get destroyed by Wisconsin last week. Usually the fee is higher, closer to $800k according to this article (which is excellent, btw). I bet that figure will go up to $1m soon. There are bidding wars to bring in the cupcakes. Also, according to the article, the Badgers will only receive $375k from Fresno for visiting the Valley. I assume Fresno will receive a similar amount when they visit Madison. Alvarez also says he thinks the Big Ten teams should put a cap on what they will pay a cupcake to play at a Big Ten school. Good luck with that Barry.
Cross posted at SFU.