Monday, December 08, 2008

Catch 22

I have been struggling for months to come up with a concise way to make this point. Therefore, thank you to Adam Maya of the Orange County Register:

4. They beat who?
Alabama played Western Kentucky, Tulane and Arkansas State. Florida played Citadel (in November!). Oklahoma played Chattanooga. Texas played Florida Atlantic, UTEP and Rice. It almost doesn’t seem fair that USC played Ohio State, Notre Dame and Virginia, two of which are going to a bowl. There is a catch 22 here regarding the Pac-10: The conference is down because of unimpressive non-conference résumés. Partly why they are unimpressive is because they lost to both good and decent teams.

The SEC and Big 12 are loaded with victories against irrelevant non-conference schools, which inflate their record and make their conference schedules look much tougher, which inflates their rankings. This is obvious to everyone, right?

Unfortunately, this does not appear to be obvious to everyone because I recall reading this sentiment only once previously in print media this season. This scheduling philosophy runs from top to bottom in most BCS conferences with few exceptions. Most SEC and Big 12 teams schedule their way to bowl games by waltzing through four ridiculous non-conferences games, leaving them in position to qualify for a bowl game with a 2-6 conference record.

If the Pac-10 scheduled like the Big 12 and the SEC, the Pac-10 would show much better in the top 25 polls. Nor would producing seven or eight bowl teams be a problem, as it was this year. The problem is compounded by the fact that every Pac-10 school plays nine conference games, more than any other conference in the country, a fact Maya does not even mention.