On College Football Scheduling Trends

I started tracking out-of-conferences games of BCS conference teams five years ago when the NCAA expanded the regular season to 12 games. The statistics show the following:

  • Number of games against BCS conference teams is relatively constant.
  • Number of games played against nonD1 teams is increasing.
  • Number of games played against D1 teams is decreasing.

The table below displays cumulative statistics, while the graph below illustrates percent games against nonD1 teams yearly by conferences. Note: In 2007, the Big 12 value is the same as the SEC (thus hidden).

On 2010 College Football OOC

Five years ago the college football regular season expanded to 12 games. Since then, I have monitored the out-of-conference games played by the BCS conference teams.

Some points about the study

  • Only out-of-conference (OOC) games are counted
  • It has nothing to do with determining “the better” conference nor designed to favor one conference over another
  • I classify teams as Division 1 (D1) and nonD1
  • D1 teams are subdivided into BCS and nonBSC
  • Quality of teams is not a factor; thus playing Indiana counts the same as playing Ohio State; thus equally count as a Big 10 opponent
  • The 2010 schedule has 259 OOC games

The Basic Facts
Fact 1: Of the 259 OOC games, better than one-fifth (22.4%) are against nonD1 opponents and slightly more than one-third (33.4%) are against BCS teams

Fact 2: 56 of 66 (84.8%) play at least one game against a nonD1 opponent, including two playing two games (Virginia and Arizona State).

Fact 3: 10 of 66 (15.2%) play a full D1 OOC: Cheers to Colorado, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Oregon State, Texas, UCLA, USC, Washington, and Vanderbilt (even though schedule quality is a different question)

Fact 4: Using the 2010 averages (orange) as a baseline, Big 12 clearly has the highest rating of D1 games and the ACC the lowest; the other conferences cluster around the average.

Fact 5: Six teams fail to play any BCS Conferences opponents in their OOC. Shame to Baylor, Indiana, Mississippi, Mississippi State, Texas Tech, and Va. Tech.

Below are the numbers for yourself. What about the five-year trends? Well, that’s tomorrow’s post. Stay tuned.

On Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 46

On Priorities of Politicians
The more I observe our political system at work, the more I realize what it’s all about. Although in the last presidential campaign John McCain used Country First, reality is that Country is way down the list with self, party, special interests, and contributors getting the highest priority. Moreover, people wonder what’s wrong in Washington and politicians wonder why many voters become disenchanted.

On Bank Loans
Amidst the growing list of banks repaying their government loans, where are the calls of Fascism? Oh, they are the ones crying wolf in another topic.

On a Recent 60 Minutes
The Dec 20th edition of 60 Minutes very interesting. The first segment was about the economic impact on Wilmington, Ohio due to the closing of a major employer. Since Wilmington less than an hour away and I know affected people, it found it humbling.

The second segment was about the Orthodox Church, whose main office is in Turkey with its Muslim population in the high 90%. The segment showed Turkey’s ancient ties to Christianity. Amazing – especially the information about Capadocia! To see the segment, forward the video to around the 15-minute mark. Otherwise, see images of Capadocia here.

On the Big Can’t Count
The 11-team Big 10 Conference is considering expansion. Interestingly, there’s a report out of Chicago stating the conference will examine expansion to 12, 14, or even 16. The demise of Big East football is getting closer.

On Bias in College Voting
Everyone knows that voters don’t show bias or favoritism in college polls and awards. Point in case. In the recent AP Coach of the Year balloting, the top 3 vote getters were Gary Patterson (TCU – 21 votes), Brian Kelly (Cincinnati – 19 votes), and Nick Sabin (Alabama – 14 votes).

Let me get this straight. Nick Sabin received 14 votes for leading a pre-season top-5 team to an undefeated season over Patterson, whose team pre-season ranking around 17; and Kelly, whose team was unranked.

Verdict – Guilty and case closed without appeal.

On a New Header Cometh
Following the swap I did last January, sometime on January 1st I plan to reveal a new header. Please stop by and give me your thoughts.

On College Football Problems

No doubt about it, college football is a great game. Yet, whether scheduling of out-of-conference games (OOC), bias in the polls, or no legitimate national champion, the game has its share of issues. Let us keep in mind that dollars are at the center of many debates. With this post, I’m taking an honest stand that will be unpopular with many fans – then again, that’s what I expect.

Let’s start is the ACC, Big 12, and SEC. These are the 12-team BCS conferences whose fans will be excited this weekend with their conference championship game. Wait a minute – why is there a conference championship game? Sure some fans will say because they have 2 divisions. I say what a bunch of crap! This extra game is all about revenue: revenue for the conference, revenue for the host city, revenue for the network, and possibly revenue for the participating schools. Why not play everyone and only 1 OOC game? Why have a conference if all teams don’t play each other? Oh, that’s right – revenue!

So how about the Big Can’t Count, most commonly known as the Big 10? Here’s a group of power elitists who not only forego a conference championship game by passing on a 12th team, each team doesn’t play 2 conference teams. Why not? Oh, that’s right. Playing more conference games would mean less home games – yep, less revenue.

Let us not forget about the BCS ugly stepsister, also known as the Big East. Given a 12-game schedule and an 8-team league, at least these schools play everyone in a season, but 5 OOC games is too many. Sure it is easy to say “expand by 2 teams” (and I wish they would), but pickings are slim (Temple, Army, and Navy) unless there was a major conference reshuffling – but that won’t happen because a conference would lose it’s title game.

So that leaves the PAC-10 – a 10-team conference without a conference title game, but where all teams face each other while playing 3 OOC games. (Interestingly, as a conference, they play the best OOC schedule). In my opinion, at least they serve as a model of what should be.

After next weekend’s games, the committees will announce pairings for all the bowls – and I can guarantee these things:

  • Elitist fans will demean the existence of the nonBCS schools, and the Big East representative.
  • Many fans will complain about the BCS format and call for a playoff.
  • Fans will forget that the conference title game is one of the extra games working against a playoff.

I can also guarantee that money is the root of the entire situation – including the money made by the conference title game. Bowl committees pick (or don’t pick) teams based on a business decision. The BCS lock-in system exists as a business decision. Meanwhile, as the upper division of college football continues to be the only major sport enterprise without a true champion, my hope of a playoff format continues to be nowhere in sight.

On College Athletes Doing Good

I’ve been using weekends for trivia question, but this story is too good to pass and a story that needs to be told. I like stories about the good things people do as they are too often underpublicized. Of all the college football players, only a small fraction will attend an NFL camp, let alone make a team, but in this case – everyone is a big-time professional.

The article below appeared in the Cincinnati Enquirer on Thursday, Sept. 3.  Unfortunately, the paper is quick to archive articles but to me, this is one of the good stories that should be kept alive.

Bill Koch, Cincinnati Enquirer wrote this wonderful article about a positive impact by a whole college football team.

Football Players Inspired by Mitch: Bearcats have a New Teammate

At first, Mitch Stone was hesitant when he was approached with the idea of being “adopted” by the University of Cincinnati football team.
Mitch, who completed the fifth grade last year at Maddux Elementary School with straight A’s, does not like a lot of attention, according to his mother, Dee. And even though he was an ardent UC fan, he wasn’t sure this was right for him.

“I had to talk him into it,” Dee said.

That was back in July when the Bearcats became the first Division I football team in the country to adopt a child as part of the Friends of Jaclyn Foundation. Six weeks later, both Mitch and his family are grateful for the support they’ve received from UC.

Mitch was diagnosed with a brain tumor in February. He has undergone surgery to attempt to remove the tumor and has had 31 radiation treatments. Now he’s in the midst of high-dose chemotherapy and a stem cell rescue over a four-month period. He just finished round three.

It’s a lot to ask an 11-year-old to endure, even one as upbeat and optimistic as Mitch, but he hasn’t had to endure it alone. Besides his parents, Dee and Anthony, he has a twin brother, Nick, two older sisters, Piper and Paisley, and plenty of friends lending their support.

He also has an entire football team in his corner.

As part of their “adoption” of Mitch, everyone in the UC program, from the coaches on down, wears a red, white and blue bracelet with the words “Mitch’s Mission” written on it. He receives text messages and e-mails on a regular basis from the players, who chipped in $5 apiece to buy him a prepaid phone with a monthly plan so the players can call him if he’s having a bad day.

“Our guys feel like they wanted to be a Big Brother,” said UC head coach Brian Kelly.

The effect on Mitch has been energizing.

“It’s done so much for his spirits, just knowing that the Bearcats are behind him,” Dee said. “It just lifts his sprits every time he hears from them. He got a text message from (wide receiver) Mardy (Gilyard) the other day and he was so excited. It’s been wonderful. The whole experience has been wonderful.”

The idea to “adopt” Mitch originated with Ernest Jones, UC’s director of player of services. Jones had heard about the Friends of Jaclyn Foundation, which is dedicated to improving the quality of life for children diagnosed with pediatric brain tumors by matching the child with a college or high school sports team. He investigated to see if this was something the Bearcats could get involved in.

“I talked to the founder and said, ‘How can we be a part of it at the University of Cincinnati?” Jones said. “They said none of the Division I football teams were doing it. I said we’d like to do it. I went up to Children’s Hospital and I talked to some doctors and nurses and then we found Mitch.”

After Jones presented the idea to Kelly, he presented it to the players, who were overwhelmingly in favor of it.

“I was one of the first ones Coach Jones mentioned it to,” said linebacker Craig Carey. “I thought it was a great idea, just to give him a group of brothers that he can look up to, that we can help out, just lend a helping hand to him and his family. It’s a great thing that more people can be involved in.”

Both of Mitch’s parents are UC graduates and are such big fans of the football team that the entire family made the trip to the Orange Bowl at the end of last season.

Still, Dee and her family didn’t know exactly what to expect after they agreed to the “adoption.”

“We didn’t expect it to be such a big deal,” Dee said. “It’s turned out be so special. It’s meant something to everyone in our family.”

Gilyard is Mitch’s favorite player, Dee said, but he’s just one of many players who have reached out to Mitch and his family.

“Ricardo Mathews left me this wonderful prayer on my voice mail when Mitch was really sick,” Dee said. “It was just this heartfelt prayer. I still have it on my voice mail. I still listen to it.”

The players first met Mitch in July and let the Stone family know at the adoption “ceremony” that they were serious about this.

“That’s what was so neat about the whole experience,” Dee said. “As soon as the ceremony was over, these guys just surrounded us to offer their support, to say I really am here. This isn’t just for show. This is for real.”

A reaction to medicine prevented Mitch from attending any practices at Higher Ground, the Bearcats’ pre-season training site in West Harrison, Ind.

And with Mitch schedule to undergo his final round of chemotherapy on Labor Day weekend, he might not be able to attend a UC game until sometime in October.
Whenever he shows up for that first game, Mitch will provide the Bearcats with some special motivation.

“He’s given us so much strength he doesn’t even know about and we’re trying to give the same strength to him,” Carey said.

“You come out here for camp and you’re at football. People might be complaining about bangs and bruises, but he’s going through something we can’t even imagine. The strength that he’s given us, knowing that he can fight through that, it’s amazing.”

Note: Last winter I also posted this article about the good deeds of Bearcat WR Mardy Gilyard, who is also mentioned in this article.