By Brendan Loy
The biggest reason to either scrap or overhaul the BCS is to prevent the nearly annual ritual (only exceptions in the last decade: 2002 and 2005) of some team having a very legitimate claim that it should have had a title shot. But the second-biggest reason is to stop incentivizing scheduling fiascos like this.
ESPN has ranked the “toughest” non-conference schedules in the SEC, and #1 and #2 (LSU and Georgia) are respectable, each featuring one elite opponent (Oregon, Boise), one respectable BCS foe (West Virginia, Georgia Tech), one terrible I-A team (Western Kentucky, New Mexico State) and one I-AA team (Northwestern State, Coastal Carolina). They also feature one road game and one neutral game apiece (although Boise-Georgia in Atlanta is stretching the definition of “neutral,” but Boise’s really good, so I’ll give the Bulldogs a pass on that). These are not world-beating schedules, given that they are 50% throwaway games, but at least they’re respectable.
But look at the schedule that’s ranked #3 on the list: the third-toughest non-conference schedule in the SEC:
Arkansas: Sept. 3 – Missouri State; Sept. 10 – New Mexico in Little Rock; Sept. 17 – Troy; Oct. 1 – Texas A&M in Arlington, Texas
Seriously? Seriously?!? And this isn’t just a problem of poor ranking by ESPN. The schedules really do get worse from there.
Look, I know the SEC is the best football conference in the country. I know it’s won 836 consecutive national championships, or something like that. I know it’s really hard to get through the SEC schedule undefeated. (It’s also really hard to get through the Pac-10 schedule undefeated — even harder now that it’s the Pac-12 — and the same goes for at least the Big 12 and Big Ten. But I digress.)
But come on. The league’s third-toughest schedule is Missouri State, Troy, New Mexico (all at home) and Texas A&M (neutral)?!? That’s absolutely pathetic. I realize A&M is supposed to be pretty good in 2011-12, but give me a break. Oh, and if you’re wondering who’s #4:
Ole Miss: Sept. 3 – Brigham Young; Sept. 10 – Southern Illinois; Oct. 1 – at Fresno State; Nov. 12 – Louisiana Tech
How are we supposed to have any idea how good the SEC actually is — other than simply resting on their laurels from prior years, which is exactly what these teams are (quite rationally) doing — if virtually NOBODY in the league plays ANYBODY of any significance?
As much as I enjoy making fun of the SEC for this, it’s a huge structural problem, because they’re acting on perfectly rational incentives in doing this. This has got to be fixed.