Listening to John Kincaide on his afternoon radio show with Buck Belue, I heard him say in no uncertain terms that bye weeks early in a football season have very little impact on a team’s chances to win, but do prove significant in weeks eight, nine and ten.
On one level, I can see one big reason why that might be: injuries. Teams are likely to be more banged up in the middle of the season than at the beginning, so the extra time is no doubt useful for recharging the troops’ batteries.
But I would think that in most cases extra preparation is valuable, no matter when during the year it comes. Here’s a quote that USC offensive coordinator gave ESPN.com’s Ivan Maisel along those lines:
“We love having the week off,” USC offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian said via e-mail. “[It's] great to re-evaluate our young players and also it’s a great opportunity to get an extra week of preparation on Ohio State. Our track record has been pretty good when we get extended preparation time.”
Mark Richt seems to give a similar indication with his somewhat surprising admission that he wouldn’t mind seeing Georgia play the occasional (gasp!) Thursday night game.
Head coach Mark Richt noted that Central Michigan and South Carolina both have added advantages since they both play Thursday night games the week before playing Georgia.
“It’s more time to prepare than we have to prepare for them,” Richt said. “I don’t like it. I think it’s good for the. I’m not mad them, I think they’re smart. I think there’s an advantage to that, no doubt.”
On the other hand, I wonder how much the psychology of the situation enters into the equation. Southern Cal goes into its bye week with lots of momentum from its road win at Virginia and its bump in the polls. But how would they feel about the time off if the Trojans had been upset in the opener?
Look at these two quotes from UT’s John Chavis and Phil Fulmer about UT’s bye week after its loss to UCLA.
If Tennessee defensive coordinator John Chavis had has his choice, he’d forgo Tennessee’s bye week. For him, a return to action would be the best remedy following Tennessee’s upset loss to UCLA on Monday night.
“I’d rather be playing,” said Chavis, who along with offensive coordinator Dave Clawson addressed the media for the first time since Monday’s game. “That’s what you do: You play. You get thrown off the horse, you get back on it.”
Head coach Phillip Fulmer welcomed the extra time to analyze game video.
“I think this is probably a good time for us,” Fulmer said. “We (can) stay mad a couple of days. … We (don’t) have to turn our picture right to UAB.”
Who’s right? I don’t know. But I bet that’s a question they’ll be asking themselves in Columbia this morning.