Mmmmmm… cupcakes.

The Wiz takes the ball from the Birmingham News’ Jon Solomon and runs with it.

The addition of a 12th game in 2006 has been nothing short of a scam perpetrated on fans. While paying customers were hoping for great intersectional matchups, big-time athletic directors and coaches saw something else.

Add a cupcake opponent to the home schedule, get an easy victory, make millions for the department and keep those rollover contracts in working order. Fat City! Who cares if the spring scrimmage was more competitive than the cupcake that was added to the schedule? If a team can go 4-0 in nonconference play, a mere 2-6 mark in conference gets you to 6-6, the magic record needed to earn a postseason berth to some outpost like Shreveport.

To top it off, those fools behind the BCS formula won’t penalize you for playing a team from Division I-AA. So why not schedule two games against I-AA opponents?

That passage highlights two perverse incentives built into the system.  One, the need to schedule weak sisters is greater for marginal teams that must hit that absolute number of six wins to become bowl eligible than it is for the schools challenging for a BCS slot which have to be more careful about constructing a schedule that doesn’t weaken their resumes too much in the eyes of the voters and computers.

On the other hand, the Wiz is right when he notes that there’s no outright penalty in the BCS formula for scheduling multiple 1-AA opponents (although, again, there is that risk of being perceived as playing too weak a schedule).  But there is one for the marginal schools, which can only count one such victory towards the bowl eligibility totals.

If that sounds somewhat contradictory, that’s only because it is.

What this all really adds up to is further ammunition for the position that D-1 football shrinking itself into an 80-school alignment of power conferences makes more and more sense.  Done right, that would provide the framework to jettison these games that generally satisfy no one other than the head coaches and athletic directors who want them.

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3 Comments

Filed under College Football, The Blogosphere

3 responses to “Mmmmmm… cupcakes.

  1. Tom

    Scheduling is the ultimate balancing act, whether it’s dealing with wins, money, etc.

    For BCS schools, the main goal is to go undefeated – if you can do that, you’re guaranteed a spot in the BCS championship game. (I know, 2004 Auburn – that’s the one year in the last few decades when there was more than two undefeated BCS teams.) The easiest way to go undefeated is to play cupcakes, hence the plethora of games against non-BCS and I-AA competition.

    Strength of Schedule comes into play second, and it only helps to have strong opponents if you’ve lost a game and/or are tied in the loss column with other teams. Again, Auburn – if they’d played a non-conf slate other than the Citadel, LA-Tech, and LA-Monroe, they might have gotten into the championship game.

    A stronger opponent might boost your SoS in the event you lose a game or there are multiple undefeated teams, but a stronger opponent also has a much better chance of beating you. Coaches have to choose their poison, and they choose the cupcakes because they know they stand a better chance of winning and can always bitch about the system if they get shut out.

  2. Mike In Valdosta

    Amen, take all the supposed D-1 schools, throw ‘em in cold water and let the shrinkage begin.

  3. Macallanlover

    No different than anything else in life, fans will get what they tolerate from those who simply want to avoid risk. It seems many fans also want zero risk in those games, so we end up with an overwhelming number of crap games that even hardcore fans don’t want to attend. With only 12-14 games a year, why would anyone want to waste 25-30% of those precious Saturdays on watching a powerful team crush UTC, Western Carolina, etc. while resting the top talent on the sideline?