… I acknowledged in the comments to the post that the better criticism of Georgia’s OOC scheduling is not that they never leave the South, but rather than they never play name opponents. Arkansas has played Texas and USC this decade; when is the last time that Georgia played a program on that level? Florida plays Miami and Florida State this year; when is the last time that Georgia played programs on that level (assuming, for the sake of argument, that Miami and FSU are in temporary dips right now). Tennessee has played UCLA and Notre Dame this decade. Alabama has played Oklahoma. Auburn has played USC. LSU has played Virginia Tech. Where are Georgia’s comparable opponents?
… to which I came back with
… it might be interesting to see how the weaker parts of Georgia’s schedules over the same time period compare to some of those schools you mention. If they’re similar, I’d expect that Georgia’s overall strength of schedule rankings would be lower than those schools. But what if the SOS numbers are roughly equivalent?
I decided to take a look at that. I’ve used two sets of SOS rankings (CollegeFootballPoll.com and Sagarin) from 1999 to 2007 for seven schools, several that Elkon named in his comment (LSU, Georgia, Florida, Auburn, and Arkansas) plus Michigan and Southern California as non-regional controls to make the comparison.
One caveat as you check these out. These are the rankings for the complete seasons, so they’re going to be a little biased in favor of higher ranked schools, because those schools will generally see better opponents in their bowl games. With that in mind, here’s what the SOS rankings look like.
Man, those Southern Cal numbers are something, aren’t they?
Anyway, Georgia’s SOS ranking is squarely middle of the pack. So even starting with Elkon’s premise that Georgia’s non-conference opponents over the years have lacked star power, that would seem to be balanced out for the most part with schedules that aren’t as weak at the low end as some of the other schools he cites.
Does that make his point unfair? Maybe from a raw statistical perspective it does. But I suspect it plays in to the national perception of Georgia’s program. People tend to remember the glamor games more than they do the turkeys. From that standpoint, Damon’s efforts to punch up the schedule are probably necessary to get people to look at this program in the same way as the Southern Cals and the Ohio States. Whether that’s fair or not I’ll leave for somebody else to answer.