The Wizard of Odds posted some thoughts yesterday about cupcake scheduling, pointing to this remarkable post on the subject of non-conference scheduling over at the blog The National Championship Issue.
What I really like about the TNCI post is that it’s focused not on how a school’s non-conference schedule turned out when played, but on what the school’s intent was when it arranged the schedule in the first place. In analyzing the issue, TNCI was governed by four rules of thumb.
- So a team that is willing to play on the road is accepting a more difficult challenge than those who stay at home.
- So overall, teams that schedule BCS teams as opposed to non-BCS or I-AA teams are accepting a more difficult challenge than those who don’t.
- Teams looking for a challenge aren’t afraid to schedule teams with a high 5-year average or high win total.
- a team with a top 10 finish in the last five years is going to be more challenging that one that doesn’t, while a team with zero votes in the last five years isn’t going to be as challenging as one who has earned votes.
He’s got numbers to back up all of those propositions.
The Wiz does a good job of summarizing all of this (although I could do without the gratuitous “Georgia doesn’t travel” shot) – and the fact is that the SEC does try its best to keep the OOC stuff weak. Here are the specifics on Georgia’s and Florida’s non-conference scheduling as examples. Keep in mind that these two are pretty much head of the class in the SEC.
The real badges of honor come at the post’s end: the ten weakest OOC schedules of the BCS era. The SEC has six schools on that list of ten, including the most infamous because of its context, the 2004 Auburn Tigers.
It’s an exhaustive, fascinating job. Take some time to wade through it.