In the wake of Alabama lobbying the SEC to do something about the conference schedule in light of the number of the teams the Tide faces this season coming off bye weeks, Year2 does something that strikes me as being quite sensible: he takes a look at how much of an effect bye weeks have had in the SEC in contributing to wins and losses.
The answer is not much, or at least not as much as most people expect.
… In three of the four situations I looked at, coming off of a bye week was a hindrance if it had an effect at all. In the case of underdogs, coming off of a bye week might help if it does anything at all. While for the most part bye weeks make little difference, the fact that Alabama is projected to be really good actually puts them into the one situation where opponents off of bye weeks are more dangerous than usual.
Now he explores the subject in the context of ‘Bama’s scheduling issue this season, but I found it interesting that the one area where he perceives a statistical advantage from the bye week, that of the underdog having enjoyed the off week, is impacted by the Zooker’s two wins over Georgia in ’02 and ’03. Obviously, reasonable minds can differ on how much of an impact the bye week had on those games (can you attribute DJ’s brain fart on the pick six, or Foster’s body boogie to the off week?), but if you attribute those two losses more to the general mojo of the series than to the schedule, there really isn’t anything statistically significant to this category either.
Also, it might be worth exploring the timing of the bye week to see if there are parts of the season when it proves more beneficial than others.
All of this is not to say that the SEC needs to get its act together about this. Year2’s final conclusion is compelling stuff simply from the perspective of general fairness.