Marshall’s athletic director gets all passive-aggressive on the selection committee.
“I didn’t think it was going to become that way, but then you see these rankings every week with three-loss teams making it,” Hamrick said. “It’s very confusing if you’re a [Group of Five] school. We don’t know how we fit in and that’s why I wish there was at least some transparency. Hey, if we’re No. 50, just tell me we’re 50. I don’t care. But the average fan’s take right now is [the committee is] more worried about ranking the Power Five and then they’ll just deal with us later, which was not what my understanding was of when this was all put together.”
Sounds like old whine in new bottles. Boise State’s AD and president used to make the same slam against the BCS.
Here’s the problem:
Entering Saturday, Marshall led the country in margin of victory (30.8 points per game) and ranked fifth in points allowed (16.3). The problem is Marshall’s schedule. To be blunt, it’s incredibly weak.
The Thundering Herd ranks 141st in the country in Sagarin’s strength of schedule, trailing even 13 FCS teams. Based on Sagarin’s overall ranking of teams, the best opponent Marshall has faced is No. 85 Rice.
Conference USA isn’t the Conference USA it used to be. Conference realignment changed that. Decent programs such as Central Florida and East Carolina are now in the American. Old Sun Belt teams are now in Conference USA.
Marshall was scheduled to play Louisville this season, but the Cardinal had to push it back to 2016 in order to play Notre Dame as a new ACC member. Marshall scheduled Miami (Ohio) back when Miami had a 10-win season, not the 2-21 Miami of the past two seasons.
“They say strength of schedule hurts us,” Hamrick said. “How do you know from year to year what team’s going to be good, what team’s going to be bad? Virginia Tech, North Carolina — they were projected to do well and they’re having average seasons. How do you know four or five years out?”
That’s life as a mid-major. If you’re gonna have big goals, you need to suck it up and play some tough schools on the road. Even four or five years out, it’s not that hard to find a few that would improve strength of schedule. But that costs money, too.
Hamrick acknowledges Marshall could “possibly” help itself by scheduling two-for-one games to get higher-profile opponents. But he wants home-and-home games for a guaranteed paycheck. Marshall has future home-and-home series scheduled against Pittsburgh, North Carolina State, Purdue and Louisville.
Of course, it doesn’t cost anything to blame the media.
“It’s just unfortunate for Marshall that everything we’ve done and how we’ve bounced back from the 1970 tragedy [that killed most of Marshall’s football team] that all of a sudden we’re now being called a Group of Five,” Hamrick said. “I’m going to blame the media for that — Power Five and Group of Five. That’s like me telling my children two of them are special, two of them aren’t special.”
Bonus points for playing the tragedy card there. Maybe one day you can use that to guilt trip the big boys into expanding the playoffs to sixteen.