Could New Four Team Playoff Eventually Harm Smaller Schools?
With the transition to a four team playoff in 2014 for Division I (FBS) schools, the scheduling of FCS teams by the big boys may be a thing of the past.
A glimmer of what’s to come was seen in the days after the SEC voted in April to keep the 6-1-1 conference model. It didn’t matter that the SEC and ACC both said their teams will play at least one opponent from the power five conferences beginning in 2016. Many of the sports media decried the move to keep eight game schedules.
Some opined that the SEC scheduling is too soft in comparison to other conferences – No matter that the SEC has dominated in National Championships and bowl wins for the past decade. In particular, they point to the FCS schools that appear on most SEC schedules.
What most of those folks really want to see is the SEC playing more SEC teams so that the league can further weaken it’s positioning for the top four spots in the new playoff system.
I spend a lot of time in my car listening to sports radio. Most of the time the dial is set to SiriusXM’s College Sports Nation. Everyday for two solid weeks Mark Packer and Eddie George gave the same diatribe about how terrible it was for the SEC to be playing FCS schools.
But this spring is not the first time anyone has mocked what some dub ‘cupcake scheduling.’ However, this is one writer that you will never see questioning the practice especially within the nation’s toughest conference, the SEC.
When you have to play in the toughest division (SEC West) and in the toughest conference in the nation, you need a break. Besides not many schools are ready to add the likes of an Auburn, an LSU, a Georgia, or an Alabama to their schedules.
Most of the big schools schedule those smaller schools right before one of their biggest games. For example this season Alabama will play Western Carolina the week before facing Auburn, Georgia has scheduled Charleston Southern between Auburn and Ga. Tech, and Auburn plays Samford the week before the Iron Bowl.
Contrary to what some think though, it’s not just a practice carried on by the SEC and ACC … of the 128 FBS teams only 23 will not play an FCS opponent in 2014.
Yet, that may become a thing of the past in the very near future, with the new College Football Playoff Committee looking at strength of schedule as a possible factor in choosing the final four teams for the championship playoff.
I’ve always thought that if one truly loves the game, they should be in favor of these type match-ups because it does much more than give the big boys a respite before big rivalry games.
The athletes from these schools have the opportunity to play in some big time venues and even more importantly earn a big payday for their schools. Often times the pay out for the game will fund most of the smaller schools annual budget.
Without those funds many schools may have to face closing down their programs, thereby shrinking the opportunities for student participation in intercollegiate sports. And if that happens … it will be a travesty for college athletics