May 30, 2014
The five power conferences, with Notre Dame tagging along, are taking over big-time college football. Of that, there is no question. Within the NCAA, they will soon have the autonomy they want. They have basically said that, if they don’t, they’ll take their TV bucks and go off on their own.
The power schools will use their money to do things for athletes others can’t afford. They’ll give them full cost of attendance scholarships. They’ll feed them better. They’ll probably, in some manner, allow them to be advised by agents. Those things are all good. They were happening before lawyers with dollar signs in their eyes started filing lawsuits.
But the feeling of some coaches and administrators that the power schools should stop playing anyone other than themselves and treat FCS schools like they are lepers is not such a great idea.
It’s college football. It’s not the NFL. Programs at the highest level don’t want to play 12 regular-season games against equals. That’s one thing. Another, and maybe more important, thing is smaller programs often make a large percentage of their budgets with just a game or two against power conference teams.
Most of those games are mismatches, but not all. The Georgia Southern players who beat Florida season will never forget the experience. Same for the North Dakota State players who beat Kansas State and the Jacksonville State players who beat Ole Miss a few years back.
When Alabama A&M visited Auburn in 2012, it wasn’t about winning or losing. It was a monumental day for Alabama A&M’s players, coaches and fans just to play at Jordan-Hare Stadium.
Programs are going to schedule lesser opponents that they expect to beat. That’s a fact. To me, a mismatch is a mismatch whether it’s against Samford or against Kansas.
What has brought about all this scheduling angst, of course, is the coming of the College Football Playoff and the selection committee that goes with it. Strength of schedule will matter more than ever before. It could all have been avoided simply using the same system that was used to rank BCS teams, but that’s over and done with.
The thing is that there is nothing that can be done to make 60-plus teams all play equal or even close to equal schedules. Just because a matchup looks attractive when it is scheduled doesn’t mean it will be attractive when it’s played. Auburn’s SEC schedule includes as many as six teams – LSU, Alabama, Texas A&M, Georgia, South Carolina and Ole Miss - that could be ranked in the preseason top 25. And that doesn’t include a Thursday night trip to Kansas State. Should it even matter that Auburn plays Samford between Georgia and Alabama?
Fans – some of them anyway – complain about lopsided games, but they will complain more if their team faces a serious test every week and fades in the games that matter down the stretch because of injuries and just plain fatigue.
Big changes are coming to college football. More than half the programs in the FBS and certainly the entire FCS will be left out. There’s no reason to slap their faces again by telling them they can’t even visit the neighborhood.
Phillip Marshall is a Senior Writer for AuburnTigers.com. Follow Marshall on Twitter: