Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Why A 9th (or 10th) Game Doesn't Solve Anything

Leading up to the 2005 football season, with the recent NCAA rule allowing all teams to play 12 regular season games, the Pac 10 decided the smart move was to increase the number of conference games from 8 to 9, meaning all teams will play each other every season.

Still, they have declared a shared championship in 2 out of the subsequent three years of the round robin*.

The ACC has seen the Pac 10's experiment, and after a rather short round of consideration, decided that eight games is enough. They don't want to give up the cupcakes.

This discussion isn't anything new for the Big Ten, still I don't quite understand the argument for the Big Ten to increase conference games. The current slate of 8 means two teams are missed ever year, but so what? Yes, there are situations like 2002, where Ohio State and Iowa both went undefeated in the conference and did not play, but it was settled through out of conference record. Besides, that's one time in close to 15 years.

Bringing it a little closer to home, Penn State 'missed' Minnesota and Northwestern last year...both teams that are not much better than our crappy OOC games (Minnesota was actually much worse). I can live with the payday and uneventful home game if the alternative is uneventful league game in the Metrodome.

So what if the Big Ten did increase their conference matchups? Nothing good. The common call has been for "everyone to play everyone", meaning 10 league games. That means each team has two free weeks to work with. When you consider that Michigan, Michigan State and Purdue play Notre Dame just about every single year, along with the Iowa-Iowa State rivalry, you are left with just one week. What kind of matchup do you think these teams are going to schedule when they have just one chance for a tune up? Just one non-BCS matchup and just one series where they don't have to trade home and home? It's going to mean, without question, shitastic football in the 12th week.

Even the schools with no out of conference rivalry are not likely to schedule an exciting BCS matchup. The income from home games, even if it is against Youngstown State or Temple, is too important. I'm not saying it's right, but you are crazy if you think schools are going to agree to trade three to four cash cows a year for extra away games.

Even leaving money out of the equation, the addition of two extra in conference games for each team is going to mean a lot of extra losses disbursed throughout the league. This is going to have a rather large impact on public perception and the computer rankings that can mean the difference between playing in the BCS MNC game and sitting at home watching it.

Finally, from a fan's perspective: I don't think it makes the season more fun to watch**. I sure as hell didn't miss playing the Gophers or Cats, and even occasionally missing Michigan or Wisconsin does not make me long for a football season that consists of the exact same schedule every year with a fill-in-the-blank Game 11&12 crapfest.

Yes, Coastal Carolina is a stupid game, but without that game we wouldn't get the Nebraskas, Oregon States and Alabamas to sign on.

*Yes, you could use head to head matchups to separate the two, but keep in mind one team was given a home field advantage for that game. Besides that, it's not really that difficult to achieve a three way tie, in which case I have no idea how you would decide who gets the Rose Bowl bid.

**Yes, in a perfect world a 10 game Big Ten season, along with two evenly matched up BCS opponents would be great, but that's not what we are talking about here. The truth is this: if the number of Big Ten games increases, the rating of the non-conference games will dramatically increase on the suck-o-meter.

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