They are the only remaining FBS teams to have never scheduled an FCS team. And they have done so with pride.
It is mentioned in the schools' media guides. It's talked about among their fans in an almost reverent tone.
It needs to stop.
With the rollout of the College Football Playoff starting in 2014, USC, UCLA and Notre Dame need to swallow their pride and schedule an FCS team. If they don't, a Fresno State will beat one of the holdouts and keep it out of the national semifinals.
In a strange way, losing to a Fresno State could actually be more damaging to a team's playoff hopes than losing to an FCS school. Why? Simply because a loss to a legitimate FBS school like Fresno State could be viewed as something more than an upset. Maybe Fresno State really is better.
But losing to an FCS school? Meh, it was a fluke. The team came out flat and was looking ahead.
So why are the three holdouts clinging to a system that they think will reward them for an FCS-less schedule?
Prior to the 2011 season, the then-Pac-10 had no conference championship game. It made sense to bolster a team's strength of schedule by playing all FBS teams. But one only has to look at the Big 12 to see that a conference without a championship game is still scheduling FCSteams.
And nobody cares.
Seven consecutive BCS Championships have been won by Southeastern Conference teams. Almost every one of those teams also had an FCS team on its schedule the year it won the BCS—LSU's 2007 schedule was the exception.
Has any pollster or pundit questioned whether an SEC team deserved a BCS title game berth because it had played Chattanooga, Western Carolina or The Citadel?
And aren't the pollsters the entity that the three holdouts are trying to impress?
Maybe they ought to ask themselves if beating Hawaii 40-10, Rice 49-24 or Navy 50-10 is that much more impressive than beating Western Carolina 40-0, Towson 38-22 or Georgia Southern 45-14.
It's not. The scores are the same. Big whoop.
If schools are thumping their chests over whipping a lowly FBS team rather than a lowly FCS team, well, then...go for it.
Come December 2014, the selection committee will be choosing four teams to compete in its first College Football Playoff.
It may have to compare an SEC team's 13-0 record—which may include a 50-0 spanking of a directional FCS school—with a Pac-12 team's 12-1 record, which may include a loss to Fresno State.
Who's going to be thumping their chests when the decision is made?
And who's going to be left with nothing but pride?