Since 2006, the NCAA has allowed a 12 game season for college football. This change came at the request of the various pooh-bahs and big wigs at the storied institutions and hallowed halls of academia.
A 12 game season was needed to increase revenue, offer more opportunities for out-of-conference opponents and give the teams more flexibility.
So, what have the majority of big-time teams done with that extra game? Promptly scheduled a home game against a Division 1-AA opponent.
Since they make it part of the season ticket package, and in most cases can count on rabid fan support, most of the big guns do get an extra sellout of the deal. But, they need to pay the sacrificial lambs. A cool $1 million seems to be the going rate to subject your young men to a certified ass whuppin’ by players bigger, stronger, and faster.
Additionally, these games don’t really generate any television revenue…who really wants to watch Clemson beat the tar out of Presbyterian College or other such obvious and total mismatches other than the mesmerized fan base, the players parents, or devotees of S&M (since you’ll get a little of both depending on whose side you’re on)?
So, the “we need them for the money” argument rings kind of hollow. Oh sure, they suck some extra bucks out of their fans pocket, but that’s not the real reason that we have these games.
It’s about ego.
What we have for the majority of the big time schools, including those in the BCS conferences and the Mountain West, is a glorified scrimmage. A scrimmage played at home, in the early season, in front of a full crowd, to stoke their coaches’ egos.
Coach bighead and his staff get to fine tune their offensive and defensive schemes against live opposition that is really trying…a nice workout for them and their kids. And a big ol’ feel good pill for the power school.
I say, stop the madness.
Go back to an 11 game season.
The ACC, SEC, and Big 12 all have eight conference games, plus a playoff game. That leaves three OOC games in an 11 game schedule. So, do they really need that extra match?
The Big Ten has nine conference games, as does the Pac-10, which would leave them with two OOC games in an 11 game schedule. And in the Mountain West and Big East it’s a similar situation, they would have three and four OOC games respectively.
Currently, defenders of the system claim that the big boys “need” to schedule a Division 1-AA team because their regular schedule is just so tough—the bullies they play week in and week out in the SEC, Big 12, Big Ten, and so on are just so brutal that a break is needed.
Well, fine. I agree.
So can the game against the weakling. You’ll have an extra week to practice and heal up in preparation for your gladiatorial forays against your mighty foes.
Sometimes my father would say about something “that just ain’t right.” If he were still alive, he’d mutter those words about these power teams scheduling games against lower division schools.
It just ain’t right.
Yes, a few years back there was the “Miracle in Michigan” with Appalachian State pulling off an upset of a woefully under-prepared Wolverine team. And there is the occasional 1-AA upset when a top-tier, lower-division team with enough talent to contend for the Division National Championship plays a really cruddy D-1 team. But overall, these things are mismatches.
So let’s go back to an 11 game schedule. It probably won’t eliminate the scheduling of 1-AA games, but it will certainly cut back on them.
If the schools are not going to utilize that extra game for some real competition, and think that their season and regular league opponents are just too tough on their kids anyways, then what’s the point of having an extra game?