Who Needs Cupcakes? College Football Needs More In-Conference Play

Corey McSweeneyAnalyst ISeptember 15, 2008

Every year.  Every year we get the same question in college football: Are cupcakes good for the game?

We know there's one side that thinks they're boring and meaningless and the sign of a team that is scared to play someone tough (Oklahoma), but what about Ohio State?

The Buckeyes just got throttled by a big-time team.  No one doubts they take a challenge full steam ahead, but can you say they're better off now than if they played Murray State?  This guy says no.

So where's the middle ground?

I think I might have found it.  While watching your favorite team play the likes of North Texas, Coppin State, and Centenary back-to-back-to-back sounds a whole lot better than it must look (not), just take a peek at this guy—the Michigan fan.

Let's look at the Oregon game from last year.  Even with the horrible first game against App State (I still can't get around to typing the whole name), this was a team that was supposed to be pretty good.  While they still finished 9-4 with a bowl win over Florida, they could've been better if they had a little easier schedule.

No matter how weak your conference is, like the ACC, conference games will still be tough because of the rivalries that grow over the years.  No matter how much worse Ohio State or Michigan is compared to their rival, or how much better they are than the other, both teams will show up for that game.  They circle that game every year.

Same with Auburn-Alabama, or even West Virginia-Pitt or Cal-Stanford.  There's history with those games.

Tough conference games are a given—and you can't control who you play in the conference.  Why voluntarily schedule tough games when you know you will already have a handful of them?

If the ultimate goal is to win games, why not schedule easy games when you're picking your opponents?  Give me one good reason.

It'll toughen them up?  Give them good experience?  You really think that's going to do Ohio State good when they're 10-2 or 11-1 at the end of this season, staring at a BCS game instead of the national championship game?  That's a huge difference.

One game they picked.  It's a different story if they lose to Illinois or Wisconsin, but a game they chose to play?  At least pick a crappy or average Pac-10 team, not the No. 1 team in the land.  You're just setting yourself up for disaster and a wasted season.

Now, I am not against the rivalry games we see that are non-conference: Notre Dame-Michigan, Notre Dame-USC, Florida-Miami, and the numerous others.  There's tradition there—that's fine.

But signing a two-game deal against Texas or Georgia just to make a quick buck?  You know those football departments already rake in the cash.  Don't set yourself up for failure.

Here's my solution, courtesy of Colin Cowherd: Why not play every team in your conference, and just one or two non-conference games?  I would much rather see Michigan play Purdue every year than Miami of Ohio.  There's no reason to substitute a conference matchup for a non-conference one.

You can't eliminate non-conference games altogether because you have to remember that a few teams are not members of a conference—the likes of Notre Dame, Army, Navy, and Western Kentucky (Really, Western Kentucky?  Yup, I looked it up).

You can still get rid of the real bad games and give me more conference grudge matches.  That's what college football is built on: the regional conference matchups.  Give me more of that.