Our weekend post about Louisiana State and Texas Tech playing I-AA opponents to open the 2008 season rather than each other drew considerable interest. Texas Tech — for the record — reportedly wanted nothing to do with the defending national champions and sought a game against Eastern Washington instead. LSU, which just jacked up ticket prices, then scheduled Appalachian State. Bad news all around for a sport whose power brokers continue to sit around and watch the warts grow. Just look at the sharp downturn bowl viewership this past season.
Curiosity finally got the best of us. Although all I-A conferences and Independents schedule I-AA teams, what is the league-by-league breakdown? We couldn't hit the send button fast enough on an email to Marty at cfbstats.com, the ultimate site for college football stats junkies. As usual, he came through, and each of the charts displayed on this post cover data from the 2004-2007 seasons.
The chart at the top is a percentage breakdown of games played by I-A conferences vs. I-AA opponents. As you can see, the Western Athletic Conference is the king of the hill when it comes to playing I-AA teams. As always, click a chart for an expanded view.
Marty also provided us with a breakdown of the percentage of games played by teams from Bowl Championship Series conferences against non-BCS teams. In other words, a UCLA (Pacific 10, BCS) playing a Brigham Young (Mountain West, non-BCS). Teams from the Big 12 have played a higher percentage of games against teams from non-BCS leagues.
For the record, Notre Dame has been counted as a BCS team in determining all of the percentages.
After looking over this data, it's clear the Big 12, whose teams have played 31 of 199 games against I-AA teams, has some work to do. And of thoses 199 games, 136 have come against non-BCS opponents.
Runner-up among college football's elite is the SEC, which played 198 nonconference games in the four-year period, 30 against I-AA and 124 against non-BCS.
Other BCS breakdowns:
Pacific 10: 146 nonconference, 14 vs. I-AA, 83 vs. non-BCS.
Big Ten: 186 nonconference, 20 vs. I-AA, 104 vs. non-BCS.
Big East: 166 nonconference, 24 vs. I-AA, 89 vs. non-BCS.
Atlantic Coast: 196 nonconference, 25 vs. I-AA, 103 vs. non-BCS.
Totals for non-BCS leagues:
Western Athletic: 155 nonconference, 25 vs. I-AA.
Conference USA: 187 nonconference, 25 vs. I-AA.
Sun Belt: 158 nonconference, 20 vs. I-AA.
Mid-American: 198 nonconference, 25 vs. I-AA.
Mountain West: 148 nonconference, 16 vs. I-AA.
Independent: 148 nonconference, 12 vs. I-AA.