Friday, December 21, 2007

Breaking Down BCS League Travel

We begin our second day of examining how many miles teams have traveled for nonconference games with a look at four Bowl Championship Series conferences. This is all part of an extensive study taken on by Richard of Map Game Day, who has agreed to share his results with us.

After releasing the initial results on Thursday, an anonymous poster suggested that we rerun the data to reflect conference alignments from 1998-2005. Richard thought this was a terrific idea and has been busy recalculating the data, which was based on current conference alignments. Without getting technical (read the end of this post for more), we're going to post the updated data on Saturday. Those numbers, along with breakdowns of the Atlantic Coast and Big East conferences, will be posted then. On Sunday, the non-BCS conferences will be posted and reviewed.

Let's jump into the four BCS conferences we have posted today. At the top is the Big Ten, which is led by Northwestern, having traveled nearly 20,000 miles in the past 10 years to nonconference games. At the bottom is Penn State, which is No. 10 overall in ranking of teams having traveled the fewest miles. Ohio State's nonleague schedule this season was a joke: Youngstown State, Akron, at Washington and Kent State. Come on Buckeyes, you can do better. Ohio State does start a home-and-home with USC in 2008.
Let's take a look at the Big 12. It's a tightly packed group, but that might be somewhat expected given that this league is located in the heart of the country and going east or west doesn't involve the mileage that would be involved in other leagues. Kansas is at the bottom and the Jayhawks got fat this season on a diet of Central Michigan, Southeastern Louisiana, Toledo and Florida International, all at home. In fact, Kansas didn't have to leave the state for a game until Oct. 20 and now has a ticket to the Orange Bowl. This is a prime example of what creative scheduling can do for a program and something we'd like to see come to an end.
Love them or hate them, USC will travel to play quality opponents. Look at that mileage. Although this season included road games at lousy Nebraska and Notre Dame, the Trojans scheduled those games believing the quality of the opposition would be better. In 2008, USC opens at Virginia and plays host to Ohio State and Notre Dame. Give USC a big thumbs up for seeking out quality nonleague opponents. Even Arizona State, which ranks at the bottom, has a 2008 home game against Georgia. Overall, the Pac-10 is the best of the BCS leagues when it comes to scheduling quality nonconference opponents home and away. Teams only get three nonconference games because of a round-robin league schedule.
Bring it on, SEC. We don't care how difficult the league schedule is. Your nonconference schedules are a joke. Two notable road tests in the past three years: In 2005, Arkansas played at USC and lost, 70-17. In 2007, Tennessee played at California and lost, 45-31. Seven of the top eight spots nationally for teams having traveled the fewest miles belong to teams from the SEC. Georgia does appear to see the error of its ways. The Bulldogs have games at Arizona State in 2008, at Oklahoma State in 2009 and at Colorado in 2010. Maybe there is hope.


SMQ said...

The mileage speaks for itself, but I would say within the last three years Vanderbilt's trip to Michigan, Mississippi State's visit to West Virginia, Ole Miss' trip to Missouri, Alabama's neutral site game with Florida State, Tennessee's visit to Notre Dame and bi-annual trips to Florida State, Clemson, Louisville and Georgia Tech by their in-state rivals count as "games of interest" outside of the conference. No other league has these inter-conference rivalry games, which greatly cuts down on out-of-conference traveling for that tough game.

Besides that, geographically, the SEC is the least spread-out conference in the country except possibly the Big Ten. Hawaii exceeds almost any one SEC team's in-conference mileage on a flight to Louisiana Tech. That's a tough one, there.

This also says nothing of the conference's non-conference home games over the last three years with Virginia Tech, Missouri, Wake Forest, Kansas State, South Florida, Oklahoma State, USC, Georgia Tech, Cal and the same in-state rivals over the same period. I'm for tougher non-conference scheduling, but this mileage thing is a canard. Look at the teams. SEC teams play about one tough/respectable non-conference game a year, just like everyone else.

Anonymous said...

Before Alabama gets too much credit for its travel, I'm betting that a hige chunk of that came from its games at Hawaii. The only reason that they took the game was to replace their bowl game (which their probation prevented them from participating in).

Boz said...

I know you cant make everyone happy, but you should at least put the top 4 bcs conferences up. The Big Eleven should not be used. They are the 6th best bcs conference. In its place shoud be the ACC.

Taylor said...

You also have to look at teams played, not just mileage traveled. In this, UGA looks terrible due to their very low mileage traveled. They are traveling to in state rival, Georgia Tech. Giving UGA a hard time for playing Tech isn't comparable to giving Hawaii credit for playing Washington.

Don'tBeScared,ComePlaytheLeftCoast said...

The milage does speak for itself. When was the last time Florida went out of the state for a non conference game. What about Ohio State??? They played 3 in state teams this year. Bonus points if you can NAME 3 other schools in the state of Ohio.

The Pac 10 on the other does not just sit at home playing the likes of the Wac and Mountain West. USC played fresno state at home 2 years ago BUT Fresno was ranked in the top 25 at the time.

USC has traveled, IN THE LAST 4 YEARS ALONE, to: #6 Auburn (w 23-0), Hawaii (w 63-17), Va Tech (w 24 - 13), BYU (w 42-10), Arkansas ( w50-14) Notre Dame (w and w 34-31 and 38-0), Nebraska (w 49-31),

NOTICE A THEME, USC has played top teams in the SEC and ACC and Big 12(and a home and home with Ohio State next year) before they even start their Pac-10 schedule.

Winning your state high school championship is not worthy of playing for a national championship. Play the best teams at all times everywhere.


Yes Cal split the home and home, but USC had a beat down of Arkansas, the year they won the SEC East, so wouldn't that there mean USC could compete in the SEC. And Nebraska did have a very good year last year (wait didnt they win the Big 12 north??) AND YET AGAIN USC RAN THE TABLE ON THEM.

So by default, USC could have played in both the SEC and Big 12 title games. Hmmmmmm.

And those 6 BCS bowls games in a row smell like roses, taste like oranges, and is much better than whatever true value menike car care bowl you get to go to this year. We'll be in Pasadena...again.

Anonymous said...

You can't please everyone, but the data is certainly revealing. Being a Notre Dame hater, I must try to get them knocked off the top.

Being an independent, every away game that Notre Dame plays is out of conference. This definitely gives them an edge simply because they have more games.

The essence of a non-conference game is to play a team with which you are not aquainted. Perhaps an equalizer for ND would be to consider the teams they play year-in and year-out (USC, Mich....etc) to be their "conference," since those teams are quite familiar. This would also bring USC back down a bit by not counting their five trips to ND.

How's that for a rational argument driven by irrational hatred?