Tuesday, February 12, 2008

A Lightweight Approach to Scheduling

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.


Unknown said...

I responded to your original post here -


What's interesting about your chart is that the SEC appears to come across looking "bad" for scheduling what you are insinuating is non-mack daddy competition. Given the overall strength of the SEC conference itself, that's an unfair insinuation.

Where, exactly, is it written that every I-A MUST play the toughest, roughest games EVERY week?

Three N Out said...

Pretty interesting all in all.

What makes me curious is the WIN/LOSS record of conferences vs. 1-AA and non-bcs.

That would be pretty telling.

greg6363 said...

As Gerald Myers (Texas Tech AD)personally told me several years ago, the Red Raiders will not make a road trip if a school refuses to come to Lubbock in return. The Texas Tech Red Raiders (just like any other BCS program) is a brand name and its value must be protected. Whoring out the program by taking big money payouts to play on the road is not the way to build a big-time college football program. Leave that practice to the Sun Belt, MAC and WAC. They may have done it in the past (2001 @ Ohio State) but no more.

Purdue Matt said...

And everyone in the national media crucified the Big Ten earlier this season with Ohio State playing Youngstown St and Michigan playing App State.

Anonymous said...

The BCS vs. non-BCS might be skewed a little bit because of a league's location. I think if the PAC-10 wants to schedule a team from the West out of conference, they are going to be from a non-BCS conference obviously since there isn't another BCS conference out here. You could probably make the same argument for the Big 12 as well.

Jen Moore said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Three N Out said...

I agree w/ greg6363... sorta.

Tech isn't exactly known for scheduling any giants (last BCS OOC opponent was in 2003)

Look at UConn hoing themselves to ND right now. ND refuses to do a home and home but we'll play in Foxbourough MA and NJ. UConn wanted to play them badly enough to say yes.

Pretty poor on ND to put that stipulation on a team that did better this last year and pretty sell-out of UConn to accept

greg6363 said...

Knute bryant, Tech played home-and-home series with N.C. State and Ole Miss in 2002-2003. Both Fresno State and Louisville backed out of home-and-home agreements with Tech during this decade. With the financial gains that Big XII schools have reaped in the 10+ years of the conference, there is no need for any member (even Baylor) to take payout games.

Teddy said...

"all I-A conferences and Independents schedule I-AA teams"

I take exception to that comment. Notre Dame has never scheduled a I-AA team.

Furthermore, Notre Dame's percentage of non-BCS games is 23% over the 2004-2007 time period studied.

As an independent, I think these facts are doubly impressive.

Anonymous said...

As impressive as ND's records...keep recruiting all the starts and losing most of your games. ND Sucks

Three N Out said...


I agree and I'm not trying to start anything... You're right they did play Ole Miss and NCS 5 years ago. But the only tough game they've scheduled since then was TCU, which they lost.

I'm a raider proponent here so I'm not knocking them... but they usually can sleep through September. Big XII teams don't need the money though, that's true.

greg6363 said...

Thanks, knute_bryant. I know you weren't being contentious. Yes, the home-and-home arrangements with TCU and SMU are beneficial for Tech when it comes to tapping their sizable alumni base in the DFW (Metroplex) area. I'd like to see similar home-and-home arrangements with other BCS programs but if they are not willing to make a trip to Lubbock, then people shouldn't complain about their strength of schedule. The Big XII games take care of that issue.

Anonymous said...

Why so much complaining? People don't make such a big fuss about basketball teams doing the same thing.

owenandbenjamin said...

I believe there are only 4 or 5 1-A teams that have never played a 1-AA team and I thought they included Notre Dame, Michigan, and USC. Is that true?

Bob Knight's Eyebrows said...

the facts of the article linked by the wiz may be true - that Tech turned LSU down - but it does NOT detail why. good journalistic integrity should include all of the "W" questions - in this case "Why."

-Was the Eastern Washington game ALREADY scheduled as some folks inside the TTU AD's office are reporting?
- Was there no home-and-home arrangement?

I'm particularly disgusted with the Wiz himself in this case because he has not done his homework and continues to make Tech out to be the bad guy...

Sorry, man - you're better than that.

Unknown said...

cmon tornados28,

where have you been living for the past 8 months??

Appalachian St went to MICHIGAN and beat the piss out of them. App St is a 1-AA team.

Anonymous said...

Why would you include bowls in this comparison? A team is not going to play a I-AA team in a bowl, and so that just affects your totals. Here's a comparison of regular season non-conference schedules by conference. It's sorted by percent of non-IA teams played. I used 2004-2007, but you can use any range you want:

Comparison 2004-2007

Anonymous said...

Current I-A teams that have not played a I-AA teams:

Notre Dame
Michigan State

Of course I-AA was formed in 1978. If you go back prior to I-AA forming all have played a lower division team at some point or another, although some haven't since the war.

Anonymous said...

To the Anonymous poster who sent the link to comparisons of nonconference schedules, I'd like to chat (good stuff!). Send an email to dawizofodds (at) aol.com.

The Wiz