Oregon State in 2010 scheduled a pair of Top-5 behemoths in TCU and Boise State. The money was good, particularly from TCU. But the results, two close losses in a 5-7 season that snapped the Beavs' bowl game streak and kept them home for the first time since 2005, was not.
With the windfall coming from the new Pac-12 deal, the Beavs no longer have to go for the money in the non-conference schedule. And if they want to keep pace with the Joneses of college football, they can't continue to schedule top-flight opponents. Doing so only gives their competition a leg up.
Foresight isn't perfect in these matters, games are sometimes scheduled years in advance. Playing Nevada five years ago was a pretty good bet for a win. Playing Nevada last year, not so much. But OSU, if they want to maximize their wins in any given season, will have to schedule down. Because everyone else in college football is doing it.
And the Pac-12 money will now allow them to do so.
IN A PERFECT WORLD, Oregon State would schedule some top teams. And beat them. As long as we're dreaming here, they would be able to negotiate home-and-homes, too, so OSU fans could watch Alabama or Florida or Ohio State experience a black-out in Corvallis.
But back in the real world of college football, the so-called powerhouses regularly play seven of twelve games at home -- sometimes even eight. Their non-conference schedule has all the fizz of a three day old can of root beer. But at the end of the season, high in the polls and with lots of wins under their belts, that's all but an afterthought.
Oregon State needs to do more of that.
For purists, those are hard words to swallow. But unless the NCAA gets involved and mandates some changes in the area of scheduling, the Beavs have no choice -- if they want to play on a level field.
LSU HAS BEEN the king of scheduling to their advantage. Even when college football was on an 11-game schedule, LSU often still played seven of those games at home. You have to go back more than 15 seasons, all the way back to 1995-96, to find a year when LSU actually played six games on the road. The Beavs last did so in 2009. They did the same thing in 2008 and 2007, too.
In 2008, LSU managed a 7-5 record and got to a bowl. Four of those seven wins came via North Texas, Tulane, Troy and Appalachian State. LSU didn't leave the state during their non-conference schedule, playing all four of those games at home. But they got those 15 bowl practices. They ended up winning their bowl game, too, and got all the ancillary benefits that come with a bowl win, recruiting and otherwise.
If in 2008, LSU played more of a Pac-12 type of non-conference schedule, would they have still been able to get to seven wins?
This isn't really a knock on LSU. They've maximized their potential for wins. And they're far from the only ones scheduling cupcakes.
Virginia Tech scheduled James Madison, East Carolina and Central Michigan in 2010 as part of their non-conference slate, (though James Madison pulled off a shocker no one saw coming.) This coming season, they'll face Appalachian State, East Carolina, Arkansas State and Marshall.
Alabama regularly uses three of four non-conference slots to log almost sure-fire wins. Last year it was San Jose State, Duke and Georgia State. This year, it's Kent State, North Texas and Georgia Southern.
Tennessee in 2011 has Montana, Cincinnati, Buffalo and Middle Tennessee State on tap. NC State has Liberty, South Alabama, Cincinnati and Central Michigan. Texas Tech will face Texas State, New Mexico and Nevada. Defending national champion Auburn will put it on the line against the likes of Utah State, Clemson, FAU and Samford. The list goes on.
OSU, if they want to consistently win and go bowling, needs to schedule accordingly.
Cause and effect: OSU and Pac-12 TV money
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