Cougs could use more home sweet home games

WHEN IT COMES to better maximizing its chances to win, Washington State has made some strong choices in recent years – chief among them going out and getting Mike Leach and breaking ground on new facilities upgrades like the Football Operations Building. But there's still one area that the Cougs have not delved into…

Scheduling.

It's simply a fact. College football teams play a helluva lot better at home than they do on the road.

In the 10 years from 2000-2009, the win-loss record for all college football teams according to Phil Steele in the FBS was 4593-2651.

In other words, the home team won 63.4 percent of the time.

On the road, the visiting team won just 39.7 percent of the time (2602-3957).

FOR THE SECOND straight season, the Cougs will play only five games in Pullman.

Meanwhile, LSU played eight home games – count ‘em, eight –out of a 12-game schedule in 2012. This season, they'll play seven games at home.

You have to go back almost 20 seasons, all the way back to 1995-96, to find a year when LSU actually played six games on the road.

SOME OF THE paucity of games in Martin Stadium is Washington State's own doing. They choose to play one game a year in Seattle. Also, the Pac-12 is different than the SEC in that the Pac-12 has a nine-game conference schedule.

Still, WSU will play more games on the road this season than many other teams will. Teams such as LSU strive, and generally succeed, to play all of their non-conference games at home.

Unless the Pac-12 changes things, WSU will never have the opportunity to play eight games at home in a 12-game schedule. But they could have some years where they play seven in Pullman, plus a game in Seattle.

IT WOULD BE difficult, scheduling all three non-conference games at home. And the competition level would drop. But maintaining the status quo will simply continue to put the Cougs at a disadvantage from those who schedule more to their home advantage.

And it's not as if racking up 7-8 home games every season, against lesser competition, has hurt teams like LSU. Wins and bowl games trump a schedule full of creampuffs. Every time.

In a perfect world, all schools would play a more competitive non-conference schedule, and home-and-homes would be plentiful, if not required. But such is not reality. And so imagine what a difference three more home games makes to the LSU's of the world each season.

And then imagine some of that same advantage in the Cougs' corner.

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