As Big 12 Media Days was in full swing last week, it was a chance for the Big 12 Conference to tout it’s depth and fight back against the overwhelming public perception that the conference is not one of the strongest conferences in the country. This is something we spoke with Fox Sports’ Joel Klatt about last week as well.
One point that needs to be hammered home is the reminder that the Big 12 is the only conference playing a round robin schedule, with 9 conference games and a conference championship game. You want to say Kansas stinks and shouldn’t count as a legit Power 5? Sure, the Jayhawks are struggling mightily, but that’s not the fault of anyone else in the Big 12 Conference.
West Virginia is the best example of putting together a behemoth of a 2018 schedule and Dana Holgorsen made sure to point this out at Big 12 Media Days, saying, “We’re going to play power five schools. I know Commissioner Bowlsby sat up here and gave you the stats on the number of Power Five schools that everybody plays. We are very proud of that. At WV we play 11 Power Five schools, NC State and Tennessee, along with the nine Big 12 opponents. I wish everybody would do that.”
He’s right. Compare this to Alabama, who will play eight conference games, one Power 5 non-conference against a rebuilding Louisville and then it’s Arkansas State, Louisiana-Lafayette and Citadel. Oh and don’t forget that Citadel game is on November 17th, essentially giving the team its second bye week in a month and a breather before their game against rival Auburn.
The SEC’s scheduling an FCS opponent in late November is one of the biggest crimes in college football, but they get away with it because the likes of Paul Finebaum and the other mouths at ESPN that continue to slobber over the Southeast Conference at every turn. If there was any honesty or integrity the national media would’ve gotten on the conference to the point where the SEC had no choice but to knock it off.
Meantime, the likes of Nick Saban and Gus Malzahn can tell the media that they think the SEC should play nine conference games, but could that just be a ploy to appease some media folks, while knowing it’s unlikely to happen anytime soon?
SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey said the eight-game schedule, as well as the format with one permanent and one rotating cross-division opponent, was “the clear preference” of the league’s members back in 2014. Oh, no kidding! Coaches who make millions of dollars each year to win football games would prefer to make their schedule easier so that they can, in turn, win more football games. You don’t say!
The SEC and the ACC are the only teams to play eight conference games, while the Big 12, Big Ten and Pac-12 play nine. With the SEC and ACC (mostly Alabama and Clemson) having their way reaching the National Championship, why change? There’s no way of knowing if the late-season FCS game really has helped Alabama, or others, in recent season reach the biggest game of the year. But I know this, it sure hasn’t hurt ’em.
Holgorsen went on to say last week in Frisco, TX, “It’s not quite fair that we have to play that schedule and then you have schools in other respective conferences that play nine. They play nine power five schools. It’s uneven, but we’re going to keep doing it.”
So as the Mountaineers prepare for a brutal schedule, which opens up with five games in 28 days including Tennessee, NC State, Kansas State and Texas Tech, Alabama will beat up on Arkansas State and LA-Lafayette and Clemson will run over Furman and GA Southern. Then, by the end of September many in the media will already be predicting the Alabama-Clemson game for a third time in four years as they book their tickets to Santa Clara for the 2019 National Championship.
Dana Holgorsen was right to question this, as it’s the biggest sham in college football. I just wish he went further in his comments, called out the ACC, and especially the SEC, for what is really going on: a schedule manipulation to maximize the conference’s chances of hoisting another National Championship in January.
The more voices we can get in on this topic, the better.
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