Came across this on ESPN today. Seems Pat Forde has found that big time out of conference football games on the college level are disappearing:
Big-time intersectional games have gone the way of the wishbone.
I asked ESPN’s estimable Stats & Information group to run some numbers for this story. I wanted to compare the number of nonconference games between ranked teams from 1978, ’88, ’98 and 2008 — to confirm or refute the theory that there’s been a drop-off in ambitious scheduling.
The results: There were 11 games matching Top 20* teams in 1978, 15 in ’88, eight in ’98 and just four in ’08. In other words: over the past two decades, the number of Top 20 nonconference matchups has decreased by half every 10 years. And the Top 10 matchups have virtually disappeared, going from five in ’78 to seven in ’88 to two in ’98 and one in ’08.
I’ll go even smaller sample size than that. Notre Dame has games they play pretty much every year, Purdue,
USC, Michigan, Mich St., Navy. Boston College is recently renewed and Stanford can get altered with other Pac-10 schools. Our unique games this season are Washignton, UConn, Nevada and Pitt. It’s really not a schedule that makes me nervous or hyped up. Which is good, because we are still at leats a year away.
Schools like Florida and OSU get continuously ripped for playing chumps, but they play in very tough conferences. USC goes around looking for challengers but gets ripped for playing in a sub par Pac-10 conference.
Forde lists 4 main contributors to not having as many big time nonconference games: Money, league expansion, the BCS format, and having zillions of bowl games.
He only needed to stop at BCS and larger conferences. The best teams that know they have a chance every year never need to schedule a big out of conference game. And the ones that do do so because it is a money making opportunity and a chance to bolster their record. What I find really wild is the lack of conference games late in the year. And again, no one wants another unsure game against a quality opponent late in the season.
I really don’t think it is fair to compare those big games now to big games 20 years ago. Again, more teams are simply better, so in relative terms, if Ohio State plays Texas or USC, its a big game, a really big game. But they also will be playing , Michigan, Penn State, Purdue. They can’t fit more tough teams in the schedule because football is a game you can only play a handful fo times out fo the year. That is the beautiful thing about the conference schedule in most BCS football conferences. Every year, there are big games in season. It’s gonna be too tough to find tough games out of season. We should just all be happy with what we got.