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Food for Thought

Schools playing eight home games this season (2006):

Alabama, Auburn, LSU, Florida State, Virginia Tech, Kansas State, Memphis, Hawai'i

Why am I not surprised three of the eight are from the SEC?

Honestly, it's not even an "SEC" issue with me anymore.  It's simply a problem, period.  One that needs to be fixed, and one way to come to a solution is to 1)highlight the problem (this post, for example) and 2)bring shame to the schools that are looking for shortcuts.

Does anyone think Georgia suddenly gets off its collective duff and schedules a roadie to a place like Colorado and Arizona State without fans making noise and pointing out that the program's last regular season game outside the historic south was well over 40 years ago?  I don't.  Somewhere along the line a concerned fan or administrator was able to pass along word to Georgia's athletic director Damon Evans that simple fact (or something similar) and shocked/embarrassed him into action.

I'm particularly surprised at Auburn, given that they took so much heat for their weak scheduling in 2004 when they could have competed in a BCS title game if not for the soft OOC slate.  They've beefed up their OOC schedule this year (Washington State, Tulane, Buffalo) if ever so slightly, but have shoehorned eight home games into the same schedule.  In fact, they play nine of twelve games in the state of Alabama, and 11 of 12 within the state or bordering states.  The Tigers' only extensive travel is to Columbia, South Carolina to play the South Carolina Gamecocks in late September.

Different tactic, same problem: running away from competition and potential losses.


Then I'll shut up.



The great LD adds a few comments and does some fact-checking (sayonara, Memphis and Hawai'i, although both still have a disproportionate 7 home games) in the comments below.  He says we need to look at a school's scheduling patterns to see if the eight game slates are a quirk or part of a more troubling pattern.

I buy most of what he says, and am willing to give some grace to Alabama and perhaps LSU.  Auburn, on the other hand, you guys simply find ways to look worse and worse.  You're my preseason No. 3, act like it! 

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Reader Comments (7)

An eight game home slate will not be the for Alabama in the future.

2007: neutral game with Florida State

Either '08 or '09 sees Bama playing at Duke (I know, I know, but at least they're travelling!)

2011: They travel to Penn State

2014: They travel to Georgia Tech

I would imagine a few of the years not yet accounted for will feature some travelling...especially since they kicked the travelling back up in the early 2000s with trips to Oklahoma and UCLA.

My guess on the eight game home slate this year is they knew they'd be starting over with a 'rookie' QB and with road game to Florida, Tennessee and LSU, why throw the kid under a bus travelling to a tough out of conference game?

I don't like it, but I understand why they did it since they're still in a bit of rebuilding.
July 9, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterNico
I remember the Oklahoma and two UCLA games well. They were great for football, despite being 'Bama losses.

If not for that fake punt that Oklahoma game might've had a different outcome.

2007 and 2011 I'll greatly anticipate.

If I had my way there'd be a round-robin OOC match of sorts between CFB's "Holy Trinity" one year: Notre Dame, USC and Alabama.

Anyway, I don't think there's any justification for an 8-game sked, even if intelligently anticipating for a new quarterback.

PS-thanks for hanging out on here Nico. Your presence is appreciated and welcomed. You run a quality blog that I check quite often.
July 9, 2006 | Registered CommenterCFR
Got an address for Nico's blog?
July 9, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterMark
July 9, 2006 | Registered CommenterCFR
Arkansas also plays 8 games at "home." Two of the games are in Little Rock...the remainder in Fayetteville. So make that four of nine teams from the SEC. (We always like to say that we're the "leading" conference!)

And, of course, one of those Fayetteville games is against USC on Sept. 2. ;-)
July 9, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterTipsterHog
This I won't complain about. Weak scheduling is an embarrassment, and I have no problem with you continuing to throw teams under the bus for it, even if it does get a little redundant.

I still claim, however, that the biggest cause for all of this (besides regional OOC's like UF-FSU, UGA-GT, blah blah) is the postseason format. Let's face it, 2004 was an aberration. It isn't often that more than 2 teams will finish undefeated, and if you are one of the undefeateds, you can expect to play for the title. The reward is not given for putting together the best body of work, but for putting up the smallest number possible in the 'L' column. Which is more impressive, going 10-2 with a full Big Ten slate plus Texas, Notre Dame, Mississippi, and Oregon, or going undefeated through the same conference and having Miami (OH), Toledo, Eastern Michigan, and Baylor? I think that clearly the former is at least as good, and probably better. However, given those two teams, the 12-0 team would get USC in the title game, while the 10-2 would have to campaign for an at-large in the Orange Bowl. THAT'S the problem.

I think the best solution is to find the four most deserving teams, regardless of conference, and having a little mini-playoff for the title. Give the 11-1 or 10-2 guys a shot at the title, if they deserve it. Then, and only then, will it become legitimately rewarding for a team to schedule some powerhouses and know that their season isn't necessarily decided by that one game.
July 9, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterCody
I've written before that teams who schedule 8 home games should be shamed, so I agree with this post almost entirely. I think most teams should follow a 7 home games one year / 6 the next system and schedule better opponents - at home and away.

At the same time, and not making excuses for anything, I wonder why these teams have so many home games. What was the rationale for doing it (other than simply "more money")? Was it just a quirk in the calendar? Are there any reasons that might not be gleamed from a cursory view? Scheduling almost always needs a closer look...

First off, Memphis only has 7 home games this year. Seeing 8 on there didn't make sense to me - they don't make that much money scheduling home games. They play 4 home conference games (Tulsa, So. Miss, UCF and Houston) and 3 OOC home games (UT-Chattanooga, Tennessee, and Arkansas State). Their other OOC game is on the road at Ole Miss (though they've played that game in Memphis before, not this year).

Also, Hawaii doesn't play 8 home games either. They play 7 home games (UNLV, Nevada, Idaho, La. Tech, SJSU, Purdue, and Oregon St.). Their other OOC game is at Alabama. In the future Hawaii has road games set up at Florida, Washington State and UNLV. Back in the day Hawaii was in demand for other teams to travel there because they could pick up a 12th game (like Alabama and USC have done recently). But since everyone is now playing 12, I think you'll see Hawaii travel more frequently.

Kansas State has long been known as a team that schedules poor opponents for reasons of building up the program - better records = more visibility. It's a conscious decision (and not one I agree with, and also one that I think they've been mocked and discounted for). This year is the front half of a h/h with Louisville, and they travel there next year. They've also got a road game scheduled at Miami (OH) next year. Seems like next year they only have 6 home games at most (only other one scheduled is home against Fresno State, so they could have even 5 home games). So this year's schedule, while definitely weak, doesn't look quite as bad if you combine it with next year's more difficult. I mean, had KSU scheduled 7 home games each year (just swap the years the Louisville game is played at home), which is quite as bad as it could be.

Alabama, Nico's already covered ahead. As it typically the case, many schedules are set years in advance, so I'd add that a few of these opponents were probably set during the scholarship reduction days. Not an excuse, but it is a reason.

LSU: Odd situation there. Remember that they lost a home game (Arizona State) last year due to Hurricane Katrina (as well as a lot of other resources and such). Last year they only had 6 home games. Also, the Tulane matchup is another odd situation. It's part of a 8-10 game h/h series. This year, they couldn't play at the Superdome because of uncertainty about the renovations (I drove by it two weekends ago - I'm not sure it'll be ready for Tulane's opener this year). LSU plays at Tulane next year, and their other opponents in 2007 are pretty good - Virginia Tech, Southern Miss, Louisiana Tech. Down the road they're traveling to Arizona State and TCU too. The situation at LSU I think is a little strange, and if you look at a 2-3 year stretch rather than just this year, their scheduling situation is a little more understandable.

Virginia Tech: This year's schedule looks terrible. Last year, they did play at West Virginia though, and only had 6 home games (not 7). In the coming years things seem to get a whole lot tougher for the Hokies. They play at LSU and a neutral site game against East Carolina (Charlotte) in 2007. In 2008 they're at Wisconsin. 2009 they play two road OOC games (at ECU and Cincinnati) while playing Wisconsin and Marshall at home. 2010 they travel to Syracuse (2009/10 appear to meet the 7/6 rule I suggest). In 2011 they travel to ECU again and are at Marshall. In 2012 they're at Illinois and Pittsburgh. In 2014, they've set up a road game at Ohio State. So they're already headed toward a more balanced (home/away) schedule and with LSU, Ohio State and Wisconsin, they've got some very good opponents OOC coming up.

FSU: Kind of like Kansas State, this year's schedule looks poor, but next year's has two road OOC games (Colorado and Florida) and a neutral site OOC game (Alabama in Jacksonville), meaning that combining this year and next, they have 13 home games (meeting the 7/6 rule, sort of). Also, the Noles only had 6 home games last year. In the coming years they have road games at Oklahoma, West Virginia, BYU, Air Force, and the every-other-year with Florida. This is just kind of an odd quirk over a long-term solid reputation of scheduling.

Arkansas, as Tipster Hog said, does have 8 effective home games because of the Little Rock games. They did only have 6 home games last year because of the H/H with USC, and they do have H/Hs with Texas and TCU in the coming years. They could improve their schedule though, definitely.

The team you've singled out, Auburn, is probably the one team that most deserves a lot of scorn. This year they play the 4 conference home games and all 4 OOC games at home. Last year they played all 3 OOC games at home. They don't have a road OOC game scheduled as of now until 2009 (at West Virginia). There's no clear reason why Auburn hasn't made any moves to improve their schedule, and no quirks in the calendar that explain it.

So basically, when you look at the schedules a little more closely, I think you'll see that most of the teams you've singled out are already making an attempt to improve schedules (and that's good for everyone), or there might be an odd quirk that explains things a little (like for LSU, FSU and Kansas State). Auburn, however, might have some questions to answer.
July 11, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterLD

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