We are just over six weeks away from the start of college football season. That is a good thing.
For Big 12 football fans, that means we have six weeks to watch an opening weekend of games which include:
Big 12 Opening Weekend Schedule
|Sept. 1||Marshall||West Virginia|
|Sept. 1||Missouri State||Kansas State|
|Sept. 1||Northwestern State||Texas Tech|
|Sept. 1||Savannah State||Oklahoma State|
|Sept. 1||South Dakota St.||Kansas|
|Sept. 1||Tulsa||Iowa State|
Wyoming and Texas isn't horrible. Neither is SMU and Baylor. Overall however, there aren't a whole lot of games worth getting too worked up about. But hey, who's complaining? Any football is better than no football, right.
It gets slightly better the following weekend with Miami-Kansas State and Arizona-Oklahoma State highlighting week number two but overall, the Big 12's September schedule leaves a whole lot to be desired (excluding the final weekend when conference play kicks into full gear).
That's not a fact that is lost on new Big 12 Commissioner, Bob Bowlsby.
Bowlsby was on ESPN radio in Dallas on Thursday and he knows it's an issue that's need to be addressed with the new playoff forthcoming.
"It is the best regular season in college sports, but it can still get better because October and November are terrific. They're off the charts. September is really not very good. We have a lot of very poor matchups in September and that's one of the things I hope that this playoff process will do," Bowlsby said.
What he's talking about is a strength of schedule metric that will more than likely be one of the components the selection committee looks at when deciding which four teams are chosen to play for the championship.
"We will definitely have some form of strength of schedule measure. The metrics are still in development, but we hope that we can do some things to facilitate great matchups in September because we don't have very many games like Oregon and LSU."
Will a strength of schedule metric force teams to add more heavyweight type matchups to their nonconference slate?
For schools in conferences such as the Big 12, the shear fact they're in the conference already means they'll have a tough road to hoe in the conference schedule.
Going back to the previous question, will schools be willing to add a team, let's say USC, to the schedule in hopes of beefing up their strength of schedule? Maybe, but I wouldn't say it's likely.
If a school wins that game, they're in great shape A loss, however, and there's already a blemish on the record before the calendar flips to October. Another loss in conference play and suddenly you are a two loss team and probably on the brink of being eliminated from playoff consideration.
What's more likely is that you'll see less matchups against FCS opponents, and more with respected mid-major programs and lower level BCS schools.
Texas' schedule this season is probably the recipe you'll see more often than games such as Alabama and Michigan who are set to open the season on September 1st.
The Longhorns are set to play Wyoming, New Mexico, and Mississippi. There aren't any juggernauts there, but there's enough competition for Texas to avoid any hazing when it comes to selection time in the future playoff. (Texas can say we played a team from the SEC on the road! - Ole Miss was 0-8 in the SEC last season).
There's little doubt the Big 12 needs to do a better job of scheduling than what they've done this season. I'll stop short of calling the Big 12's nonconference schedules embarrassing, but it's not far from it.
A strength of schedule component will help to a certain extent, but only if the selection committee puts some serious weight behind it. The first time a school misses out on the playoff because they have a nonconference loss to a top ten team, we'll be right back to ground zero when it comes to future scheduling.
In the meantime, it's time to start getting ready for some exciting Savannah State and Oklahoma State action on September 1st.