It’s never too early to talk college football. Never. Even if the calendar say it’s barely summer, fall cannot get here fast enough. So over the next two weeks or so, Kermit the Blog will count down the 10 Easiest Schedules of the 2007 College Football season. We’re aiming for one a day (weekday… generally), but we’re lazy, so it might take longer. Thankfully we’ve got time.
#1 The Entire Big East Conference
I can already here the whining. “Uh, the Big East went undefeated (5-0) in bowl games last season and was the only conference to do so.” (A far better complaint would be: “Uh, dude. You’ve got eight teams tied at first.”)
Here’s why that’s a misleading if not meaningless statistic. To get to that 5-0 mark, Big Least teams beat East Carolina, Western Michigan, Wake Forest, Kansas State, and Georgia Tech. Only one of those teams even finished the season ranked (Wake Forest #18).
And while one of those wins was in a BCS game, the Orange Bowl, that match-up pitted the Big East conference champion against a team that needed to block a 28-yard field goal on the game’s final play to beat a winless Duke at home by a single point. Plus that Orange Bowl game got like a 1 share. And most of those viewers died of boredom.
So if nobody watched it, it might not have even happened
The Big East is simply the least rigorous of all the BCS conferences. Yes, the Mountaineers are pretty good (White and Slaton are unreal, but play some defense there Rich). South Florida is on the rise a bit. And Rutgers was a great story last year, but the Scarlet Knights are going to have to do it more than once and against better schools.
But they don’t. In fact of all the Big East schedule’s theirs is probably the easiest: Buffalo, Navy, Norfolk State is their opening trio of games. They do play a Jekyll and Hyde Maryland before hosting Cincinnati then they go to Syracuse. That’s the first time they leave home. And it’s October 13 and it’s against a team that’s won exactly one conference game in two seasons.
You would think Rutgers would want to play more road games as giving local kids the chance to travel out of New Jersey would be a selling point in recruiting.
Nope, they travel all of four times. Two of those games are at Army and at Connecticut.
The bottom line is that going to Cincinnati and to South Florida on consecutive weeks isn’t in the same class as going to Baton Rouge and to Gainesville. It’s just not. In fact, only three teams in the conference (Louisville, Cincinnati, and South Florida) even play back to back conference road games. The conference schedule itself isn’t that rigorous, so teams respond how? By filling out schedules with filler?
No, this is a conference that kind of needs to prove it can go beat people in their place. It needs to schedule up. At College Park (West Virginia September 13*) is the most difficult road game for anyone in the Big East in 2007. That’s not going to impress too many folks.
Go to Austin. Go to Ann Arbor. Go to Knoxville. Even if you don’t get a return game. Go.
Instead it’s a collective schedoggle of staying at home to play Maine, Akron, Temple, Duke, Murray State, Middle Tennessee State, Norfolk State, Buffalo, Army, Southeast Missouri State, San Diego State, Miami (OH), Grambling State, Eastern Michigan, Central Florida, Florida Atlantic, Elon.
I thought that last one was a type of ski.
Really. it’s like Austin Milbarge peeking at his commanding officer’s evaluation of him and partner Emmet Fitz-Hume after the staged sneak attack.
“What’s it say?”
It might be understandable if Big East opponents were carrying swords. They’re not.
Syracuse probably should get amnesty. They have Washington, at Iowa, and Illinois. They also have a couple of patsies in Buffalo and Miami (OH), but at least they are trying. And Syracuse has been pretty dismal themselves as of late, so simply scheduling BCS schools of any ilk should get them off the hook. But they get to pay a little for the sins of their brothers (Fredo, perhaps).
Big East defenders can keep whinging and keep pointing to last year’s bowl record, but the fact of the matter is big time college football is played on Saturdays. Not Thursday nights.
The Rest of the List
[*Ed. Note: My bad. As has been pointed out South Florida at Auburn is a more difficult road game. Yes, I looked at all the schedules (there were only eight of them) but one game doesn't change the fact that the conference's scheduling is very underwhelming. The rest of the Bull's non-confernce schedule is Elon, UCF, Florida Atlantic and North Carolina, who beat only 2 D-I schools last year including winless Duke by 1 point.]
[Ed. Second Note: If you need more of this. Click here.]