In the search of making sure strength of schedule doesn’t harm your playoff chances or rankings by the College Football Playoff committee, Bert Bielema, the Arkansas head coach, is offering a college basketball like idea which pits the SEC against the Big Ten on an annual basis, to help with the issue of finding FBS teams to schedule for a non conference game.
Assuming there’s a decision in favor of this and all power five conferences jump on the opportunity, would it mean that via rotation one conference would be left out from the automatic scheduling each year, or simply turn the American conference into one of the guys, making it a Power 6 thing, and make it easier on coupling major conferences together.
Let the best of the best play each other, and maybe the lower ones play each other week-in and week-out. Just reserve a week every year, it would be kind of a fun thing. People would get into that now. I’ve been in both leagues, and I have the utmost respect for both. It would be something kind of fun if you could just reserve that and that might eliminate the whole need for an FCS. Then you schedule three other opponents that are FBS and go.
You have to think outside the box. You really do see it come into effect with the playoff rankings, and people are talking about it week-in and week-out. As coaches, we can’t really get into it too much during the season, but people talk about all the time, and it’s on TV and it’s on radio, it’s what’s made our sport at an unprecedented high. I think if you think outside the box a little bit, even like what I just said or maybe with another conference you could maybe find some constructive ways to do away with FCS opponents by even making it a little more balanced. To me, that’s a fun way to look at it.
Not everyone is keen on Bret Bielema’s idea, especially in the SEC, which is often criticized for playing FCS schools late in the season prior to rivalry week. The SEC coaches and ADs who are in favor of keeping things as they are use two reasons for their choice: It helps the FCS teams financially, and that the SEC is so strong (not every time, and certainly not top to bottom) that it doesn’t hurt their strength of schedule so much. Voters do love SEC teams and usually forgive them for losses in the conference.
There’s also the issue of getting two conferences, with 28 head coaches and 28 ADs, on board with such a thing. Mark Stoops, the Kentucky head coach, things that’s difficult to achieve. Nick Saban of Alabama thinks that P5 teams should stop playing FCS teams, but Mark Richt of Georgia says it would hurt college football because of how financially reliant FCS schools are when it comes to the games against the big SEC schools, and suggests that Power 5 schools’ strength of schedule should be ranked by their top 11 games.
In the Big Ten, they’re done with playing FCS schools. In the SEC, there hasn’t been much public discussion about it, but beginning in 2016, the SEC will require its schools to play at least one non conference Power 5 team, which also includes Notre Dame, Army and BYU, the independents.