Earlier this week, well respected writer Bruce Feldman, formerly of ESPN and now with CBS, came out with his list of easiest non conference football schedules for 2012.
For example, he listed Texas Tech as the team playing the easiest non-conference schedule. He had Mississippi State as number two and the Indiana Hoosiers were number three.
West Virgnia was also listed as #6 on the list of easiest non-conference schedules.
The list doesn’t mean that much. It basically gives those of us who love college football something to write about in the middle of the summer. However, it does point out one thing.
There really is no honor in playing a challenging non-conference schedule in college football anymore. When West Virgnia was in the Big East, the Mountaineers needed an intersectional type of game to gain some national credibility. Thus, you saw recent series with Auburn, LSU, Colorado and others.
Things have changed for the Mountaineers now. With the up-grade into the Big 12, the Mountaineers don’t really need to play a significant intersectional opponent to try to secure a high national ranking.
I give Nick Saban at Alabama and Les Miles at LSU credit. Even in the rugged world of the SEC, those two programs don’t need to play a challenging non-league schedule either. But, they do. Last year LSU played Oregon on a neutral field and played on the road in Morgantown. Saban just finished a home and home with Penn State and this year he opens with Michigan at a neutral site. He has also opened with Virginia Tech and Clemson in recent years.
The landscape of college football is changing once again. In two years, a four team playoff is coming. With the direction the game is going, most teams don’t want to hurt themselves with tough games in September.