4. Do NOT schedule anyone good. EVER.
More than ever, if you’re an athletic director, you’re an idiot to schedule a good team in non-conference play.
It’s great for the fans, and we all want to see the big matchup vs. big matchup showdown whenever possible, but there’s absolutely no reason to risk it if you’re a Power Five program.
It’s a wee bit different for the Group of Five programs, but beating North Carolina and South Carolina didn’t do much to boost Appalachian State into the fight for a New Year’s Six spot.
The formula continues to hold. Unless you’re 2018 Ohio State – hurt mostly by a 12-0 Notre Dame – if you go 12-1 or better and win your Power Five conference championship, you’re all but a lock to get into the College Football Playoff.
And if you’re 11-2, even if one of those losses is to an excellent team early on? Nope. Enjoy the swag bag from one of those college football friendlies.
If Oregon had scheduled Creampuff State instead of Auburn to start the season – assuming everything else went as it did – it’s in the College Football Playoff instead of Oklahoma.
The Sooners scheduled teams that were supposedly good, but Houston and UCLA weren’t, and there was the difference in the No. 4 spot.
All Utah had to do was beat Oregon in the Pac-12 Championship and the fourth spot in the CFP was a real possibility. And why?
It was a good team that got through the Pac-12 season with just one loss, and its non-conference schedule was BYU, Northern Illinois and Idaho State.
Again, Oregon played Auburn.
After the Utes got rolled by the Ducks, Baylor had the puck on its stick with a shot for the College Football Playoff. And why?
It was a good team that got through a mediocre Big 12 with a slew of fun wins, and it rocked Oklahoma in the first half, but forget to show up for the last 30 minutes. Even with the loss to the Sooners, the Bears were 11-1 going into the Big 12 title game helped by non-conference games against Stephen F. Austin, UTSA, and Rice.
Minnesota would’ve had a massive task to get by Ohio State in the Big Ten Championship, but the chance was there to not only get to Indianapolis with a win over Wisconsin, but to have a shot at the College Football Playoff. The Gophers lost to the Badgers, but the only way they were even in the discussion for big things was because they got there at 10-1.
They weren’t sharp to start the season, but they played South Dakota State, Fresno State and Georgia Southern – 3-0.
By the way, Wisconsin played USF, Central Michigan and Kent State in non-conference action.
Ohio State was good enough to beat anyone, and Florida Atlantic, Cincinnati and Miami University were among the best Group of Five teams this year, but … whatever. It’s not like going to Texas like LSU did, or even face Texas A&M like Clemson had to do.
But again, you’re crazy to deal with anyone who might hand you a loss. In the end, no one really cares, and this season, that included the College Football Playoff committee.