So this week, some pretty significant college football news dropped. The NCAA Board of Directors voted (strongly) in favor of allowing the Power 5 conferences (ACC, B1G, Big 12, PAC 12, and SEC) to have the ability to write many of their own rules. There are lots of significant things that could come from that, but one on-the-field thing is that the conferences could decide to have schedules solely made up of teams from only the Power 5 Conferences.
I'm actually surprised that more coaches aren't opposed to that for a lot of reasons - padding win totals, playing local non-Power 5 teams (i.e. West Virginia playing a team like Marshall), etc. 46% of Power 5 coaches, though, are interested in playing only other Power 5 teams.
Paul Chryst was asked about it at training camp and while he said either was fine by him, his preference seems to be to move to a Power 5-only schedule.
The Pitt head coach had this to say:
"You guys know me now. Whatever the rules are, we’ll play with them. I like that. I think that’s the great thing about competition. And that’s not to say that I don’t respect and appreciate every opponent we play. We were just talking the other night – you talk about a lot of really good teams. Whatever they come up with, I think there’s value to that. But I’m not in charge; I’m not going to be a spokesman for that. My first game, we lost to a I-AA school, so I don’t want to come off like that. But there’s a lot of neat places to play at, going on the road. Teams coming here, I think that would add to it. If everyone’s playing by the same rules, I’m great with it."
And yeah, that was a 'Neat' drop.
Chryst had to be careful here since Pitt has some history in being challenged by (and losing to) non-Power 5 conference teams. I really don't think it's a disrespect thing for him. After losing to Youngstown State, it's hard to believe that he doesn't think teams outside of the Power 5 conferences aren't good enough to play the major conference teams. I think he's just one of those guys that would relish the challenge of playing as many big time games as he could.
My voice hardly matters in this thing, but I hope the other teams aren't left out here - for a lot of reasons.
Chief among them is the fact that there are some darn good teams in the other conferences and they deserve a chance to play prestigious opponents, too. Think about it - before Louisville snuck into the ACC, they could have been on the outside looking in. You're telling me that a team like the one they had a couple of years ago should be limited to playing only small-conference teams? When a team is really good in a particular season, they won't even get a chance to prove themselves until a Bowl game.
And what happens to the upsets by restricting the schedules? Sure, you'll still get some of that when the lower-rated schools in those conferences pull of a big win, but it's not the same as a MAC or AAC team knocking off a Top 25 foe. Legit teams in the past like the Cardinals or Boise State wouldn't get to face a Power 5 team.
Lastly, it just would make the disparity in college football even greater. As things stand now, a kid with an offer from a team in a smaller conference still might be inclined to pick them over an offer from a Power 5 team. Things like playing time, location, etc., can be big factors. But while you'll still get some of that if the scheduling rules change, I've got to think more of those kids will be less inclined to take the offer from the smaller schools since they won't have the ability to face the best of the best.
I get the argument to play only Power 5 conference teams, but I just think leaving out so many other programs is the wrong thing to do. If the goal is to beef up everyone's schedule, then going to nine conference games across the board is a better way to do it. I personally prefer eight-game conference schedules, but at least that way, there's still a little wiggle room for the smaller schools having the chance to add a high-profile opponent each season.
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