Bumped. GO BRUINS - BN Eds.
This post was originally a reply in the thought-provoking thread about our AD's decision to schedule UCLA against Texas at the new Cowboy Stadium in Arlington, Texas, in a 2014 season where we are already slated to play Virginia at Virginia.
After I typed the lengthy reply, I realized it should probably be in a stand alone post.
I have posted before about the nature of UCLA's scheduling and the scheduling of the Pac 12 in general. I have always been proud of the fact that UCLA has never scheduled a non-Division 1A (i.e., non-FBS) opponent. That does not mean, however, that The Morgan Center should go out and load up our schedule with tough OOC games like they are doing in 2014.
I used to ridicule the SEC for its cream puff scheduling and the seemingly superior nature of UCLA and, in general, the old Pac 10, to schedule tough OOC opponents versus the SEC's nature to schedule cream puffs.
Well, my thoughts on the matter have changed after living in Florida for 15 years and seeing how the SEC works. Those SEC teams (who only play an 8 conference game schedule) typically go 3-0 at home against those cream puffs, and maybe have one tough OOC game.
Then the good teams do well in conference and end up in a New Year's Day bowl game or better. The bad teams can go 3-5 or 2-6 in conference, end up 6-6 and still go to a bowl game. Follow me after the jump for an analysis of 3 such teams and their scheduling in the 2011 season.
Look at Auburn last year: Ark St. @ home; Clemson @ home (the "tough" OOC game); Louisiana Monroe @ home; and Tennessee-Chattanooga @ home. BTW, not including the SEC championship game and the national championship game, Auburn played 8 home games and 4 road game (all OOC games at home). That is setting up a season for success. They didn't gave the guts but got ALL the glory. i.e., a national championship and a Heisman Trophy
Look at Alabama last year: San Jose St. @ home; Penn. St. @ home (the "tough" OOC game); Duke on the road; Goergia State @ home. 3 home games and one road game against a BCS team but a doormat BCS team. Alabama played 7 home games, 5 road games and went 9-3 in the regular season, which got them into a New Year's Day bowl game, which they won, to go 10-3. That's setting up a season for success, although Bama fans consider 10-3 with a loss to Auburn to be a down season.
Now, look at Kentucky last year (or pretty much any year): @ Louisville (the "tough" OOC game); Western Kentucky @ home; Akron @ home; Charleston Southern @ home. 3 cream puffs and a road game against their OOC rival. Kentucky goes 4-0 OOC. 2-6 in the SEC. 7 home games and 5 road games. 6-6 and a bowl game.
So clearly, the no risk no reward thing isn't happening in the SEC. And it has worked for them. Over the years, their bowl ties are amazing. Did you know that the #6 SEC team plays in a New Year's Day bowl (the Gator Bowl)? With BCS teams removed from the mix, this actually means the 7th or 8th best team in the SEC plays in a New Year's Day bowl game. A 3 loss Miss. St. team played in the Gator Bowl last season. Last year a 5 loss Florida team played in the Outback Bowl (also a New Year's Day bowl). Compare that to the very weak bowls for even the Pac 12 #2 team (Alamo, not on New Years Day). Some pronosticators have a 2 loss Oregon team playing in the Alamo Bowl. I guess the guts of playing LSU in what was essentially a home game for LSU might not pay off for the Ducks.
So, although I used to agree with the mantra to go out a schedule the best, in this day and age of college football, intelligent scheduling wins out over a "no guts no glory" approach. In the Pac 12 (with 9 conference games) that means, if you are UCLA, in seasons where you play 4 home games and 5 road games in conference, all of the OOC games should be played at home with one marquee opponent. In seasons where you play 5 home games and 4 road games in conference, 2 OOC games should played at home and one on the road, with one marquee opponent. That means 7 home games every season. 6 home games and 6 road games (or worse) is not going to cut it anymore.
For UCLA, 2011 featured 5 conference home games and 4 conference road games. I am assuming therefore, that under the new PAC 12 regime, UCLA will play 5 conference home games and 4 conference road games in odd numbers years and 4 conference home games and 5 conference road games in even numbered years. That means that, in even numbered years (2012, 2014, 2016, etc.) it is critical that we not load up on OOC road games. I would argue, as stated above, that in these types of years, UCLA should play ALL of its OOC games at home.
Well, Dan Guerrero just screwed the pooch for 2014. In Dallas for Texas (this is not about as much of a neutral site game as if UCLA played Texas at The Big A); @ Virginia (according to at least two Web sites, it appears that the Virginia game has been rescheduled to August 30. See our tentative future schedules here); and one other TBA game (it better be at home game against the likes of New Mexico State). In a 12 game season it appears that UCLA will now play 5 home games and 7 road games. Remember, some SEC teams will be playing 8 at home. Now look at 2016. @ Rutgers; @ Nevada; TBA. Another season with only 5 home games (assuming the TBA game is at home). This unnecessarily puts UCLA behind the 8 ball and sets them back from teams that have 7 or 8 home games. UCLA's administration is essentially tilting the playing field against UCLA!
Next season we are @Rice, with Nebraska and Houston at home. 6 home games and 6 road games. Next season would fit into my model of intelligent scheduling if Rice was a home game.
The bottom line is, if UCLA is going to have success in the future, the Morgan Center needs to take an intelligent approach to scheduling to maximize UCLA's oportunities, while also allowing for one marquee OOC opponent a year.