When the new College Football Playoff was unveiled last year, much of the talk centered on how the selection committee would pick the participants.
Schedule strength became a frequently discussed topic.
Some of the sport’s heavyweights started scheduling one another for future non-league games. That is part of the equation for schedule strength.
But, conference play (especially the round-robin variety) is also part of the equation. And, realistically it is a bigger part.
Because conference schedules include eight or nine games in a year rather than one (such as a non-conference battle with a strong foe or a league title game), it’s obvious that a strong division / league schedule influences strength of schedule the most.
With all of that as a backdrop, the most pertinent question may be, “what conference / division is the strongest?”
That will be decided on the field, but – for fun – here is a list of the best Power 5 leagues in order of winning percentages (data from Stassenfootball.com) in the last five years:
• SEC West (.662) – Alabama, LSU, Auburn, A&M, Arkansas, Mississippi State, Ole Miss
• Big 12 (.608) – Baylor, ISU, KU, K-State, Oklahoma, Okie St., Texas, TCU, Tech, West Virginia
• SEC East (.567) – South Carolina, Florida, Missouri, Georgia, Tennessee, Vandy, Kentucky
• ACC Atlantic (.563) – FSU, Clemson, Louisville, N.C. State, Syracuse, BC, Wake Forest
• Pac-12 North (.562) – Oregon, Stanford, Washington, Oregon State, Cal, Washington State
Seven (of the 10) programs in the Big 12 have won more than 60% of their games since ’09. The SEC West and East (4-of-7) and ACC Atlantic (3-of-7) have the next most teams with 60-percent or higher win rates in the last five campaigns.
Florida State’s Jimbo Fisher summarized it well on Sirius XM Radio last week when he concluded an interview by saying the Big 12 probably does it the right way.
In the Big 12 if Oklahoma and Baylor were the top two teams (and didn’t have a championship game), you can still look back to their match-up during the regular season as a tie-breaker.
In the SEC, say that Alabama and South Carolina qualify for their championship game. There is a decent chance those schools didn’t face each other in a cross division match-up so the title game merely fixes what didn’t happen in the regular season. And, if the title game is a second meeting between the schools there will be all sorts of grumbling about having to beat a team a second time.
You’ll get no disagreement in Big 12 country, Jimbo, that the Big 12 has positioned itself well for its champion to get proper playoff consideration.