Thumbs up for his scheduling guts
The SEC has gotten a reputation for being the most chicken schedulers in the country. People claim they will never leave home or play difficult non-conference games and hence why they often have so many bowl eligible teams. So, just which programs in the SEC actually do schedule tough and which ones have earned the “chicken” moniker? Well, below I have ranked the 12 teams by their non-conference games against other BCS and major programs over the past 5 seasons. Things taken under consideration where total games, games played at true road sites, and games scheduled outside of natural rivalries. These are my rankings, tell me where I am wrong:
2011: Boise State (neutral), at Georgia Tech
2010: at Colorado, Georgia Tech
2009: at #9 Oklahoma State, Arizona State, at #7 Georgia Tech
2008: at Arizona State, #22 Georgia Tech
2007: Oklahoma State, at Georgia Tech
Why: Wow, what a slate of non-conference games they have booked. Remember, UGA got out of a home game against Louisville so they could book a neutral game against Boise this season. That takes some guts. They get the natural rivalry against GaTech, but have topped it with a TOUGH non-conference game (or two) each season.
2011: Oregon (neutral), at West Virginia
2010: #18 North Carolina (neutral), #22 West Virginia
2009: at Washington
2007: #9 Virginia Tech
Why: Another team who has shown the ability to take risks, especially in early season games. They also travel on the road cross-country to Washington, which has doomed many a team. And this season, travel into the hell hole known as Morgantown. We really shouldn’t expect anything else from Les Miles though.
2011: at Penn State
2010: #18 Penn State, at Duke
2009: #7 Virginia Tech (neutral)
2008: #9 Clemson (neutral)
2007: at Florida State
Why: Vaulted back onto the national scene with neutral wins over VaTech and Clemson, but they don’t stop scheduling tough games, booking a 2-year series with Penn State. Funny how national powers like LSU, Alabama, and Georgia can schedule tough games and still compete. Hmmmm, seems like that theory blows.
2011: at Clemson
2009: West Virginia
2008: at West Virginia
2007: Kansas State, South Florida
Why: I bet when they scheduled the games against Clemson and West Virginia, they thought they would be Top 20 teams, but those 2 programs have slumped. Still, they travel on the road and have at least attempted to schedule tough games.
2011: Florida State
2010: South Florida, at #22 Florida State
2009: Florida State
2008: Miami, at #20 Florida State
2007: Florida State
Why: Well, on the one hand they try to play all their rivals. But the fact they have not scheduled a non-conference road game outside of the state since 1991 kinda makes you question their scheduling. Even still, the non-conference teams in their state are tough, and they have kept the FSU series for many years now.
2011: Texas A&M (neutral)
2010: Texas A&M (neutral)
2009: Texas A&M (neutral)
2008: at #7 Texas, #18 Tulsa
Why: Arkansas got out of its series with Texas, which was weak, but they have a 10-YEAR SERIES with Texas A&M on the books, all neutral games. Still a tough opponent, so Petrino gets a little pass. The game in 2008 with Tulsa was bonus.
2010: #7 Oregon
2008: at UCLA
2007: at #12 California
Why: They schedule one tough non-conference game a year and are willing to travel west. Although they have been beat in every game listed, so maybe they should reconsider their scheduling methods. Even still, they schedule tougher than those below them.
8. SOUTH CAROLINA
2010: at Clemson
2009: at NC State, #18 Clemson
2008: NC State, at Clemson
2007: at North Carolina, Clemson
Why: Have a yearly series with Clemson, which is an up and down program, plus they have schedule a couple of mid-level BCS games. All in all, not very risky scheduling.
2011: UCONN, at Wake Forest
2010: Northwestern, at UCONN, Wake Forest
2009: #11 Georgia Tech
2008: Duke, at Wake Forest
2007: Wake Forest
Why: Vandy schedules a ton of BCS games, but they are all against mediocre programs. But for a program of their level, it is still risky.
2010: at Louisville
2008: at Louisville
2007: #9 Louisville
Why: Sigh. It would be nice to at least see Kentucky try and take a risk ONCE. But, they have stuck with this method and it has, in theory, helped them get to a bowl. Still, it shows a program that doesn’t think it can play with the big boys if it won’t even try and play the big boys.
11. MISSISSIPPI STATE
2009: #25 Georgia Tech
2008: at Georgia Tech
2007: at West Virginia
Why: Weak, weak, weak. Dan Mullen took his scheduling methods from Florida and brought them to Starkville. Simply put: Don’t leave the state.
12. OLE MISS
2008: at #20 Wake Forest
Why: Is there something in the water in Mississippi that makes them gutless? They got lucky Wake was ranked when they played them, and they haven’t been any good since. BYU only scheduled them because they went independent.