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5 Thoughts - Non-Conference Are Overrated
Alabama RB Trent Richardson
Alabama RB Trent Richardson
CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Sep 26, 2011


5 Thoughts - The non-conference games don't matter. It's time for league play.

CFN Analysis 

5 Thoughts, Sept. 26 

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Past Thoughts  2010 5 Thoughts | Week 1 | Week 2 | Week 3

- Fiutak: The bias against Boise State
- Cirminiello: Oregon is back to being Oregon 
- Zemek: The incredible flopping punter
- Sallee: Florida is the class of the East
- Fiutak: Non-conference games are overrated    

E-mail Pete Fiutak

With Texas A&M now officially gone to the SEC in July of 2012, and the rest of the snowball soon to pick up steam with the SEC needing a 14th team, the Big East likely to grab a few Conference USA programs, and the Pac-12, ACC, and Big Ten still fishing around for ideas to get bigger and better, there’s one part of the equation that’s a near certainty, and it’s the part that too many fans are freaking out about.

There will be more conference games and fewer big non-conference games.

All of a sudden, what SEC team is going to want to schedule an extra nasty non-conference game when it has to deal with Texas A&M on a regular basis?

But here's what's being lost; how much would you rather see an SEC game against the Aggies over an SEC team playing Florida Atlantic? If it's Florida State, Clemson, or Virginia Tech coming in as the 14th team, wouldn't any one of them provide a better and more interesting game than Memphis?

With the new world of mega-conferences we’ll all be entering in the near future, the one certainty is that TV will drive things more than ever. College football is a cash machine for the networks and the schools, and with the bigger conferences come bigger games, bigger stakes, and more viewers than ever. ESPN is chirping about owning Saturday nights, FX is doing great, ABC is loving the big game ratings, and everyone is happy. Going forward, though, the networks are going to want more options, and the fewer dud non-conference games, the better.

The concern is that the top non-conference games are soon going to go away. The reality, though, is that for every LSU vs. West Virginia and Georgia vs. Boise State, there are way, way, way too many clunkers that no one cares about. While there will always be a cupcake game on everyone's slate, there will also always be a big rivalry non-conference game of note that'll be tough to get out of. The losers will be the middle-tier programs, but really, for the fans of great matchups, that won't be a bad thing.

I’m sorry, non-BCS schools, but America just doesn’t give a hoot about who Idaho is playing next week. Trust me when I say that no one but the true die-hards really care about whether or not the hot Conference USA team might pull off an upset. It’s been a CFN mission to highlight the under-the-radar teams, players, and games you should see and should care about, but on the whole, the bigger and more important conference games are far more interesting than hoping for a good game out of a Sun Belt team against a Big 12 power.

Even if you don’t care about the Big Ten, is Northwestern’s game against Illinois this week more interesting, or Western Michigan’s game against the Illini last week? Kansas State’s heart-stopping win over Miami barely got two minutes of play on the highlight shows, and as good as that was, Baylor’s trip to Manhattan will be more meaningful, even if it doesn't resonate on a national scale.

Almost all non-conference games sound more fun in theory than they actually are - Alabama vs. Penn State, anyone? - and with more important conference seasons and bigger and better leagues will come a bigger and better overall college football season. If the world has to sacrifice the occasional Georgia vs. Boise State matchup for Georgia vs. Arkansas, so be it.

Really, there just aren’t that many great non-conference games to be missed. This year, for example, Arizona vs. Oklahoma State sounded good in March, but it was awful. Texas at UCLA barely drew a national yawn. Even the biggest of the big games, LSU vs. Oregon, wasn’t exactly an all-timer. Those are just the big, splashy matchups, without mentioning all the games with a -24.5 next to the home team on the sheet The top-notch non-conference matchups quickly fall off the map once you get past the most attractive ones at the top.
 
Yes, Indiana playing anyone in the Big Ten right now isn’t going to move the needle, and yes, Ole Miss vs. Vanderbilt didn’t get the world rocking. Yes, certain conferences and teams will be overinflated just by looking great in league play. And yes, the idea of more conference games being big only works in the long haul if there’s a playoff at the end of the rainbow to make up for the lack of an extra non-conference game or two.

However, after too many snoozer matchups over the first month of the year, please, it’s time to get the conferences rolling in full force. October will be more fun than September, and soon, September will be even stronger.

- Fiutak: The bias against Boise State
- Cirminiello: Oregon is back to being Oregon 
- Zemek: The incredible flopping punter
- Sallee: Florida is the class of the East
- Fiutak: Non-conference games are overrated