Zemek: The One Game Concept

Posted Oct 28, 2013

Matt Zemek Thought After Week 9 - The One Game Concept

By Matt Zemek
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One very simple point has to be advanced and affirmed as October ends and November begins: Just one really good mandated non-conference game would do wonders to improve the quality of college football's regular season, thereby enhancing the product.

What is this "one-game" concept?

Forget the granular details, though. The larger point is this: Schools would be forced to play non-conference opponents in early November, giving the sport the kind of cross-pollinated matchups it just doesn't showcase very often. Scheduling, while tricky, should not be treated as a challenge akin to putting a man on the moon or curing cancer. Any system would involve the announcement of home and away dates well in advance, with opponents then being inserted into the schedule at a later date (again, don't worry about the when; focus on the larger principle being articulated).

Someway, somehow, injecting one non-discretionary non-conference game into the schedule each season has to be done. Just one game (one, not three) would do so much to not only elevate the quality of competition in the sport, but increase the degree of clarity in each season.

Why is this being said? Why does this need to be said? Look around the nation. A lot of teams are either unbeaten or tagged with only one loss, and yet, we really don't know how good they are – both individually and in comparison with each other.

Just one game would tell us a lot about Baylor and Miami. Just one game would tell us a lot about Texas Tech and Virginia Tech.

Hypothetically, if the 2014 playoff plan existed this season, just one game between UCLA and Auburn would inform playoff committee members on the relative merits of the Pac-12 and SEC, two leagues whose top-tier teams hardly ever meet. Just one game between Missouri and Stanford would be so helpful for the selection committee.

Just one game – that would illuminate the minds of the selection committee when being forced to evaluate Fresno State and Oklahoma… or Ball State and Clemson… or Fresno State and LSU.

Just one game. One. Not three or five or eight, but one. That's all it would take to vastly improve a college football regular season without need of an expanded playoff (for those who loathe the idea of an eight-team playoff). No matter what system or method you prefer, you should acknowledge that the sport needs something like this. College football can use more argument-settling regular season games and fewer November shouting matches on Twitter that involve a paucity of meaningful data points.

November should be a month when teams rise or fall on their merits, but as we're about to see in college football's cruelest month, it's likely to be a time when fans of various teams and conferences rip each other on the basis of partisan affiliations and little else.

Just one game – out of one's league and out of the full control of the participating schools – wouldn't solve all problems under the sun in a college football November.

It sure would solve a lot of them, however. College football's leaders need to grow a pair and make something happen as the 2014 playoff plan comes into existence next year.