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Stadium and Main: Thanks for nothing, Georgia

Monday, August 07, 2006

Thanks for nothing, Georgia

College football fans, I’d like to introduce you to this year’s version of “a pretty good team from a pretty crappy conference that everybody is worried is gonna sneak into the BCS Championship Game:” West Virginia. Saturday, September 2nd isn’t just the first full day of college football, it is also the first day on which many “intense” fans will be rooting against West Virginia. And this is why:

2006 West Virginia Mountaineers Football Schedule:

Sat.   Sep. 2    Marshall
Sat.   Sep. 9    Eastern Washington
Thu.   Sep. 14   Maryland
Sat.   Sep. 23   at East Carolina
Sat.   Oct. 7    at Mississippi State
Sat.   Oct. 14   Syracuse
Fri.   Oct. 20   at Connecticut
Thu.   Nov. 2   at Louisville
Sat.   Nov. 11   Cincinnati
Thu.   Nov. 16   at Pitt
Sat.   Nov. 25   USF
Sat.   Dec. 2    Rutgers

West Virginia is a good team – I’m not saying they shouldn’t be ranked in the Top 25. But are they a Top 5 team? Are they a Top 2 team? They might be at the end of the season, thanks to that stinker of a schedule. And thanks to one other thing – a victory over Georgia in last season’s Sugar Bowl. After the 2004-05 ACC-Big East shuffle, which saw Miami, Virginia Tech, and Boston College head for greener pastures, the Big East was effectively reduced to a glorified Conference USA. Everything was going as planned (meaning nobody gave a second thought to the Big East). After the 2004 season, Pitt got trounced by Utah(!), 35-7, in the Fiesta Bowl. Over the past 2 seasons, the Big East has finished dead last in pretty much every meaningful “power” ranking (record vs. other BCS conferences, quality non-conference wins, etc.) They have been abysmal. And they are abysmal. But… but!… West Virginia beat Georgia. This gave the Big East a bit of credibility, while making West Virginia a trendy pick for the 2006 National Title, due to the fact that they return the vast majority of their team… oh, and they don’t play anybody!

So instead of being somewhere around #15, West Virginia opens the season ranked #7 in the Coaches’ Poll. In a season where there is no clear-cut favorite at the outset (6 different teams received first-place votes), and where the 6 teams ranked in front of WVU all have fairly challenging schedules to contend with, West Virginia has a very good chance to go undefeated, move up the polls (by default?) and make it to the BCS Championship Game. Would/could the same thing have happened if they had started at #15? Maybe. But by starting out at #7, they might move into the Top 5 within the first few weeks if teams like Notre Dame or Oklahoma lose (possible), and because Texas or Ohio State will lose (since they play each other). And in a year in which many “experts” are predicting a handful of one-loss teams, a team ranked Top-5 by the end of September that goes undefeated the entire season has to be in the BCS Championship Game… doesn’t it?

Set your TiVo – Texas vs. West Virginia, January 8, 2007, 8 p.m. Eastern on ABC. It’s gonna be one for the ages!

3 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The weakness on WVs schedule would not be there if Miami, VT and BC had not run out.

It's not WVs fault that the ACC performed rape on the Big East while the rest of the NCAA stood by and watched.

Kudos to Michigan State, Auburn and Florida State foe giving WV a chance on future schedules...

So instaed of whining about schedule strength...why don't you lobby to the folks in Ann Arbor to schedule a home and home with WV instead of some MAC team.(so you don't have to go on the road)

3:37 PM  
Blogger Nick said...

I'm not blaming WVU for their schedule, but I am saying that it is quite weak. I didn't criticize their scheduling practices, and I understand the harsh circumstances (ACC raid), but I will call it like I see it. And that schedule is horrible.

Your final paragraph brings up a point that many college football fans often miss: Michigan plays Notre Dame out of conference almost every year. I've had fans say to me "all you guys do is play MAC schools." People forget that ND is NOT a conference game. Oh, and by the way, we have also played UCLA, Oregon, Colorado, Washington, Boston College, Virginia, Syracuse, and Utah - all within the last 12 seasons. And 6 of those were home-and-homes.

I would love to see Michigan do a home-and-home with WVU, so I will write a letter to the A.D. You've convinced me. After all, if I have time to write this blog, I obviously have time to do that.

10:12 AM  
Blogger Jake said...

Anonymous,

You can't have it both ways. If Va. Tech, Miami, and BC didn't leave, nobody would care about WVU. Now, people do. Is it a coincidence that WVU's best season in recent memory came after those teams left? It is a coincidence that WVU's only loss last year was to Va. Tech? That game was a home game and it wasn't even close.

So, would you rather have nobody care about your program and be in the same conference as Miami, Va. Tech, and BC, or would you rather have people care about your program by default because you're benefiting from those teams leaving?

Anyhow, if you read Nick's article, it should've been clear that it wasn't an attack on WVU rather than an observation of reality.

10:50 AM  

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