The great schedule debate
It's an interesting question: Would college football teams in rebuilding mode rather play their toughest opponents on the road or at home?
Dan Steinberg, who covers Maryland football for the Washington Post
, was on ACC Nation
this weekend. Off the air, I told Dan I thought the Terps' schedule was favorable, but he politely disagreed.
While Maryland won't be favored in many games this year, there are games on the schedule the Terrapins could win. In conference, Maryland is on the road against three of those teams - Georgia Tech, Virginia and Boston College. They also travel to Clemson as well as non-conference opponent West Virginia to round out their away schedule.
At home, Maryland opens with three games they should win (William & Mary, Middle Tennessee and Florida International) and then welcomes N.C. State, Florida State, Miami and Wake Forest.
Dan's point is that Maryland would be happy just to reach a bowl this year, and in trying to do that would be better off with those middle-of-the-road teams like UVa., Georgia Tech and BC in College Park. If those games are even matches or one or the other team has a slight advantage, Maryland would have a better shot at home.
He also reasons that Maryland will lose to Florida State and Miami wherever they play, so home-field advantage doesn't mean that much.
In other words, if Maryland only has a few teams on its schedule that it can realistically beat, they'd be better off playing them at home.
Point understood, although I 'm not sure I agree with it.
In the current state of today's college football, I think teams are better off just to shoot for the stars than aim low and hope for a mediocre bowl berth. If there was a playoff, things would be different.
But there's isn't a playoff and reaching, say, the MPC Computers Bowl in Boise, ID, doesn't do much for a team. The biggest advantage is that it gives teams extra practice time. But most money teams make from the lower tier bowls is spent on travel costs for the players, band and cheerleaders. Some teams even end up losing money on the deal, especially when the game isn't within easy driving distance for most of the school's fan base and the school has trouble selling its share of tickets. Meanwhile, teams that don't make a bowl can save on the travel and still make money because of conference revenue sharing.
So, it seems to me, a team should either shoot for a BCS bowl or nothing at all. And that's why Maryland's schedule is favorable. This is a Terps team not too far removed from playing in the Orange Bowl. So it's not an unrealistic goal for the team to get back to that level in the near future.
In order to do that, the Terrapins need to beat the likes of Florida State and Miami, and having them come to College Park makes that task a little easier. The last time FSU came to Maryland, the Terps won. And last year, Florida State lost at Virginia. Beating the Seminoles, especially when FSU hits the road, isn't nearly as tough as it used to be.
As I wrote earlier, it's an interesting question.- Patrick Hite