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• Sideline: Yes, Non–Conference Games DO Count
• NCAA Preview 2009
• Sideline: Time For The Talking To Stop
• Sideline: In Memory of Air McNair
• Sideline: Will Goodell Hand Out Hard Time?
• Sideline: Marshall's Not Joshing
• NFL Draft: No Rush To Judgment
• NFL Draft Analysis 2009 (Part 2)
• Sideline: NFL Draft Thoughts (Part 2)
• Sideline: NFL Draft Thoughts
• Sideline: Will Play For Food
• Sideline: Wonderlic Scores
• Sideline: Manning and Sanchez
• Sideline: 2010 Leagues Sci–fi, or Fantasy? / March Madness
• Sideline: Break Out The Brackets
• Sideline: LaDainian Tomlinson On The Record
• Sideline: The Incredible Sulk Continues
• Sideline: Guildford Heat Fired Up
• Sideline: Super Bowl thoughts from the Valley of the Sun
• Sideline: I know I came in here for something
• Sideline: College Football National Signing Day
• Sideline: 27 Points — 27 Super Bowl thoughts
• Sideline: An Epic QB Matchup?
• Sideline: Appreciating Arizona for What They Were
• Sideline: NFL Divisional Weekend Preview
• Sideline: Bowl Season Hangover
• Sideline: Six weeks Later
• Sideline: Wildcard Weekend Preview
• Sideline: Santa's Sackings
• Sideline: A Weis Decision ...for Now
• Sideline: Eye on the Ticker
• Sideline: Lions — An Anagram of Losin
• Sideline: Ready for the Turkey
• Sideline: Making it to the Big Dance
• Sideline: Brighter Days Ahead for Chargers?
• Sideline: Unnecessary Hits To The Pocket / Upset: BYU
• Sideline: Romo's Pause / Seattle Seahawks
• Sideline: Weekend Prep: Red River and More
• Sideline: College Football's 'Crossroads' Weekend
• Sideline: Gramatical Error
• Sideline: Turning The Page
• Sideline: So Cal 'Quizzed
• Sideline: 3rd Tuesday Panic / Forté Yard Dash
• Sideline: Two and Oh; Oh and Two
• Sideline: No More NCAAffeine
• Sideline: Week 1 College Football
• Sideline: How To Spell Heisman / Chad Ocho Cinco
• Sideline: A Second Slice
• Sideline: The Favre story STILL won't go away
• Sideline: Olympic Notes / Ricky's Still Relevant
• Sideline: Committee Meetings
• Sideline: Let the QB Battles Begin
• Sideline: Slinging The Slinger — More Favre
• Interview: Clint Dempsey
• Sideline: Welcome to the 2008 season
• Sideline: Plus One
• 2008 NFL Draft Review
• Sideline: Draft: The Morning After
• Sideline: Draft: Thinking the Unthinkable
• Sideline: Draft: Ready For The Long Haul
• Sideline: Sofa–bound Sport
• Sideline: Post–Winter Wonderland
• Sideline: Six Impossible Things
• Sideline: Brady's Misdirection Play
• Sideline: Colorful Language
• Sideline: Let the Romo–bashing begin
• Sideline: Bowl Bites: The Wrap
• Sideline: All About The Coaches
• Sideline: Bowl Bites 3
• Sideline: Bowl Bites 2
• Sideline: Bowl Bites 1
• Sideline: Coach Situations Vacant
• Sideline: For Some, The Playoffs Are Now
• Sideline: A Certain Lack Of Welcome
• Sideline: Unrelated Notes
• Sideline: Two Thanksgiving thoughts
• Sideline: Halftime: NFC
• Sideline: Halftime: AFC
• Sideline: London / A Tale of Two Chads / Intimidation
• Sideline: Damp Squib / Other London Notes
• Sideline: Rock 'Em, Sock 'Em / Dolphins – The Aftermath
• Sideline: The Dolphins Did What?
• Sideline: Notes on the Defenses
• Sideline: Habits to be Broken
• Sideline: Overtime
• Sideline: This Week's Starters
• Sideline: USF: Covering The Spread / Fantastic Football
• Sideline: Grossman: The Final Act? / McNabb, the Epilogue
• Sideline: Eagles QB in Slight Controversy
• Sideline: Leftwich's Parting Gift / Boos cruise
• Sideline: Notre Dame M.I.A.
• Sideline: Looking Beyond NFL Wk. 1
• Sideline: Best Hope For Heisman
• Sideline: Coaching Hot Seats / AP Poll Feeling ’Appy
• Sideline: The NFL’s Prime Cuts
• Sideline: Michigan Falls to Killer Apps
• Sideline: Look Out Couch / The Taint's On You, Bud

Observations, Opinion & Occasional Silliness by Richard L Gale

Yes, Non–Conference Games DO Count
September 16, 2009


"Should college football have a preseason" – one of the stranger (even slightly unhinged) suggestions I heard during recent podcast discussions. The participants were reacting to the season–opening Thursday non–event that was South Carolina against NC State, a dire 7–3 victory for the Gamecocks. Boise State v Oregon, billed as an offensive showdown, didn't really deliver the points either, 19–8. Of course, the idea of a college preseason is absurd as long as the NCAA football pecking order remains a matter purely of opinion; any game played, including something labeled 'preseason' would factor into the judgement calls that are the polls.

To some extent, the non–conference schedule — where we are right now — is the conference preseason. Go 1–3 now, and a big bowl is still possible for 'Big Six' conference teams, if they get their act together the rest of the way. They matter a heck of a lot more for the non–Big Six teams who have to go cap–in–hand to the cartel managers and beg 'pleeeease can we come and play in your games' (to which the answer has usually been 'Okay, but not the big one, and just the one of you'). Maybe that's part of the reason they're that little bit more up for it when the street urchins of the MAC, WAC and C–USA get a chance to slap the hero kids silly.

Already this season, we've seen Boise State (WAC) shut down Oregon's (Pac–10) vaunted rushing attack, Brigham Young (MWC) upset last year's finalists Oklahoma (Big 12), Colorado State (MWC) and Toledo (MAC) out–duel Colorado, Fresno State (WAC) take Wisconsin (Big Ten) to double overtime, Central Michigan (MAC) upend Michigan State (Big Ten), and Houston (C–USA) out–gun Oklahoma State (Big 12). We're conveniently failing to acknowledge that elsewhere mid–major teams were being downed in the usual manner by 'Big Six' opponents, but there's been no avoiding the fact that the non–BCS conferences' best are as good as the big names from the big name conferences.

Former Notre Dame head coach Bob Davie, now a commentator, opined during the Boise State game that while the mid–major teams might beat a big–name foe as a one–off, they lack the depth to compete on a week–to–week basis with the quality of opponent in the bigger conferences. It's a fair argument, only slightly tainted by the way Boise State's one–offs are becoming habitual. That 'depth' argument also crossed my mind when BYU got lucky against a Sam Bradford–less Oklahoma; I noted the way they got lucky consistently, all over Sam Bradford when Oklahoma's line couldn't contain the BYU pass rush, until finally Bradford wasn't able to play football any more. Then neither did Oklahoma. Then they lost. So much for the depth argument.

Not that an ex–Notre Dame coach couldn't harbor some kind of bias, considering Notre Dame's special BCS arrangement has the potential to bounce one at–large team from the BCS scenario each year. Michigan did a nice job of sorting that out for us this past weekend, knocking the Fighting Irish from their top–25 ranking and back into a reality where Notre Dame still have to prove it.

Michigan beats Notre Dame, USC beats Ohio State, Alabama beats Virginia Tech, BYU and Boise both did their part, and the non–conference schedule has provided plenty of shuffling in the early polls. I'm all for that! Were there to be a college football preseason, these non–conference games are the sort of lucrative match–ups we'd be seeing, partnered with the request 'Now, you promise you won't drop us down the rankings if we don't score more than one touchdown against those missionary kids?'

Of course, Oklahoma, we wouldn't dream of it.

The only question is, once the conference schedule begins and regionally–biased voters have a chance to immerse themselves in the rivalries of Oklahoma–Texas, Ohio State–Michigan, Virginia Tech–Miami (I know that should read Virginia Tech–Virginia, but have you seen Virginia this season — I mean, they lost to TCU), and those teams suffer just one loss or less the rest of the way, do you suppose the goldfish–memoried voters are going to remember what those unbeaten mid–majors were doing back in September?


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