Monday, August 30, 2010

Why the Beavers need to change the way they schedule

Alright, who made this schedule?

Oregon State plays somewhere between the #1 and #6 toughest schedule this season. In the first three games the Beavers play two top 10 teams in all the preseason polls. Meanwhile, the Beavs rank somewhere from 22 to 36 in those same polls. The Beavs are pushing their own Heisman Hopeful, Jaquizz Rodgers, but some pundits think that Boise State's Kellen Moore is a front-runner (OSU's third opponent).

At this point does anyone realistically think Oregon State will be better than 1-2 going into Pac-10 play? Sure, I have dreams of 3-0 and College Gameday here for the Nov. 20th USC game after we start 9-0. It could happen.

Unfortunately, that just doesn't seem to be the way it goes for OSU. Losses to Fresno St., Louisville, Boise St (twice), Cincinnati (twice), Utah, and Penn St. early in the season always seems to propel those teams to the BCS and top ten seasons. Its almost like teams poised for a break out season have to make sure they schedule the Beavs that season. Again, BSU and TCU loom large this season.

The one magical season we as Beavers fans (Fiesta Bowl, top 5 finish) was fueled by a mediocre to weak preseason schedule. We almost lost to Eastern Washington and didn't exactly pummel New Mexico. If they beat Washington (3pt loss) then they had a good shot at being in the national title game.

Boise St. and TCU have such a weak conference schedule they need to schedule big games out of conference. Anyone who runs the table in a BCS conference will be in the title game. Worst case, they could be third and thus left out. Someday we will have a playoff and it won't matter.

So I ask the question: Why schedule teams as good or better than you out of conference?

I can only come up with these reasons:

* Money
* Prepare for the tough conference games
* Increase chances to be in a BCS game
* To get them back at our house in future years for a big game
* Machismo

If you're the Beavers only #1 and #4 are valid IMO.

2000 taught me that even a weak schedule can prepare you for a tough Pac-10 schedule. Also, most years our early bad starts continued into the early Pac-10 season. Early season losses to Cal, ASU, USC, and UCLA are still burned in my memory. Clearly, the pre-season didn't help prepare us for those games.

#3 doesn't seem to matter in this age of Utah, Hawaii, Cincy, Louisville, Boise St., and TCU all getting to BCS games. You can still get a BCS game even with one loss in conference if you win your OOC games.


Here's the crux of my argument:

The current system doesn't reward tough scheduling.

If the U of O goes 3-0 in OOC (likely) this year with their weak schedule and loses one game in conference, they're going to a BCS game no questions asked. They may even have a shot at the title game.

If there isn't any benefit, then why risk it?

I'm willing to bet the short/long term money for playing in a BCS game is much bigger than one payday game in Death Valley or Dallas, TX.


What do you think? Are these tough schedules worth the money? Do you think they help or hurt us?

Alternative Views and Related Links:

Bold scheduling has made Oregon State central figure in 2010 race -

Oregon Ducks rundown: The Ducks' nonconference schedule looks like cupcake row - The Oregonian
Is this a bad thing?



Anonymous said...

Like Quizz said, "To be the best you gotta play the best!" Normally I would agree with you but I see a lot from this team that tells me that if they're gonna have such a tough schedule this is the year to do it. The offense seems miles ahead of where they've been the last few seasons. (whether the offense is good or the defense is bad is yet to be seen) Katz seems to be poised to have a fine first year, we have so many quality receivers I can't even name them all, we are pretty deep at RB too. Quizz are obviously a huge reason why we scheduled TCU and BSU is just a hell of a program that I would love to play every year! Let's go Beavs!

Jason said...

I have as much hope as you do, but I just don't think we need to do this to ourselves every year.

But, hey, one of these years its gotta work out, right?

I agree that our offense looks good, but I really hope our D is OK. That's what always kills us early in the season.

Anonymous said...

Well said Jason...and don't forget that for some reason when the Beavs lose the pre-season games they tend to do so in blowout fashion, on nat'l tv no less. Let's hope this team turns that around...after all, this is a year when the top 10 teams we play are weak compared to years past. GO BEAVS!!!

Jason said...

Thanks. Yea, we're not playing an awesome Penn St. team, but TCU and Boise St. look scary.

I'd say its more likely we beat BSU at this point just because of familiarity. I'm really hoping for a 2-1 start at least. But even that is an uphill battle.

Anonymous said...

Jason, you failed to mention Louisiana State, which is a huge reason why the "(twice)" appears after Boise.

Our Fiesta Bowl season, we did have a weak nonconference slate. What people don't seem to grasp is that, the Pac-10 was the strongest conference in the country in 2000. If Oregon State had played a slightly stronger schedule, the Beavs could have gotten some more BCS love. With a decent nonconference slate, 10-1 Oregon State could have been in the Orange Bowl, as opposed to having to have the Pac-10 threaten the BCS to let Oregon State in. The Fiesta Bowl was a shining moment for OSU, but it was also a missed opportunity.

Now, would Oregon State have won against a stronger schedule? Maybe, maybe not. The first two games, the Beavers definitely played down to their competition. However, I would never write off a team that had Nick Barnett, Chad Johnson, and T.J. Had Oregon State played a decent option team, though, they would have been prepared--I would say better prepared, but Oregon State played like Dennis Erickson had just found out that teams were still running the option in 2000--to play Washington. If they take down that first option team, they take down the Huskies and all of this is mute. Instead, the Beavers gave up 281 yards on the ground. The next option team the Beavers played? Notre Dame. 17 yards on the ground. You can't tell me that Washington didn't prepare Oregon State to thrash Notre Dame. That's nonsense.

"Anyone who runs the table in a BCS conference will be in the title game?" 2004 Auburn--nonconference: Louisiana-Monroe(5-6), the Citadel, and Louisiana Tech (6-6)--and 2009 Cincinnati--nonconference: Southeast Missouri State, @ Oregon State (8-5), Fresno State (8-5), @ Miami (OH) 1-11, Illinois (3-9)--would beg to differ. When you aren't at a Alabama, Florida, LSU, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Texas, or USC, your nonconference schedule matters a lot more. That's not fair, but that's the way things are.

I would add to your list: #6, to win a game for the ages. If Oregon State-TCU is played on December 31, no one cares. Instead, it's played on September 4, and the nation will tune in. Win that game in Arlington, and you will have the nation talking. Oregon State has only ever won four games in the old Confederate States of America. 1942 Rose Bowl, 1964 at Baylor (last Rose Bowl year), and the two Sun Bowl wins. This year, against TCU the Beavers have the chance to win a game that fans will be talking about for 50 years.

Anonymous said...

Since '99, Oregon State played Division 1-AA teams every year except '04 and '08. You can't have more than one count each year (in BCS standings and bowl-qualification) and, with the way fans tend to stay away from Reser like a plague, when directional Washington's on the schedule, it doesn't make much sense monetarily.

Most of your losses are home-and-homes. There's not much Oregon State can do, except for possibly scheduling worse teams. But, then, the team winds up in places like Laramie, Las Cruces, and Moscow. Is that really where you want the Beavers to be?

Getting back to '04 and '08, Oregon State traded away a 1-AA team and Idaho for LSU and Penn State, respectively. Those games netted Oregon State at least a million. Worth it? I think so. Oregon State wasn't going to compete in '04. Another win over Notre Dame in the Desert was about as good as could be hoped for. And Penn State made Oregon State better.

All in all, for now, Oregon State has to schedule one-and-dones. If anyone has a problem with that, get Oregon State to sell out no matter the opponent. Then, complain.

Jason said...

What's with all the Anonymous postings?

Thanks for the comments anyways...


I think you're missing the point. The current system doesn't reward tough scheduling. If the U of O goes 3-0 in OOC (likely) and loses one game in conference, they're going to a BCS game no questions asked. They may even have a shot at the title game.

If there isn't any benefit, then why risk it?

I'm willing to bet the short/long term money for playing in a BCS game is much bigger than one payday game in Death Valley or Dallas, TX.

Get enough 10-11 win seasons an watch the attendance for any old game soar.



I say in the Pac-10/12, SEC, Big-12, or Big-10 if you run the table (undefeated season) you will be in the title game. Yea, it doesn't always happen but then its usually because there are more than one undefeated team.

Victor said...

Good post J. In general, I share the same sentiments that you make. As a quick side note :), in the past few years, the Ducks have played home and homes against Boise State, Oklahoma, and Fresno. They also played at Michigan (in an unexpectedly bad year). A lot of these are scheduled years in advance, so it's tough to really predict the level of difficulty. But yeah, this year's schedules are night and day for the in state rivals.

Is it worth it? There are a few angles to consider, several of which you mentioned. The 1st (and really most important) is money. I am not sure of the numbers, but you mentioned the BCS money outweighs the OOC game against TCU. Let's say it's $20 mil vs $5 mil. If someone offered you $5 mil or a 10% chance (or worse - Oregon schools have not played in many Rose Bowls) of getting $20 mil (otherwise receiving $1-$2 mil for lesser bowl games), what would you do? I take the guaranteed $5 mil. At least if I am mid-level big program like the Oregons. Now, Oregon has Uncle Phil, so maybe the Ducks pass up on the $5 mil and gamble, but should the Beavs? I can see why they would not.

Not sure if you mentioned it, but the "ah shucks" Riley :) factor. He wanted to play 1 game in TX for the Rodgers boys, right? Coach K does this, but playing against UP or PSU at the Rose Garden (with Mike Dunleavy) is not a big deal for Duke, plus it's basketball (there's that crazy playoff system!). But same concept. By signing up does he realize he just severely reduced (IMO) his chances of playing a BCS game in his final year with both the Rodgers bros?

That said, I bet the experience (win or lose) of playing at Texas Stadium, the Big House, at Tennessee, at Penn State, etc. is pretty amazing. Especially since most of those players will not play pro, it's something they will remember.

So I guess as a conclusion, I would say the Beavs are getting a net benefit in scheduling TCU and a home and home with Boise State. Although, I might be upset if the Ducks did that :o.

Jason said...

Thanks for the comment Vic.

Oregon has been pretty good at scheduling tough games in past years. I was merely using them as an example this year.

Yea, once you factor the % chance into it, maybe the BCS jackpot philosophy doesn't work out.

The experience the the players and fans in these type of games is pretty cool. And I like that James and Quizz get to play in Texas.

That said, if the ultimate goal is the Rose Bowl or an at large BCS bid, then I think you have to give yourself the best chance to get there. The increase in recruiting, good will, national attention, increased enrollment, and fan attention/donations is just too much to ignore. The potential benefit has to outweigh the $20 Million for the game alone, right?

Anyways, I actually like it when teams schedule tough because I'm a fan.

But financially, I'm just not sure its the right way to go. But, hey, hopefully the Beavs will shock the world!

Anonymous said...

If anyone is interested, I do have a 1942 Rose Bowl Program that my dad had been saving. Features Oregon VS Duke

elan said...

You forgot recruiting.

More national exposure means more people get to hear about the Beavers as a brand.

Sure some of the games have been blowouts (and some have been close), but the announcers will tell the story of what an up-and-coming program we have to millions of viewers, and some of those people might be high school players. They could be influenced by the story and perhaps persuaded to join the program.

It's tough to measure how effective this really is, but coupled with the other factors you listed, it makes for a compelling reason to play these games.

In this season in particular, pre-season isn't going to matter. Our only real shot at a BCS will depend on us taking care of our usual business in the PAC-10, and beating the pants off Oregon (finally) in the Civil War for the Roses again this year. Why wouldn't we want to capitalize on marketing and brand exposure in the pre-season.

Seriously. We're playing our opening game in Cowboys stadium. That's pretty freaking rad, you have to admit.

Jason said...


Yea, I loved the pomp and circumstance of the Dallas game. I think it probably was a good thing for exposure and recruiting.

All I'm saying is that so is a 10-1 season. We'll have a tough road to get there if we always play the toughest schedule in America.

I'm hoping we take care of Louisville and the shock the world against Boise St! The Pac-10 looks very reasonable for us and sets up nicely.

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