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Berry Tramel


Big 12 football: Ranking non-conference schedules

by Berry Tramel Published: May 29, 2012

Big 12 football’s non-conference schedule stinks. I use the word “stinks” because my editors might get mad if I used the word “sucks.” So I didn’t. But it sucks, too.

It’s an embarrassment. It’s an abomination. The next time you hear anyone in the Big 12 crowing about what a great football league it has, dismiss it summarily. Remember that autumn Saturdays against Western Illinois and Sam Houston State are the opposite of great.

I don’t care that the Big 12’s non-conference schedule is no worse than other leagues, including the SEC’s. Situational ethics might pass muster in life or death scenarios. Not in college football. You want to play South Dakota State and James Madison, fine? Just know that it brands you as a wuss.

OK, glad I got that off my chest. It’s time to rank all of college football’s major conferences’ non-conference schedules. You’ll find that the Big 12 doesn’t rank worse than most. It just stinks.

Let’s look at some overall figures for the Big 12:

Games against lower-division teams: nine. Every Big 12 team except Texas plays a I-AA foe. Bully for the Longhorns.

Games against traditional national powers: two. OU hosts Notre Dame, KansasState hosts Miami.

Games against other major-conference programs: five. Iowa State is at Iowa, OSU is at Arizona, Texas is at Ole Miss,West Virginia hosts Maryland. Do the math. That’s seven presentable games out of 30 non-conference games total.

Road games: eight. OSU at Arizona, Iowa State at Iowa, Texas at Ole Miss, TCU at SMU, Baylor at Louisiana-Monroe, OU at Texas-El Paso, Texas Tech at Texas State, Kansas at Northern Illinois.

Pitiful. Let’s go to the rankings.

1. OU: at UTEP, Florida A&M, Notre Dame. Play a real game, like the Fighting Irish, and you zoom to the top of the list.

2. Iowa State: Tulsa, at Iowa, Western Illinois. Strange, how there’s no correlation between program prominence and scheduling prowess. This isn’t a bad schedule. Road game against a Big Ten rival, home game against a decent program in Tulsa. The automatic-win game. Kudos to the Cyclones.

3. Kansas State: Missouri State, Miami, North Texas. What kind of bizarro world are we living in? K-State is among the upper half in scheduling might? This would never happen if Bill Snyder was still alive.

4. TCU: Grambling State, Virginia, at SMU. If you want to argue that the Frogs deserve to be No. 3, you’d have solid ground. TCU is playing two decent games out of three. That’s way ahead of the curve. But I like the marquee value of KSU-Miami.

5. Texas: Wyoming, New Mexico, at Ole Miss. Not a losable game on the list, which is sort of what we’re talking about, isn’t it? If you know who’s going to win when you go to the ballpark or flip on the Samsung, it hurts the experience. But give the Longhorns credit. No I-AA foes and no directional schools, plus an SEC foe, even if it’s a bad one.

6. OSU: Savannah State, at Arizona, Louisiana-Lafayette. The ‘Zona game is interesting, since it’s in the desert. Lafayette isn’t as bad as it sounds, but Savannah State is worse.

7. West Virginia: Marshall; James Madison at Landover, Md.; Maryland. I’m still mad at the Mountaineers for bailing on the Florida State series. That would have been a great gift to the Big 12 for the invitation to join the conference. Give the Big 12 a WVU-FSU series in 2012-13. Oh well. This is a mediocre schedule, but there are worse in the league.

8. Baylor: SMU, Sam Houston State, at Louisiana-Monroe. Baylor-SMU is a decent game. If it’s your second-best game, your schedule’s not awful. If it’s your best game, your schedule stinks.

9. Kansas: South Dakota State, Rice, at Northern Illinois. Northern Illinois actually doesn’t stink. NIU won the Mid-American Conference title in 2011, and at least the Jayhawks are going toDeKalb,Ill. Not everyone would do that.

10. Texas Tech: Northwestern State (La.), at Texas State, New Mexico. Sept. 27, 2003, should be a hallowed date in Lubbock. That’s the last time the Red Raiders played a non-conference, regular-season game against a foe from a fellow major conference. Since then it’s been a long line of pushovers.New Mexico and Florida International and Indiana State and Southeastern Louisiana and Rice andEastern Washington and UMass, and well, you get the idea. I remember when Texas Tech football had some pride. That day is gone.


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by Berry Tramel
Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The Oklahoman,...
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