We're just weeks away from football kicking off in Pullman. On September 5th, WSU will exit the locker room and take on a real, live football team in Martin Stadium. The team their playing? Well...
Football reporter, author and noted Mike Leach confidant Bruce Feldman checked in recently to give a run down of the easiest non-conference schedules in the power 5 conferences. The make the top 10 list, Feldman created his own rating system:
Teams merit 5 points if I think they'll be Top-5 caliber; 4.5 if its Top 15; 4 if they're Top 25 caliber; 3.5 is Top 40ish; 3 is Top 60; 2.5 is Top 80, 2 is Top 100; 1 for the bottom of FBS; 0.5 is a winning FCS program and 0 for losing FCS program. I also gave a bonus 0.5 if it's a road game and 0.25 if it's a neutral site game.
He averaged out every power 5 team (some play 4 games, some play 3) and ranked those averages. WSU ended up tied for 8th with Baylor. The huge ding on Washington State is their 1st game. "The opener is against a Portland State squad that has been at the bottom or close to it the past few seasons in the FCS's Big Sky."
There's no arguing that WSU's non-conference schedule is light. But, for a team at WSU's level of rebuilding, a light schedule just might be the perfect prescription for the Cougs. Get a couple of wins out of the gate and get ready for the powerhouses of Oregon and Stanford in conference. On the other hand, a traditional SEC style non-conference schedule doesn't exactly inspire fans and sell tickets.
Taking a look at the past schedules, and the future schedules, I think the correct balance is the answer. I have no problem with teams, especially teams where Washington State is, playing cupcakes. However, I don't think power 5 conference schools should spend one of their games on FCS opponents. The Big Ten and other conferences seem to agree. The conference recently announced that their schools will no long schedule FCS schools starting in 2016. They also joined the ACC and SEC in mandating that their schools schedule a game against another power 5 conference team. I'd like to see the Pac-12, or at the very least WSU, adopt an attitude like this.
So, when it comes to your own personal feelings, what is the perfect non-conference schedule for Washington State? Would you like to see WSU playing home-and-homes with Big 10 or Big 12 teams? Or are early wins against the Big Sky, Mountain West and Sun Belt more important? Should we get a balance? Who are your ideal opponents?
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