Recently, Missouri football’s strength of schedule has taken some fire from the media, but does it really matter?
When it comes to scheduling, the NCAA is a bit of a funny animal. To me, there’s really very little rhyme or reason behind many things when it comes to the NCAA. For me, the NFL’s system of scheduling is more straight forward, but that’s what I’m more familiar with.
Colleges schedule opponents years in advance, in addition to the required slate of conference games. When any “Power 5” program schedules the same “cupcake” non-conference opponent year after year though, does strength of schedule really matter, beyond ranking?
As an alum of a “Power 5” school, I’ve literally seen Penn State schedule the likes of Akron and Toledo every year.
It’s like seeing the same preseason game against Pittsburgh every year that my NFL team plays. The difference is, my alma mater usually defeats the Zips and Rockets, while the Panthers typically lose to the Steelers.
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So why bust Missouri’s chops, while other programs schedule the typical “ninnies” and barely a brow is furrowed over it? “It’s an SEC thing.” That’s the only basis I can think of that would cause the media to give such grief to Mizzou. That, and the supposed “fact” that Missouri isn’t challenging itself to schedule more rigorous opponents.
I get it – I understand the gripe, and Missouri fans want to see the Tigers defeat a certain quality of opponent with consistency, over any amount of opponent. That time will come, but I ask, does Mizzou need to schedule a full slate of “Power 5” programs right now?
No, they don’t. At this point, the Tigers will benefit from playing games which boost their confidence, after living through a couple losing seasons. That’s not to discredit Mizzou’s ability, but the human psyche plays as much a role in a team’s success or failure with winning and losing.
The more relevant fact is these opponents were likely scheduled while former head coach Gary Pinkel was in charge. Given another year or two, the caliber of opponent could change, since Odom has been head coach.
At the end of the day, Missouri still has to prepare for any opponent; it has to go out and play the opponent, game plan and make the right decisions to win the game. Regardless of how good the other team is, we can all be assured that the opposition isn’t just handing over the “W.” They’re playing for it, too.