The AAC Is Not Better Than The MW, The BCS Cartel Is Alive & Well, Part II

Two weeks ago I detailed how the College Football Playoff and New Years Six Bowls were virtually-exactly the same as the BCS, only the barriers to entry for the “Group of Five” (Non-BCS) schools had only been loosened a bit.

Today I want to touch on the very, very wrong-notion that the American Athletic Conference is a far-superior conference when juxtaposed to the Mountain West Conference.

To get this out of the way up front, as far as the data is concerned, the AAC is now to the MW what the MWC was to the WAC before the latest mass-realignment hit the world of College Football.

The nature of the argument that the AAC is a far-superior conference to the Mountain West Conference is exactly the same as the nature of the argument that the Mountain West was superior to the Western Athletic Conference.

Both notions are completely false.

First of all: all conference winning percentages of all teams within a single conference (the AAC & MW Conference for example) will always be .500. Both of those conferences have twelve teams that each play eight conference games.

Before Out of Conference games are considered, “Strength of Schedule” is not possible to calculate because everybody beats everybody within their own conference and loses to everybody within their own conference. If there were no Out of Conference games the Sun Belt and it’s teams’ “Strength of Schedule” would be exactly the same as the SEC and it’s teams’ “Strength of Schedule” because everybody would be .500 against everybody, on average. If twelve teams all played eight games against each other their combined records would be 96-96, so simply winning games Out of Conferences makes or breaks a conference’s and it’s teams’ “Strength of Schedule.”

“Strength of Schedule” also doesn’t care if a team like Boise State loses to a team like a future top-10 Washington State-squad by three points in triple OT, or losses by 100 points. They are exactly the same as far as the data is concerned. Which is asinine, but also tragic. “Strength of Schedule” is only concerned with wins and loses. “Who did you play? And did you win or lose?” That’s it.

The teams with conferences that have the highest combined non-conference winning percentages will always have the highest “Strength of Schedule.” If you notice when you look up “Strength of Schedule” rankings, teams from the same conference are always bunched relatively close to one another because they effectively play the exact-same schedules. And it doesn’t matter who those teams play as long as they win. The only reason the SEC is considered the best conference in College Football is because they have the best Out of Conference winning percentage, but they objectively “don’t play anybody” (as SEC fans like to say) out of conference.

So too, the only reason the AAC is considered a better conference than the MW is because the conference on the East Coast has a better Out of Conference winning percentage when juxtaposed to the conference on the West Coast.

But let’s honestly take a look at the AAC’s and MW’s resumes that are really carried by three teams each; UCF, USF, Memphis, & Boise State, Fresno State, San Diego State. And remember, conference records don’t matter because the AAC’s record against itself is .500, likewise the MW’s record against itself is .500.

UCF beat:
-C-USA’s FIU
-Had their game against the ACC’s Georgia Tech cancelled (which helps their resume far more than actually having to play the game against a team that’s about three plays from being in the CFP discussion)
-A Maryland team that won’t finish the regular season above .500
-The FCS’s Austin Peay at home

That’s not a good resume.

USF beat:
-The MW’s SJSU who may be the worst team in the FBS and will likely finish the season 0-11 against the subdivision
-The FCS’s Stony Brook
-Illinois of the B1G who won’t go bowling, at home

That’s not a good resume.

Memphis beat:
-The Sun Belt’s Louisiana-Monroe who almost-certaily won’t finish the season above .500
-A UCLA team at home that almost-certainly won’t finish the season above .500
-The FCS’s Southern Illinois Salukis at home

That’s not a good resume.

Notice that none of those teams lost an Out of Conference game.

Boise State:
-Beat Troy who is up for NY6 Bowl consideration as a Sun Belt-contender and beat the CFP’s #19-ranked LSU Tigers on the road in “Death Valley”
-Took a Washington State team to triple overtime on the road, that is currently ranked #19 in the AP Poll, and was ranked as high as 8th in the AP Poll just four weeks after beating the Broncos
-Lost to a Virginia team that has an outside shot at winning the ACC with games against Miami and Virginia Tech coming up
-Blew-out a bad BYU team on the road

That’s an outstanding-resume when juxtaposed to the AAC’s top-3.

Fresno State:
-Beat the FCS’s Incarnate Word 66-0 at home.
-Lost to the Alabama Crimson Tide on the road, who currently sit at #2 in the CFP rankings
-Lost to the Washington Huskies on the road, who currently sit at #12 in the CFP rankings
-Beat a bad BYU team at home

That’s an outstanding-resume when juxtaposed to the AAC’s top-3.

San Diego State:
-Beat the FCS’s UC Davis at home.
-Beat the Arizona State Sun Devils on the road who are still in contention for the Pac 12 South
-Beat a Stanford Cardinal team that currently sits at #21 in the CFP Poll
-Beat a Northern Illinois team that is likely the second best team in the MAC.

That’s an outstanding-resume when juxtaposed to the AAC’s top-3. The only reason the AAC teams have a “better ‘Strength of Schedule'” is because they didn’t lose out of conference.

To pretend that the AAC’s top-3 are better than the MW’s top-3, not only is incorrect, but it punishes the MW-group for doing what College Football’s Power Structure is asking them to do: schedule harder than their competition.

The reason the SEC’s “Strength of Schedule” is so inflated is because they strategically schedule all their games to have the highest non-conference winning percentage as a conference, scheduling FCS teams and Sun Belt teams. The SEC, as a conference always has the highest “Strength of Schedule” because the only thing that matters for “Strength of Schedule” as far as the data is concerned (because all conferences always have .500 records against themselves) is Out of Conference records.

The SEC plays the worst Out of Conference schedules every year, and because of this they have the highest “Strength of Schedules.” They also know this, so they will keep strategically scheduling games, all of them home against FCS teams, Sun Belt teams, and Power 5 teams that don’t really stand a chance in the match-up offered to them. Once in a Blue Moon the SEC will schedule neutral site games, and sometimes schedules home-and-homes with Power 5 teams and the Boise State’s of the College Football World.

For example: #1 Georgia played the Sun Belt’s Appalachian State Mountaineers (that may not go bowling this year), the FCS’s Samford Bulldogs, and a barely-ranked Notre Dame Fighting Irish-squad coming off a 4-8 season that was really only ranked due to a media-narrative following their season-opening victory over a Temple team that will be lucky to go to a Bowl this season. It was nearly impossible for them to not go undefeated Out of Conference.

All this is to say:

Not having a playoff (and no the “College Football Playoff” is not a playoff) is asinine.

Follow me on Twitter @RobertJPfeifer.

(Featured Photo by Robert J Pfeifer)