Mississippi State AD Scott StricklinMississippi State has avoided playing a BCS conference team as a non-conference opponent for the past 3 years, and after this season that number will be 4.

MSU Athletic Director Scott Stricklin defended the Bulldogs scheduling preferences by saying that State has an incredibly tough conference schedule.

“Our overall strength of schedule, if you look at the computer rankings, I think is usually pretty high.”

Not only that, but Phil Steele has Mississippi State’s 2012 schedule ranked as the 38th toughest in the country. **State fans will argue that this should be enough to prove their worth even though Steele also has 10 other SEC schools schedules ranked ahead of them, including the current powerhouses of Ole Miss and Kentucky.

Just playing in the SEC and more specifically the SEC West appears to be enough for the Bulldogs for now.

“We’ve had 16 straight sellouts and we have a waiting list for tickets, so whatever we’re doing right now seems to be working from a fan perspective,” Stricklin said. “And we’ve been to two straight bowl games, so it’s working from trying to produce a consistent winner perspective.”

Two straight bowl games? The Bulldogs unwillingness to step out of a comfort zone hurts the SEC overall. Most SEC schools face at least one tough non-conference opponent every year.

Here is how the rest of the conference stepped up last season and what they have scheduled this season.

2011 2012
Alabama at Penn State Alabama vs Michigan
Arkansas vs Texas A&M Arkansas vs Rutgers
Auburn vs Clemson Auburn vs Clemson
Florida vs Florida State Florida at Florida State
Georgia vs Boise State – while not a BCS team, still a GOOD team Georgia vs Georgia Tech
Georgia vs Georgia Tech Kentucky at Louisville
Kentucky vs Louisville LSU vs Washington
LSU vs Oregon Missouri vs Arizona State
LSU at West Virginia Missouri vs Syracuse
Ole Miss vs BYU – good enough program Ole Miss vs Texas
South Carolina vs Clemson South Carolina at Clemson
Tennessee vs Cincinnati Tennessee vs NC State
Vanderbilt vs Connecticut Vanderbilt at Wake Forest
Vanderbilt at Wake Forest

The exception this season is Texas A&M, who would normally be playing Arkansas out of conference but will now be facing them in the SEC West.

Now why is it that Mississippi State is afraid to schedule BCS conference opponents outside of the SEC? From 2006 to 2009, the Bulldogs have faced only one non-SEC BCS opponent and the last time the Bulldogs beat a non-SEC BCS team was Oklahoma State in 1999.

Not only that, the Bulldogs schedules through 2016 do not contain any BCS schools outside of the SEC.

“When the day comes when strength of schedule is used to determine – I guess it’s kind of used right now in the BCS formula – when we get to the point where that’s a concern for us, we’re going to make sure we take care of that piece of it,” said Stricklin.

Yes, Mississippi State will face a decent in-state school in Southern Miss in 2014 and 2015, but the Golden Eagles are not in a BCS conference.

The SEC proves to be the toughest conference year in and year out, but when schools don’t face one non-conference BCS opponent, it doesn’t seem to help those arguments.

Mississippi State cupcakes - by @cfbsection

Cupcakes taste good.

** Phil Steele’s 2012 overall strength of schedule rankings for SEC – 2. Ole Miss, 5. Florida, 8. Texas A&M, 10. Kentucky, 13. South Carolina, 17. Auburn, 18. Arkansas, 19. Missouri, 28. Alabama, 29. LSU, 38. Mississippi State, 46. Tennessee.

[djournal, fbschedules]

UPDATE: Apologies to Bulldog nation, Mississippi State did face Georgia Tech in 2009. Make that two years, 3 after this season and 7 after 2016. Carry on.

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COMMENTS

  • John Muscles

    Not so fast. The article is a little shaky in judgement. FIrst it goes on to make cases of exception for both Ole Miss and Georgia (playing against BYU and Boise State respectively) in that although they are not BCS programs they are still good programs. And then go on to knock State for playing Southern Miss in 2014. Wait a minute – didn’t Southern have an AMAZING streak last year, and also defeat Houston last year? I think the author is really underestimating Southern Miss’s formidability over there in the Sun Conference. They could definitely hang with BYU and Boise. So why all the hate for State? Oh yeah – and let’s remember we saw them knock the mess out of Michigan n that bowl game a year ago, anyway.

    • Michael

      Which is why I included this year also as Ole Miss faces Texas and Georgia faces Georgia Tech annually.

      I also credited State for playing Southern Miss over the next two years, but they are not in a BCS conference and who is to say they’ll be any good without Fedora.

      The overall point was that State hasn’t and WON’T play a BCS conference opponent outside the SEC through 2016.

  • Coach34

    Michigan and Wake Forest must have left the Big 10 and ACC…

    • Michael

      Weren’t scheduled by choice, but thanks.

    • Disasterpiece

      My thinking too. “and the last time the Bulldogs beat a non-SEC BCS team was Oklahoma State in 1999.”

  • http://twitter.com/DearOldState Hail Dear Old State (@DearOldState)

    What’s the point with this? MSU fans are happy with the schedule. Cupcakes equal wins. And wins taste better than OOC-BCS losses. When we were 5-7 with loses to Ga Tech and Houston, I don’t remember anyone patting us on the back for taking one for the league.

    And newsflash: State fans could give f*** all if our schedule “hurts the SEC overall.” We’re trying to build a program from the ground up, not pad the resume of other SEC schools.

    When our poor SOS starts to hurt us, I’m sure we’ll address it, but for now I say bring on the cupcakes.

    • http://gravatar.com/ddaydawg ddaydawg

      It is obviously hurting the SEC, I mean look at the National Title game. Man, we cost the SEC a chance to… uh… wtf is this guy talking about?

      I have no clue who “Michael” is but real journalists use their whole name. This article is a joke.

  • Hulkbuster

    Wait, u tell me another team in the nation OOC that played 4 (yes I said 4) top 10 teams and the SEC east champion all in 1 season and still go to a decent bowl. Wha? Can u do it? Get the 17 out of here!

    • Michael

      Please name these 4 teams because State finished the season with only 3 top 10 teams. When State played UGA they were 2-3 and unranked, and like I said, you are all missing the point. Yes, the SEC is tough, but State refuses to schedule OOC BCS teams. The argument speaks for itself. No need to fight about in the SEC as I already proclaimed that as the toughest, not to mention the SEC West.

      And if you want, I can go into listing teams that are in other conferences that faced tougher overall schedules by ranking, but again, that wasn’t my argument at all.

    • Spreaddawg

      State played 5 Top 25 teams and 4 top 10 teams according to the AP- Bama- #1, LSU- #2, Arkansas #5, South Carolina- #9, and Georgia- #19. National Champion Alabama only played 3 top 25 teams- LSU twice and Arkansas. Now then, who is pulling the conference down with an easy schedule? You need to find something new to bitch about.

    • Michael

      Bama has a BCS championship to back up their schedule, that according to Sagarin, was tougher than Miss States.

    • Spreaddawg

      Bama’s NC has nothing to do with this- thats about having 5-star players. Sagarin rankings are subjective. I just gave you cold, hard facts and killed your entire argument. State played more top 10 teams and more top 25 teams than Bama did- fact. State played 7 bowl teams- Bama played 7 bowl teams-fact. So to recap- State played a tougher schedule in 2011 than Alabama did, You even left off we played Ga Tech in 2009. You just wrote a crappy article and got called on it with actual facts.

    • Michael

      You didn’t kill any argument at all but it’s nice that you think so.

      The fact remains that State refuses to play OOC BCS teams. /End

  • Jon

    As Hulkbuster mentioned – The in-conference schedule was more than enough to offset the need to play OOC BCS teams.

    Teams from other conferences should not get kudos for simply playing “BCS” teams if they are lower tiered.

    MSU would gladly trade a Bama, Auburn, Georgia, LSU for an Iowa State, Washington State, BC, etc…

  • Jon

    To follow up…

    Why is it considered better to play a cupcake conference schedule with one mid-level BCS team than to play a conference slate with 25% of the top-10 adding OOC cupcakes????

    • Michael

      Not sure where you got 25% of top 10 playing OOC cupcakes.

      1. Bama-Penn St
      2. LSU-Oregon/WVU
      3. Ok St-Arizona
      4. Oregon-LSU
      5. Arkansas-TexasA&M
      6. USC-Syracuse/Minnesota/Notre Dame
      7. Stanford-Notre Dame
      8. Boise State-UGA
      9. South Carolina-Clemson
      10. Wisconsin-Oregon State

      Now whether or not you believe all of those teams are “cupcakes” makes no difference to me because my only point was that they were scheduled games against BCS conference teams, whether or not they are at the bottom of their conference.

  • snippy

    Hell I can’t blame them. Why would they? They already play in the toughest division in CFB. Having to put up with LSU, Bama and Arkansas every year is enough, but considering the shape their program was in the past decade, scheduling non-conference BCSers would just be stupid if you’re trying to build momentum.

  • engie

    The first line in this whole article is factually incorrect, since State played Georgia Tech in the 2009 season and stayed home during bowl season because of it.

    In the past 3 seasons according to Sagarin, State has played the #1, #30, and #28 SOS. Average SOS inside the top 20.

    Try harder…

    • Michael

      Don’t really think I have to try harder. Here’s Sagarin’s ratings for the years you listed. Where is the rest of the SEC? In 2009 4 of the top 5 schedules were SEC schools. All were inside 50, and 10 were inside 25.

      2009
      Mississippi State 1
      Alabama 2
      South Carolina 4
      LSU 5
      Georgia 7
      Arkansas 12
      Auburn 17
      Florida 15
      Vanderbilt 20
      Tennessee 21
      Kentucky 35
      Ole Miss 46

      2010
      Arkansas 11
      South Carolina 12
      Auburn 13
      Alabama 14
      LSU 15
      Florida 21
      Mississippi State 30
      Ole Miss 34
      Georgia 36
      Vanderbilt 42
      Tennessee 43
      Kentucky 63

      2011
      LSU 7
      Ole Miss 9
      Tennessee 12
      Auburn 14
      Alabama 15
      Arkansas 20
      Florida 22
      Georgia 23
      Vanderbilt 27
      Mississippi State 28
      South Carolina 32
      Kentucky 41

  • engie

    So, what is the overall argument? That a team that plays a top loaded schedule in the toughest current division in the HISTORY of college football should schedule more potential losses? It’s a straw man argument. State’s average SOS is inside the top 20, right in the middle of the SEC pack, yet you think they should schedule more potential OOC losses, at the risk of missing bowl games? Do a little research into the past 20 years of State scheduling, and you’ll see WHY we think scheduling tough OOC games is a bad idea. What do we have to show for all those tough games? Nothing. Absolutely nothing.

    SOS(average) 2009-2011
    LSU – 9
    Alabama – 13.7
    Arkansas – 14.3
    Auburn – 14.7
    South Carolina – 16
    Florida – 19.3
    Mississippi State – 19.7
    Georgia – 22
    Tennessee – 25.3
    Ole Miss – 29.7
    Vanderbilt – 29.7
    Kentucky – 46.3

    • Michael

      There are cupcakes in other BCS leagues, see the whole Big East for example, but the fact that Stricklin defended playing non-BCS schools by using SOS is the sole reason the article was written. The rest of the SEC has a tough SOS too, but they are stepping out.

      What gives?

  • engie

    Why does the “bcs conference” designation that technically doesn’t even exist anymore matter?

    We played Houston in 2009 and 2010. How were we to know that Case Keenum would go down in 2010? Any other season, that’s a tough OOC game.

    We’ve sold out every home game for the past 2.5 seasons. Why would we accept an extra road game against a “BCS” opponent if it sells ZERO more tickets to games in Starkville, when we could do 2-for-1′s with lower level teams and essentially add an additional home game every season?

    We will schedule tougher when it makes sense as a program. Right now, it doesn’t. Once bowl eligibility becomes an afterthought for us, you’ll see it happen. AKA: there are already negotiations with KState for a home and home in the near future.

  • MemphisMaroonClubDog

    Wait. You qualify Alabama’s lesser schedule with their “BCS Championship” argument…. Yet, you give no credit to MSU beating Michigan? Did Alabama schdule the BCSCG? You really are trying too hard in this… Tell us what your true agenda is with your hatred of MSU. Dan Mullen make fun of your sister or something in Oxford?

    • Michael

      No hate for State here man. Come back throughout the season and you’ll find the opposite as a matter of fact. Trust me on that one.

      Again, most of you guys are making this out to be some agenda when all I did was point out that State schedules non-BCS OOC opponents instead of facing at least one, whether they are bottom of their conference or not. Schedule Duke, Syracuse, etc and this goes away.

      Seems only State fans are the ones defending the scheduling anyway. If the rest of the SEC feels the same way I’ll run a retraction, but I doubt you’ll get a positive reaction out of the rest of the conference on the weakness of States OOC attempts.

  • MemphisMaroonClubDog

    You must be enraged over Kentucky’s schedule… oh wait. you are just concentrating on MSU… Its just such a lame argument. But, you have done what you set out for. You got us all here talking about it. If you are trying to make a living at being a sports journalist, please do not speak of this theory of yours again though. You will not find many schools in this country that would trade places with MSU’s schedule. Thank you and Good night, Michael. Go take your afternoon nap… Gonna be a long night in the chatrooms

  • Michael

    You’re a moron. That easy OOC schedule is obviously doing what it’s supposed to do…..It’s helping us get to bowl games, get great recruits, sell out our stadium, and piss off the likes of you because we’re winning at a consistent rate. It’s amazing how this article just happens to pop up the year Ole Miss’s strength of schedule moves up from worst to first. Find something else to complain about, because with the SEC schedule, MSU would be crazy to schedule a tough OOC. Ole Miss will learn that the next few seasons. Nobody is going to care that they went 2-10 but played the #2 schedule in the country. But if it makes people happy, then congrats! You suck and got beaten by better teams than the crappy ones that beat you last year!

    • Michael

      One other thing….you’re just trying to gain readers, I get it….but don’t try to stir the pot with some lame article to do it. Are more readers important to you even if they all think you’re a joke? I would think not. Your little “come back throughout the season and see” comment didn’t go unnoticed. If your name is Jeremiah Short just own it.

  • Sixpackmafia

    Part of being an objective journalist is seeing both sides of a pony of view…if you can’t see MSUs pOV, look back to MSU 2009, and watch ole miss and Norte dame this year…..this article is amateurish….but it achieved it’s goal…tons of hits……I should go into this guys profession…..really easy….

    • Sixpackmafia

      17n spellcheck…

  • Michael

    @Michael “Your little “come back throughout the season and see” comment didn’t go unnoticed.”

    Glad you noticed. There will be positive stuff about State up here throughout the season. I like Dan Mullen.

  • Hail Dear Old State (@DearOldState)

    “Michael,” name one reason why State should change their schedule that is a positive for Mississippi State.

  • @PinkBelt

    Why are Mississippi State fans defending not scheduling BCS teams during non-conference play? You pay for the tickets. Don’t you want to watch games that are worth the price of admission? I don’t understand how you are doing yourselves any favors with the we need to schedule 4 easy games to qualify for a bowl argument. Don’t you want to play the best competition you can. Who wants to settle for playing lesser competition because it assures you wins?