Strength of Schedule Analysis: 2007
by Bill Donaldson
SCHEDULE DIFFICULTY INDEX FOR TOP 10 TEAMS IN THE 2007 COACHES PRE-SEASON POLL
Schedule strength index is calculated by awarding 10 points for scheduling the number one team in the pre-season coaches= poll, 9 points for the number two team, down to 1 point for the tenth ranked team. No points are awarded for scheduling teams ranked below 10 in the coaches= poll, and no schedule difficulty index is calculated for teams ranked below 10 in the coaches= poll. This simplistic system provides a general idea of the difficulty each team faces in attempting to go undefeated throughout the season.
As in the past, conference affiliation plays a major role in schedule strength. The top four teams in schedule strength are from the Southeastern Conference (SEC), as they were last year. In fact, if schedule strength ratings for the three SEC teams not ranked in the top ten in the coaches' poll were included among the top 10 for purposes of comparing schedule strength, they would be ranked second, third and fourth, making the seven teams in the SEC ranked 1 through 7. This results from three SEC teams being ranked among the top 4 in the coaches' poll, and each SEC team's being required to face each other SEC team twice, once during the regular season and once at the SEC Championship meet. When SEC teams venture outside the conference, they frequently include other top-ten-ranked teams, adding to the schedule strength of the conference.
There has been some discussion about the relevance of schedules. I know of no team that does not like to compete against the strongest teams available. Coaches tell me that strong competition helps prepare teams for the post-regular season competitions. And, of course, good competition helps meet attendance. But there can be no doubt that schedule strength influences the difficulty of going undefeated through the entire season -- a feat accomplished only four times in the history of NCAA competition -- by the teams who won the national championships in 1993, 1998, 1999, and 2006.
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