It isn’t a new concept for top teams to schedule non-conference games against some of the worst programs available.
The powerhouses get to run up the score, often in excess of seventy points, in exchange for a couple hundred thousand dollars for the lesser team’s athletic budget.
Savannah State, and more notoriously their powerhouse opponents, have made the headlines recently for exactly this.
Representing the MEAC, the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference, Savannah State is an FCS school from a conference where the best teams are Bethune-Cookman and Norfolk State. So the Tigers are just the kind of team that attracts teams at the top of the AP poll in early September.
In their season opener, Savannah State was run off of the field in an 84-0 drubbing against #19 Oklahoma State. It was 35-0 by the end of the first quarter. The Cowboys collected 682 total yards to Savannah State’s 139.
In Week 2, the Tigers had it easy. The only lost 55-0 to #5 Florida State. And that was only because the game was called due to bad weather in the middle of the third quarter. Once again, the Tigers were losing by 35 at the end of the first quarter.
Savannah State’s offense was pathetic. They accumulated 28 total yards. Antonio Bostick, the quarterback of Savannah State, was 2/15 for 9 yards.
Luckily, for the sake of Savannah State’s self-confidence, record, and health of their players, they ran the gauntlet with enough players still healthy enough that they can field a team for the MEAC portion of their schedule.
Savannah State also pocketed $860,000 by taking the beatings. Yes, that money can do a lot in terms of scholarships, paying employees’ salaries, and for upkeep of the athletic facilities, but the question needs to be asked: Is it really worth it for bad teams to sell themselves out like this?
According to the Atlanta Blackstar, Savannah State’s athletic budget is $5.1 million. The school made almost seventeen percent of its annual budget from its two blowouts. That is the only beneficial or productive aspect of these deals.
What else is gained?
As college football fans, we find out that the best teams can put up triple-digits of scoring against the worst teams if their starters played for four quarters. Oh boy!
After Savannah State lost to Oklahoma State and Florida State, we know that OSU and FSU are really good and Savannah State is really bad. But anyone with limited knowledge of college football could have told you that.
Other than money, there was no reason for those matchups. They are all college football programs, but they are on completely different levels.
If the AP top 25 is looking for teams they can steamroll, I’ll nominate my alma mater. St. Xavier High School would love an extra $800,000 for scholarships and to be able to expand their athletic facilities. The college teams would destroy St. X and no one would learn anything from the matchup but at least they would get the money.
What would make a matchup between Florida State and St. Xavier High School any different than Florida State and Savannah State?
If the best teams want to make it to the BCS National Championship or a good bowl game, schedule respectable teams and beat them. If they are as good as they think, then they shouldn’t have a problem winning their non-conference games.
I have a lot of respect for Michigan and Alabama for arranging a matchup in the opening week of the season. College football fans don’t love the sport and the culture because of 84-0 victories. It may be fun to see how many points a team can score in a total mismatch, but after the first quarter the game is essentially over.
If teams really want to go into conference play undefeated, schedule a game against Boise State, BYU, or Cincinnati. An AP top 25 team should have no problem defeating some of the teams from the power six conferences who are on the outside of the rankings. Make the matchup at least somewhat interesting.
Not only could a win against a formidable opponent improve a team’s ranking, but it could go a long way in a team’s overall resume when it comes down to deciding which teams make which bowl games.