The search for a replacement for West Virginia is finally over as a matchup with Savannah State on September 8th has been announced. Savannah State is a division 1-AA opponent and will be the second D1-AA school on the Florida State schedule. That means the ‘Noles must win 7 games to become bowl eligible instead of the usual 6 games. However, given the talent and expectations of this team, becoming bowl eligible isn’t much of a concern.
There seems to be a bit of backlash from fans resulting from Florida State’s decision to play Savannah State next season. However, I don’t think that type of backlash is warranted given the situation the ‘Noles were in. Due to the fact that West Virginia waitied until the last moment to back out of the game with FSU next season, most BCS schools already had their 2012 schedules completely set by the time the ‘Noles began searching for an opponent.
As for those BCS schools who did have a week available for the ‘Noles, there was another issue that existed. Florida State didn’t want to play another non-conference game on the road. Currently, the 2013 matchup at West Virginia is still in place (although I highly doubt this game will be played either). Also, the ACC will be moving to a 9-game conference schedule beginning as early as the 2013 season once Pittsburgh and Syracuse officially join the conference. Once that happens, there will be seasons when FSU is forced to play 5 road ACC games. Add to that the fact Florida State will be playing at Florida in 2013 and you see why Florida State can’t afford to play another game on the road in 2013.
There are three ways around playing another non-conference road game in 2013:
- Find a D1-A opponent that’ll travel to Tallahassee in 2012 and not receive a return trip. This is what Florida State was trying to do when they reached out teams. However, none of the D1-A schools would bite on the offer and who could blame them? Why would a school want to travel to Tallahassee and not have a return trip from the ‘Noles? Schools like Boise State and Oklahoma were among those who declined the offer.
- Have the home-and-home series be played on the road in 2012 and in Tallahassee in 2013. The reason why Florida State didn’t want to do this is because losing the West Virginia game is already expected to cost Florida State up to $2 million in ticket sales. Plus, scheduling a road game will hurt the local economy that relies on Florida State home games as a benefitial boost. Hosting a game against a D1-AA will at least generate some ticket sales and help the local economy more than a road game. Even if only 70,000 fans attend the game, it’ll still bring in nearly $3 million in ticket sales.
- The third and final option is what Florida State was forced to go with: host a D1-AA school in Tallahassee in place of West Virginia. With all the D1-A options gone, Florida State had to make the move of scheduling a second D1-AA opponent and that’s when they found Savannah State.
Given the situation Florida State was in, the ‘Noles did the second best thing they could have done. I believe scheduling a weak D1-A program such as Louisiana-Monroe or Akron would have been the best option, but the ‘Noles weren’t able to find an available team willing to play.
Scheduling Savannah State was still smarter than scheduling an Oklahoma or West Virginia caliber team.If you don’t believe me, take a look at what happened last season. The game against Oklahoma virtually cost Florida State a shot at the national title as well as a shot at the ACC championship all in one weel. The entire Florida State offense took a major beating against Oklahoma that ended up costing the team against Clemson and Wake Forest.
However, a team like Virginia Tech played Appalachian State, East Carolina, Arkansas State and Marshall for it’s non-conference schedule. Despite losing to Clemson twice in 2011, the Hokies still managed to receive a BCS at-large bid despite the weak schedule. The current BCS formula simply does not reward tough scheduling. Voters seem to only care about wins and losses rather than strength of schedule.
Here’s a great example of how strength of schedule has been meaningless in deciding the BCS national championship matchup. Among the teams that were ranked 3rd in the BCS standings heading into bowl season, TCU in 2010 is the only team that had a worse SOS than the team ranked 2nd.
- 2007: #3 Virginia Tech SOS: 39th (2nd place SOS: 40th)
- 2008: #3 Texas SOS: 6th (2nd place SOS: 20th)
- 2009: #3 Cincy SOS: 46th (2nd place SOS: 47th)
- 2011: #3 Oklahoma State SOS:4th (2nd place SOS: 16th)
There remains some fear in fans that if FSU were to go undefeated, they could be passed up in the national championship by two other undefeated teams. Since 2002, there has only been two seasons when three BCS teams have gone undefeated in the same season. It happened in 2004 when undefeated Auburn failed to make the national championship game and in 2009 when undefeated Cincinnati missed out on the national championship (and it was already pointed out the Cincy had a tougher SOS than the #2 ranked team).
So having Savannah State replace West Virginia on the 2012 schedule should not make reaching a national title game anymore difficult for the ‘Noles. The biggest nagatives in the schedule change are money and excitment, two things West Virginia would have brought with it when it came to Tallahassee.