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Deriving the "Difficulty of Schedule"

For the past few seasons, UGA has had to deal with pundits using the schedule meme to destroy the credibility the Bulldogs built on the field. All the while we got to listen to those pundits applaud the likes of Ohio State, Oregon, Stanford and Alabama. Well this year should not be that case, but there have been some already mentioning that UGA escapes playing Alabama and Texas A&M. So I decided to try to find a logical, numerical way to look at the Difficulty of Schedule for all of the teams in the SEC. Before I get to the results, allow me to explain the method of my madness accomplishing this. First I thought, what is a decent time frame to look at the performance of opponents? The past season, the past 3, the past 5...I ended up selecting the past 11 years (records included are from 2002-2012 inclusive). I figured that 11 years of performance would provide a decent measure of the willingness of a university to commit to the football program. Invest in the coaching staff, improve facilities to attract the higher caliber of athletes, make the tough decisions all in the name of improving football. So I then struck out to find the combined winning percentage of each opponent for the SEC teams. Not an easy task; finding 11 years of winning percentages for 168 teams (yeah I know there are many common opponents, but 168 teams sounds like I really invested in this, so go with me). I then took each opponents' wins, losses and ties (there was one tie since 2001), added all the wins, the total games and derived a total opponents' winning percentage and then ranked based on that percentage. My thought process was that the SEC teams that scheduled teams with an 11 year winning percentage higher than those opponents of other SEC teams would have a more difficult schedule. Below are my results from the "hardest schedule" to the "easiest" (SEC Team (combined opponent winning %):

Florida (0.603), Georgia (0.596), Mississippi State (0.590), LSU (0.581), Arkansas (0.580), Kentucky (0.579), Tennessee (0.576), Ole Miss (0.573), South Carolina (0.550), Alabama (0.547), Vanderbilt (0.542), Auburn (0.540), Texas A&M (0.536)and Missouri (0.512).

As I started to put my results to paper and really looking at the results I realized that I had committed one huge error. My results made the assumption that all football programs were created equal. My results gave the same credit to a team playing Georgia State or University of Tennessee at Chattanooga equal to that of another team playing Clemson, Georgia Southern or FSU. Well we all know that is not the case. All programs are not equal (not even in the SEC). So I had to find a way to credit or punish a team for the "quality" of their schedule. So here is how I solved that error.

First I took the combined opponent winning percentage and multiplied it by 10,000

Teams with opponents in the BCS AQ conferences (SEC, Big10, Big-12, Pac-12, ACC, Big East and Notre Dame) with winning percentages greater than 500 received no penalty.

Teams with opponents in the BCS AQ conferences with winning percentages less than 500 was given a 350 point penalty per opponent.

Teams with opponents in the BCS level, but not in the AQ conferences, with winning percentages greater than 500 were assessed a 500 point penalty per opponent. Let's face it; playing Houston (non AQ greater than 500) is easier than playing Mississippi State (AQ less than 500).

Teams with opponents in the BCS level, but not in the AQ conferences, with winning percentages less than 500 were assessed a 750 point penalty per opponent.

Teams with opponents in the FCS level with winning percentages greater than 500 were given a 1000 point penalty while those teams that elected to schedule a FCS opponent with a sub 500 11 year winning percentage were hit with a 1500 point penalty.

I then took the raw combined opponents' winning percentage, deducted all the penalties and below is the adjusted "Difficulty of Schedule" ranking (SEC Team (adjusted difficulty rating)):

Florida (3832.51), Georgia (3505.79), Mississippi State (2702.18), LSU (2607.51), South Carolina (2596.34), Tennessee (2311.26), Kentucky (2091.92), Arkansas (1852.92), Auburn (1843.26), Vanderbilt (1618.06), Ole Miss (1532.44), Missouri (1469.52), Alabama (1418.09), and Texas A&M (1405.95).

Would anyone like to use the above and predict the winner of the SEC? Before you do bear in mind that while Bama travels to Kyle Field, they have a bye week before both Texas A&M and LSU...

While I thought this solved my problem of the "Difficulty of Schedule" for the SEC, I knew that I would also get to hear it from the rest of the nation on how hard the other conferences schedules were, so I took the rest of the Top 10 (Ohio State, Oregon, Louisville, Stanford, Michigan and Notre Dame) from the ESPN Way Too Early Top 25 and followed the same procedure. Below is where the Top 10 and the SEC rank in Dawg2011's Difficulty of Schedule:

Florida (3832.51), Notre Dame (3703.49), Georgia (3505.79), Stanford (3193.78), Mississippi State (2702.18), LSU (2607.51), South Carolina (2596.34), Michigan (2554.01), Tennessee (2311.23), Oregon (2150.10), Kentucky (2091.92), Arkansas (1852.92), Auburn (1843.26), Vanderbilt (1618.06), Ole Miss (1532.44), Missouri (1469.52), Alabama (1418.09), Texas A&M (1405.95), Ohio State (1173.24) and Louisville (-2380.34).

Have fun and give me your thoughts below...and as always GO DAWGS


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