Strength of schedule has always been a major factor for consideration for teams looking to earn respect and chances to win the big games. With the playoffs system finally being instated this season in the NCAA, it looks like strength of schedule might become more important than ever.
This week, Michigan State head coach Mark Dantonio talked with ESPN.com for an interview about his thoughts for college football switching over to the playoff system, as opposed to the BCS rankings system that has plagued fans and analysts for years.
The Spartans are seeing unparalleled success on the field in the Big Ten Conference, with a 13-1 season and a victory in the 100th annual Rose Bowl, and Dantonio feels like the time is right for MSU to start lining up the big games.
"I think it will impact scheduling in terms of teams having to take on a little bit tougher schedule, to be honest with you,'' Dantonio said in an ESPN.com interview. "I think you'll have schedules that are formatted to the strength of schedule, hopefully.
"They are going to recognize if you play a bigger opponent in your first four games, and I think that as the situation continues down the road, that people are probably going to be mandated into that at some point.''
Michigan State opens this season on Aug. 29 against Jacksonville State, but follows that up with a huge match up against the universal preseason top 10-pick in the Oregon Ducks in Eugene, Oregon.
A committee for the new playoff system has pledged to take into account a team's strength of schedule, especially within their first four games, when making selections for the playoff system that will eventually lead to a national champion. If this is the overall case, the Spartans are really putting their eggs in this basket, with MSU set to host Oregon next season before following up with home-and-home series with Notre Dame (2016-17) and Arizona State (2018-19).
Dantonio also discussed his admiration for the Big Ten Championship game, which, in theory, should give the Spartans (should they win it) a leg up on other teams whose conferences don't have a championship game. Another win against a top competing team in your conference is just another feather in your metaphorical cap, according to the coach.
"You take a risk when you play in a conference championship,'' Dantonio said. "You take a risk of losing and moving backwards, so coming out of that situation, that should be weighted as well.
"My opinion is that if you don't win a (league) championship, you don't really belong in that game.''
A winner takes all approach according to the Spartans' coach.
You can follow MSU writer, Michael Ferro, at twitter.com/MichaelFerro.