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Soft vs Hard Schedule - Which is Best?
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IR4CU Offline
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Post: #1
Soft vs Hard Schedule - Which is Best?
Several years ago, there was much discussion about how conferences with tougher football schedules prepared their teams better for success during bowl games. The premise was that teams that played softer schedules were ill prepared when they got to a bowl game and played an opponent with a similar record but who had played a harder schedule. This was the age old idea of "iron sharpening iron".

Now it seems that the narrative has changed to the teams playing the softer schedule having the advantage during bowl/playoff season due to encountering less "wear and tear" on their players during the regular season and thus having fresher players and/or fewer injuries.

So, I put the question to the board ......... which is the best way to prepare for winning bowl or playoff games, play a soft schedule or a hard schedule?

My personal opinion is you need some of both. If you play nothing but cupcakes each and every game, your team is never tested and has no idea how to respond in evenly contested games during the bowls/playoffs. On the other hand, if you play a steady diet of top tier teams, you probably do stand a chance of more wear and tear and injuries since your starters have to play more minutes.

BTW ....... I think that it goes without saying that the team with the softer schedule is more likely to have a bettor record and enhance their chances of making the playoffs or going to a higher rated bowl. But, this is also a double edged sword, as the team with the softer schedule has less room for error when it comes to bowl or playoff selection.
04-19-2019 04:40 PM
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georgia_tech_swagger Offline
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Post: #2
RE: Soft vs Hard Schedule - Which is Best?
It's all about timing and balance. You want the first two weeks easy to get game reps and gel as a team. If you're playing a brutal away schedule you want more gimmes at home. As long as you play in a conference with a championship game I don't think you have to worry about proving yourself in a tough place on the road so much anymore. When it counts (CFP time) a championship win should show you the ability to win away from home.
04-19-2019 04:44 PM
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Pervis_Griffith Offline
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Post: #3
RE: Soft vs Hard Schedule - Which is Best?
Somewhere in the middle is probably best.

But I think that the original question should be focused more on playoff games, as I think bowl games will become less and less important as the playoff field grows. We are already seeing kids with NFL aspirations skip their bowl game -- a smart decision in my opinion.

For playoff teams, you need a schedule tough enough to get you into the playoffs. But not so brutal as to wear you down once you get there.

I think this will change as the playoffs grow -- and that's only a matter of time, in my opinion.
04-20-2019 12:02 PM
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Dr. Isaly von Yinzer Offline
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Post: #4
RE: Soft vs Hard Schedule - Which is Best?
A soft schedule is way better than a hard schedule. There’s no doubt about it. I don’t know that it prepares you any better for bowl season, but so what?

Last year, Pitt won the Coastal division and normally that would be cause for at least some celebration. However, Pitt finished with a losing record in part because it’s non-divisional opponents included Notre Dame, Penn State, Clemson, Stanford and UCF.

How did that help Pitt?

I would’ve much rather played a much weaker OOC schedule and we would’ve finished 10–4 or something like that, and the perception would be radically different.
04-20-2019 08:44 PM
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georgia_tech_swagger Offline
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RE: Soft vs Hard Schedule - Which is Best?
(04-20-2019 08:44 PM)Dr. Isaly von Yinzer Wrote:  A soft schedule is way better than a hard schedule. There’s no doubt about it. I don’t know that it prepares you any better for bowl season, but so what?

Last year, Pitt won the Coastal division and normally that would be cause for at least some celebration. However, Pitt finished with a losing record in part because it’s non-divisional opponents included Notre Dame, Penn State, Clemson, Stanford and UCF.

How did that help Pitt?

I would’ve much rather played a much weaker OOC schedule and we would’ve finished 10–4 or something like that, and the perception would be radically different.

It's called the Bill Snyder plan.
04-20-2019 09:44 PM
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XLance Offline
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Post: #6
RE: Soft vs Hard Schedule - Which is Best?
I know that football and basketball are different.
Carolina almost always has one of the ten toughest schedules in basketball and it hasn't hurt their winning percentage or advancement in the post-season. So in that regard a harder schedule with a good program is not a hindrance.
Football is a little different because the number a games does not allow recovery after a few missteps.
(This post was last modified: 04-23-2019 02:44 PM by XLance.)
04-21-2019 01:57 PM
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TexanMark Offline
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Post: #7
RE: Soft vs Hard Schedule - Which is Best?
For almost all ACC schools you need to bake in 3 automatic OOC wins. The other game is optional in my mind as to how tough you want it depending on your school's situation.

The goal should be 6-6 at worse and be able to play an extra game.
04-22-2019 06:24 AM
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Hokie Mark Offline
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Post: #8
RE: Soft vs Hard Schedule - Which is Best?
(04-22-2019 06:24 AM)TexanMark Wrote:  For almost all ACC schools you need to bake in 3 automatic OOC wins. The other game is optional in my mind as to how tough you want it depending on your school's situation.

The goal should be 6-6 at worse and be able to play an extra game.

+1. THIS!
04-22-2019 08:27 AM
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Lou_C Online
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Post: #9
RE: Soft vs Hard Schedule - Which is Best?
Unless you are a legit playoff contender, there is almost zero risk and all upside to the softest schedule you can create. Which means there is one team only at the moment in the ACC that should be "challenging" themselves, to hedge against the position of being head to head for the fourth playoff spot with a similar team.

Everyone else should be trying to get to 9-10 wins by any means possible. It literally always works. There is no downside, unless you care about message board jabs. But go ahead and let 5-7 Illinois fans jab 10 win Syracuse...who the hell cares?

This isn't even debatable, nothing means more than wins, until you are a real playoff hopeful, and then you want a medium-soft schedule instead of ultra soft.
04-23-2019 02:15 PM
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ChrisLords Offline
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Post: #10
RE: Soft vs Hard Schedule - Which is Best?
(04-23-2019 02:15 PM)Lou_C Wrote:  Unless you are a legit playoff contender, there is almost zero risk and all upside to the softest schedule you can create. Which means there is one team only at the moment in the ACC that should be "challenging" themselves, to hedge against the position of being head to head for the fourth playoff spot with a similar team.

Everyone else should be trying to get to 9-10 wins by any means possible. It literally always works. There is no downside, unless you care about message board jabs. But go ahead and let 5-7 Illinois fans jab 10 win Syracuse...who the hell cares?

This isn't even debatable, nothing means more than wins, until you are a real playoff hopeful, and then you want a medium-soft schedule instead of ultra soft.

Well, Starting in 2025, VT will be taking the soft out of conference scheduling route.

We will go from:
2019 - Notre Dame
2020 - Penn State
2021 - Notre Dame, WVU
2022 - WVU
2023 - Purdue, Rutgers
2024 - Rutgers, Wisconsin
2025 - Wisconsin, Penn State

to :
2026 - BYU, Maryland
2027 - Maryland, Notre Dame
2028 - Notre Dame, Maryland
2029 - Maryland, Arizona
2030 - Arizona, BYU
2031 TBD
2032 TBD
2033 Notre Dame
2034 TBD
2035 TBD
2036 Sep. 1 Notre Dame (Labor Day)

We go from 1 or 2 attractive OOC opponents every year (except 2023), to 2 non-attractive opponents every year OOC. Basically we'll play Notre Dame and no one else of merit OOC from now on.
(This post was last modified: 04-23-2019 02:47 PM by ChrisLords.)
04-23-2019 02:39 PM
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Hokie Mark Offline
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Post: #11
Exclamation RE: Soft vs Hard Schedule - Which is Best?
(04-23-2019 02:39 PM)ChrisLords Wrote:  
(04-23-2019 02:15 PM)Lou_C Wrote:  Unless you are a legit playoff contender, there is almost zero risk and all upside to the softest schedule you can create. Which means there is one team only at the moment in the ACC that should be "challenging" themselves, to hedge against the position of being head to head for the fourth playoff spot with a similar team.

Everyone else should be trying to get to 9-10 wins by any means possible. It literally always works. There is no downside, unless you care about message board jabs. But go ahead and let 5-7 Illinois fans jab 10 win Syracuse...who the hell cares?

This isn't even debatable, nothing means more than wins, until you are a real playoff hopeful, and then you want a medium-soft schedule instead of ultra soft.

Well, Starting in 2025, VT will be taking the soft out of conference scheduling route.

We will go from:
2019 - Notre Dame
2020 - Penn State
2021 - Notre Dame, WVU
2022 - WVU
2023 - Purdue, Rutgers
2024 - Rutgers, Wisconsin
2025 - Wisconsin, Penn State

to :
2026 - BYU, Maryland
2027 - Maryland, Notre Dame
2028 - Notre Dame, Maryland
2029 - Maryland, Arizona
2030 - Arizona, BYU
2031 TBD
2032 TBD
2033 Notre Dame
2034 TBD
2035 TBD
2036 Sep. 1 Notre Dame (Labor Day)

We go from 1 or 2 attractive OOC opponents every year (except 2023), to 2 non-attractive opponents every year OOC. Basically we'll play Notre Dame and no one else of merit OOC from now on.

I don't like it, but is it really VT's fault? It takes 2 to tango... who really wants to dance with the Hokies (and risk getting their feet stepped on)?

I blame the CFP for not keeping their promise - they have NOT valued SoS over wins and losses. In fact, they've shown that the ONLY thing that matters to them - just like in the BCS days - is fewest losses. How hard or soft the schedule - doesn't seem to matter at all (except to keep out the G5 teams).
04-23-2019 03:18 PM
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