Why Hawaii Doesn't Deserve Sympathy for Its Easy Schedule
By Jeff Anderson
(October 30, 2007)
The Sporting News's Matt Hayes and others are lamenting the alleged injustice surrounding #33 (8-0) Hawaii's creampuff schedule. They cite Michigan's State's having pulled out of a scheduled game against the Warriors as evidence of a sad story emanating from the island.
Yes, this is the same Hawaii team that has played, by far, the easiest schedule in the country to date. Fully half of Hawaii’s games have been against teams that are currently ranked in the bottom-6 (#114 or worse) or are I-AA. What about the tough half of the Warriors’ schedule, you ask? Those games have been against teams ranked between #84 and #106.
Sure, playing Michigan St. would have helped; but the notion that Hawaii has been incapable of playing a schedule within .040 of any of the other 118 teams in the country, is ridiculous. Truthfully, any team would have been hard-pressed to post a sub-.300 schedule through the first 8 weeks if it had tried, since, all other things being equal, that schedule could have been surpassed by playing the #106 team (rating: .327) 8 times in a row. Notre Dame has played the toughest schedule to date—at .650, the Irish’s schedule has been .150 above an average schedule. At .298, Hawaii’s schedule has been .202 below an average schedule. In other words, Notre Dame’s schedule has not been anywhere near as tough as Hawaii’s has been easy.
Hawaii is not being dealt with unfairly. First off, Hawaii has one key advantage in scheduling: teams such as Washington (Hawaii’s final opponent) can play something akin to a bowl game by scheduling the Warriors, since playing a 13th game is permitted if it's at Hawaii (a point Hayes notes but still neglects).
Secondly, all of Hawaii’s scheduling woes cannot be blamed on Michigan State’s having bailed out. If Hawaii had played Michigan St. instead of I-AA Northern Colorado (the Spartans’ replacement), the Warriors would still have played the easiest or 2nd-easiest schedule to date out of the nation’s 119 teams.
Thirdly, Hawaii isn't being penalized for its schedule. It’s merely not being rewarded for fantasy quality wins that haven't actually transpired. There is no reason to believe that a team that has not beaten a top-80 team is itself a top-25 team, let alone a top-10 or top-2 team.
For margin-of-victory fans (which does not describe us), the Warriors' two toughest road game to date, at #91 San Jose St. and at #92 Louisiana Tech, resulted in two wins by a total of 8 points (45-44 and 42-35). It’s quite possibly to the Warriors’ benefit that they don’t play any road games versus the top-50.