Charlie Strong said he won't argue for a better BCS ranking for Louisville.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – Politics are not in Charlie Strong's DNA. He will not argue that his University of Louisville football team deserves more love than the ninth spot in the latest Bowl Championship Series rankings.
Strong wants me – and other local media members – to serve as campaign managers for Louisville. At least that's what he said, with only a small pinch of kidding. I think.
"I think it's your job to politic," Strong said. "You guys have the ink, so you can write more."
"I'm being serious about that. For me, to say they (college football poll voters) should do this or do this, I still look at it where we can improve. Whereas, writers when they write about your program can say, 'Hey, this team is where it is right now because of these reasons.' "
Got it. Here's my speech: Win the next three games – and do it with gusto.
That's all that matters for the Cardinals.
Doesn't matter if you're ranked ninth, sixth or fourth. The only two BCS numbers that matter are the top two – and those exalted spots are in an area code Louisville cannot dial this season.
Strong has done Coach of the Year work. Three years ago, before he took over, Louisville won one Big East game by one point – against the Syracuse program the Cards will play at the Carrier Dome Saturday.
But Strong knows what is at work here. If he has forgotten, all he needs to do is reflect on three years ago when he accepted the Louisville job. Before he was here full time, Strong finished his work as the Florida defensive coordinator. His final game was a Sugar Bowl meeting against the last unbeaten Big East champion – Cincinnati.
Florida led, 37-3. The Gators won, 51-24. Strong reminded his first group of Louisville players about the talent gap between the best of the Big East and the best of the SEC several times after he settled into the Louisville job.
So just win the next three. Do that and you'll become only the second unbeaten Big East champion in the last seven seasons. Kick the Big East all you like, but rolling through any league without a loss isn't easy.
Bobby Petrino couldn't do it. Cincinnati (2009, with Brian Kelly coaching) is the only Big East program to do it in the last seven seasons. Even mighty West Virginia failed.
One more thing: Win these games against Syracuse, Connecticut and Rutgers with an eye on the scoreboard. Margin of victory and strength of schedule are the primary reasons that people are not gaga your 9-0 record.
I compared the margin of victory of the Top 10 BCS teams. Louisville's is the tiniest at 11.7. Alabama, Oregon and Kansas State, three other unbeatens, are winning their games at more than twice that number. Even Notre Dame, an ordinary offensive team, has an average victory margin of 15.
The Cardinals need to finish by overwhelming teams the way they overwhelmed Temple, 45-17, Saturday. Margin of victory is not supposed to matter. It does.
Get to 12-0 and you'll get your reward. It won't be the Bowl Championship Series title game – even if Louisville is one of only two unbeatens.
There's not enough juice in Louisville's schedule. Sorry.
I checked the four BCS computer formulas that include a strength of schedule component. These were the numbers for Louisville: 105, 111, 126, 100.
Nothing better than 100. That's a problem the Cardinals won't be able to overcome with stump speeches or sports columns.
But get to 12-0. Then beat a team from the Atlantic Coast or Southeastern conference in a bowl game. Do that and you'll get more love than you can imagine.
And you'll position yourself for what really matters – a legitimate run at the BCS championship game next season when Boise State and others enter the Big East. You'll be part of the discussion from the beginning of the 2013 season, and voters in the human polls will be familiar with Teddy Bridgewater, DeVante Parker and more of the Cardinal players.
It's not what you want. But it's the best you can hope for.