In sports, scheduling is an art.
Is it better to play tough teams and lose or is it better to schedule cupcakes and win?
This tenet often becomes most prominent when it comes time to postseason play. Look no further than the NCAA basketball tournament when we hear of mid-major schools, strength of schedule and good wins and bad wins.
A story by Record sportswriter Stephen Roberson took a local look at this issue.
Lincoln High’s football team is winless. But the team has played Elk Grove (5-0), Pitman of Turlock (4-1), Vacaville (2-2) and St. Mary’s (3-1). Those teams are a combine 14-4, outscoring their opponents 730-377. Lincoln hosts Granite Bay (3-1) tonight.
Edison High is undefeated, having won its first four games while outscoring its opponents 156-59. Yet those teams are a combined 6-11 and only one – Franklin – has a winning record.
So which is better?
Lincoln coach Brian Gray said his team is prepping for the playoffs. In a way, there is no better way to prepare for those tough games by playing tough opponents. Think of the number of teams that have played in demanding environments that have performed well in the postseason, provided that they qualify of course.
Conversely, coaches with programs that have struggled recently like to play winnable games. Even if the opponent is not one of the better teams. Those coaches would argue that winning begets winning and that you have to get the W’s first and try to qualify for the postseason before being concerned about being good enough to advance during the postseason.
In the end, on the field, it is about building a winning program. And after that is accomplished it is about sustaining that success and growing the program.
For a program like Lincoln that has achieved the first step the next is going as deep into the playoffs as possible. For a team such as Edison, it is about learning to win.