College football scheduling: Imagine a world of relevant games
I guess you saw where Savannah State is back in the news. The football team that is opening its season Sept. 1 in Stillwater will play at Florida State on Sept. 8.
You can’t blame Florida State for the dumbed-down schedule. The Seminoles had West Virginia scheduled, but the Mountaineers canceled when they joined the Big 12. Florida State tried like the dickens to schedule another big-name opponent – including Oklahoma – but were rebuffed. Which is a shame, since Florida State is one of those schools that have tried to fight the good fight.
College football schedule has become an abomination, with so many schools scheduling automatic victories, for reasons both financial and competitive. They need extra home games to pad the budget and extra victories to pad the post-season resume.
This is not the way it used to be. Thirty years ago, few self-respecting college football program would schedule a game against an opponent from a lower classification. Now, it’s common.
So I decided to imagine a world in which men were men. A college football world in which teams did not schedule exhibitions against Division I-AA opponents. I went through the tentative 2012 schedule, found all the games matching major-conference foes against I-AA foes, and rescheduled. For grins, I even threw in a neutral site that could host the game, since that would cushion the blow of not getting an automatic home win.
Of course, ideally, schools would schedule home-and-home series with representative opponents. That’s better for fans. But I did this exercise just to show what we could be looking forward to come September. Here’s what I came up with:
Oklahoma State vs. Arkansas at Arlington: OSU is playing Savannah State, the Razorbacks, Jacksonville State. This would revive an age-old rivalry that historically was played in Little Rock.
Missouri vs. Kansas at Kansas City: The Tigers are playing Southeastern Louisiana, the Jayhawks, South Dakota State. I know, KU wants to punish Mizzou by discontinuing the series. But how much better for the sport and the fans if these schools play.
Utah vs. Kansas State at Denver: The Utes are playing Northern Colorado, the Cats Missouri State. K-State actually is ahead of the Big 12 curve in scheduling prowess. How the world has changed.
Florida State vs. Wisconsin at Nashville: Wisconsin is playing Northern Iowa. But the Badgers also have UTEP and Utah State. So adding Florida State to Wisconsin’s lone real game, Oregon State, doesn’t seem above and beyond the call.
Maryland vs. Pitt at Philadelphia: The Terrapins are playing William & Mary, the Panthers Youngstown State. This would be a sneak preview of a possible 2013 ACC game.
South Florida vs. North Carolina at Atlanta: USF is playing Tennessee-Chattanooga, the Tar Heels, Elon. The Georgia Dome loves hosting games like this. So let’s do more.
Indiana vs. Connecticut at Pittsburgh: I know, fans would rather see the Hoosiers and Huskies play basketball. But no one wants to see IU play Indiana State or UConn play UMass.
Ole Miss vs. Wake Forest at Atlanta: The Rebels play Central Arkansas, the Deacons play Liberty. This could be part of a Georgia Dome weekend extravaganza.
Mississippi State vs. Virginia at Atlanta: The Bulldogs play Jackson State, the Cavaliers play Richmond. Nice to keep the money in state, I suppose, but the games mean nothing.
Oregon State at Purdue: The Beavers are playing Nicholls State, the Boilermakers play Eastern Kentucky. This is one game that doesn’t make sense geographically to play at a neutral site.
Texas Tech at Arizona State: The Red Raiders play Northwestern Louisiana, the Sun Devils play Northern Arizona. This one doesn’t offer a natural neutral site. Consider it penance for Tech playing such a cushy schedule the last several seasons.
Oklahoma vs. Colorado at Denver: The Sooners play Florida A&M, the Buffaloes play Sacramento State. OU was willing to play a road game anyway, why not renew the rivalry with old conference pal Colorado?
TCU vs. California at San Francisco: The Horned Frogs play Grambling, the Golden Bears have Southern Utah. Instead, play in Candlestick Park. The Horned Frogs leave the state of Texas just thrice all season.
Virginia Tech vs. Tennessee at Atlanta: The Hokies play Austin Peay, the Volunteers play Georgia State. Tennessee already has a game in Atlanta, against North Carolina State, but the Vols’ overall schedule stinks.
Washington State vs. Minnesota at Seattle: The Cougars play Eastern Washington, the Golden Gophers play New Hampshire. Far better to get that Pac 12/Big Ten series started.
Boston College vs. Louisville at East Rutherford, N.J.: The Eagles play Maine, the Cardinals play Missouri State. Louisville needs a game anyway, with West Virginia’s departure from the Big East.
Brigham Young at Texas Tech: BYU plays Weber State, Tech plays at Texas State. Making up for having to go Arizona, Tech can host Brigham Young, which is gasping for good games in its new independent status.
Arizona vs. Baylor at El Paso: The Wildcats play South Carolina State, the Bears play Sam Houston State. Can we stop for a minute and just talk? Talk about relevancy. Arizona-South Carolina State and Baylor-Sam Houston State have no relevancy to anyone. They are not even blips on the radar screen. An Arizona-Baylor game would make fans interested. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but when you make college football a big business, one of the things you have to accept is that customers must be satisfied.
Miami vs. Cincinnati at Paul Brown Stadium: The ‘Canes play Bethune-Cookman, the Bearcats play Delaware State. I know, Paul Brown is not a neutral site, but give Miami credit. The ‘Canes will play anyone anywhere.
Illinois vs. Iowa State at St. Louis: The Illini play Charleston Southern, the Cyclones play Western Illinois. This is the perfect example of what’s gone wrong with college football. Where an Illinois-Iowa State game is deemed too tough for both of these struggle-to-rise programs. This is exactly who Iowa State and Illinois ought to be playing. Not Western Illinois and Charleston Southern.
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