Orange Watch: The scheduling inequities of college football

When Syracuse hosted West Virginia to kick off the worst era in the football program’s modern history, aka the 2005 season opener – Greg Robinson’s first game as head coach, we remember thinking, then writing, bemoaning the fact that not only was so much new with Robinson after 14 years under Paul Pasqualoni (including those throwback white uniforms worn at home vs. WVU), why add to the newness by starting right off with a Big East Conference game to boot?

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Is this a balanced schedule?

Jim Boeheim wouldn’t stand for a team like Louisville being scheduled for his first game in November; and of course he has two regularly scheduled exhibition games to allow him a dress rehearsal for when the contests count, along with the luxury of 31 regular season games to prepare for post-season play.

College football’s professional brethren play four pre-season games (simultaneously committing consumer fraud by charging regular season prices for a different product) to get ready for 16 games over a four month season.

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MLB, the NBA, the NHL all have a pre-season schedule of games.

Why not something similar in college football, with its limited 12 game opportunity?  Or at the minimum, why don’t more teams open with a FCS school or lower level FBS opponent?

This upcoming season alone in week one there’s eight matchups pitting BCS vs. BCS including three conference games; South Carolina-Vanderbilt, Miami-Boston College, and Georgia Tech-Virginia Tech.

In addition to Doug Marrone’s squad opening with a BCS foe for the third time in his four seasons, there’s N.C. State-Tennessee, Clemson-Auburn, Michigan-Alabama, and Kentucky-Louisville.

Some pretty good teams are going to be 0-1 barely into September, essentially out of the national championship chase and immediately playing catch-up in the conference standings, while many others will be blowing somebody out in a first game designed to be a tune-up, sitting at 1-0.

With only 12 games to play with (and Temple couldn’t even schedule a 12th game after replacing West Virginia in the Big East), six wins to be bowl eligible, and unlike college hoops no worries about strength of schedule, it doesn’t seem to make sense to face a BCS foe first, TV dollars or not.

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While N.C. State plays Tennessee, North Carolina hosts Elon.  While Miami goes up to B.C., Florida State hosts Murray State, and of course other than Louisville and Kentucky meeting, as SU hosts the Wildcats, other Big East teams open with the likes of Villanova (Temple), Youngstown State (Pittsburgh) and Chattanooga (South Florida).

Those are canyon-wide differences in week one opponents.

In 2013 SU opens with Penn State at Met Life Stadium, but moving forward with a built-in tough nine game ACC schedule each season, it would seemingly make the most sense to start off with a FCS opponent in the Dome.  You know, a team like Colgate which brings the added bonus of its fans traveling to the game, an opponent which would allow the college football version of a “pre-season” game on the schedule.

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Brad Bierman

About Brad Bierman

Now in his fifth decade of covering SU sports, Brad was sports director of WSYR radio for eight years into the early 1990s, then wrote the Orange Watch column for The Big Orange/The Juice print publication for 18 years. A Syracuse University graduate, Brad currently runs his own media consulting business in the Philadelphia suburbs. Follow him on Twitter @BradBierman.
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