Orange Watch: Realignment leads to wishful thinking for Syracuse schedule

We all know the dilemma the folks in the athletic department, in particular AD Daryl Gross and co-top lieutenant Herman Frazier, have been wrestling with in finalizing a 2012 football schedule that was one game short of completion for public announcement before West Virginia finalized its Big East divorce to jump to the Big 12 earlier this week.

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Now the Orange need two games to fill out the schedule, one at home to provide six Dome games to go along with the neutral site Southern California game at Met Life Stadium in New Jersey which completes that two-game series, and a road game that replaces the trip to Morgantown, W.Va.

There’s been talk that the Big East might try to entice one of its newcomers, Boise State is most prominently mentioned, to come aboard now and fill the roster back to eight (assuming SU and Pitt decide not to match WVU’s $20M premature exit fee, and for the ‘Cuse, raising the funds necessary for a true indoor football practice facility is more important than spending money on joining the ACC a year sooner than likely), but if not, what to do?

The list of FBS schools that need games in 2012 is 14, including seven teams from BCS conferences (SU already plays two Big Ten teams and USC, no need for another BCS opponent), three from Conference USA, three from the Sun Belt, the lowest-ranked FBS conference, and Hawaii, a fun but long trip to Honolulu that allows a team to schedule 13 games, exactly what the Orange don’t need – another game. How about a road game at future Big East member Houston, for example, and home against Middle Tennessee State or UAB?

That would balance out the competitiveness of the schedule; although not likely make Syracuse-area fans happy with a Dome slate that would feature Northwestern, FCS foe Stony Brook, a non-BCS conference FBS-level opponent, in addition to Connecticut, Louisville and Pittsburgh.

To those in the immediate Syracuse area complaining about the loss of the USC game being played in the Dome, the reality is that Met Life Stadium is such a great facility, located around the largest concentration of alumni in the country, and with the financial parameters too important to the athletic department’s coffers, that it makes sense to schedule a game there each season as Syracuse will do with Penn State in 2013 and Notre Dame in 2014.

That being said, with so many of the great college football programs that have won national titles (in some cases multiple titles) since the Dome opened 34 years ago this fall, and having also played under the Teflon roof, it would have been great for Southern California to join this very impressive list: Penn State, Miami, BYU, Oklahoma, Notre Dame, Washington, Florida State, Florida, Michigan, Nebraska, Tennessee, Ohio State, Texas, and Auburn.

Who’s missing from that list besides the Trojans? Alabama, LSU, Georgia Tech, Colorado, Clemson and Georgia, the other national champions since 1980. Those are the programs we’d like to see invade the Dome, along with west-coasters ‘SC and UCLA.

We’ll get Clemson and Georgia Tech in the Dome soon enough as fellow ACC members, perhaps a home/away/neutral series such as the upcoming Penn State trio of games will be a way to fulfill our wish list to get ‘Bama, LSU, and Georgia to be the rare SEC teams that play regular-season games above the Mason-Dixon Line.

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About Brad Bierman 848 Articles
Now in his sixth 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.