BYU needs a game. We could play Northwestern again. ESPN could also find us an opponent too if we are willing to play on a random night. The conventional wisdom is that Brad Bates will wait until after he's hired a new coach to find a 12th opponent. That makes sense. You would want your new guy to have some influence on the process. But there is one potential opponent lingering out there who I think BC should schedule now: Ohio State. This might seem crazy. We will have a new coach, we already scheduled USC and we will probably be coming off our worst season in more than two decades. But where others see a chance for failure, I see opportunity.
No one would expect us to win
New coach. A losing team. On the road against Ohio State early in the year. The spread would probably be 30 points. And that's fine. If we get killed no one cares. If we hang with them for a bit, the new coach gets some respect from the fans and college football establishment. If we shock the world and win, it is huge, program-building momentum swing.
Ohio will still be a recruiting focal point
Regardless of who we hire, he's going to have to recruit in Ohio. Our ties to certain pockets of the state, the strength of various Catholic schools and the alternative that BC provides to lower-level Big Ten recruits means we have to maintain a presence there. Traditionally we've done so by playing MAC teams. Playing at Ohio Stadium once would be an even stronger planting of the flag. Plus it would be a nice trip for all the Ohio kids on our roster.
If Ohio State agrees to the game, they will have two options. Either this is a one-time game at Ohio Stadium and they pay us a huge amount (north of $1 million) or they agree to a home and home (with the return game coming in the next few years). If they only want the one game, that's fine. Consider it a boost to the budget to pay for Spaz's buyout. If they agree to a home and home, that is a great tool for our new coach. He can go into recruits' homes and sell that future game. This is what I would say to our recruits and fans: "we had a rough game against Ohio State, but wait until they come to play us in 2015. They will see a whole new Boston College!"
Changing the perception of BC's schedule
BC has been notorious for our careful scheduling. Gene built schedules every year that he felt were balanced and lent to wining seasons. This didn't create a lot of excitement or credibility. But we did win. I was at BC when were were still living with Coughlin's "we'll play anyone" attitude. In 1995 we played a full Big East slate, plus Michigan, Ohio State, Michigan State and Army. It was the toughest schedule in the country. BC went 4-8. Down the road we will need to adopt Gene's scheduling philosophy again, but for next year we can do whatever we want. If we go 4-8 again but the season includes Ohio State and USC it will be considered a good first season for our new coach. And then he and Brad Bates can use this one game any time someone challenges the strength or excitement of our schedule. I can just hear it now: "during the last five years we've played Ohio State, Notre Dame, USC, Northwestern, etc out of conference."
You only want a coach who wants to play Ohio State
I am sure Brad Bates wants to respect the opinion of our new head coach. But if our new leader doesn't have the hunger and confidence to rebuild BC and take on programs like Ohio State, then he is not the right guy for BC right now. I am all for smart scheduling but every once in a while you need to take a chance. This is BC's chance. Go sign this contract and dot that "I."