Sunday, September 04, 2022

Paying the price for safe scheduling

There is a lot to digest about the season opening loss to Rutgers, but one thing that is not being discussed is how scheduling and playing programs like Rutgers is probably not in BC's best interest.

Once we joined a conference in the '90s, BC also added a long series of games with Notre Dame to fill out its non-conference schedule. This worked on many levels. It provided a great recruiting talking point and generated a lot of fan, alumni and media interest. When Notre Dame wanted to end the series, Gene replaced their first gap in the schedule with USC. (The Irish are now forced to play us on a rotational basis as part of their agreement with the ACC.) At the time the deal was signed USC was the premier program in the country. To most it seemed like BC was signing up for two losses and a nice pay day. But that is not what happened. When the teams took the field it wasn't Jags vs Pete Carroll. It was Addazio vs Lane Kiffin (and Sark a year later). Hell, Gene wasn't even around to see the games. And in the end, BC split the series, including a raucous win at Alumni. But even if BC had lost both games, the scheduling was smart. No one -- including media, fans and recruits -- would have felt differently if USC had crushed BC two times. That is what is supposed to happen. Splitting the series gave BC a little more respect and provided a great moment for the players and fans. 

After Gene left, Brad Bates shifted the scheduling philosophy a bit. (I have been told he was listening to Addazio, but official word from BC was "football coaches don't make their schedules.") Instead of pushing hard for elite programs (beyond the Ohio State series that keeps getting pushed back), BC began scheduling the opposite of the USCs. At the time we scheduled them, Purdue, Kansas, Mizzou and Rutgers were some of the worst Power 5 teams in the country. It was extremely cynical and short-sighted to think they would remain that way once BC finally took the field against them. None of them had broad appeal when we scheduled them and none were particularly interesting once we took the field. And unlike USC, I don't think BC fans have or will travel for these games. So far in this dregs of the Power 5 series we are 2-3. 

1-1 vs Rutgers
0-1 vs Purdue
0-1 vs Kansas
1-0 vs Mizzou

What do we have to show for it? One exciting win against Missouri. These are classic games where you are expected to win, so no one really cares when you do win, but everyone is frustrated and embarrassed when you lose. 

Since Bates and Addazio have left, we have extended the series with Rutgers. On its own, you can rationalize it because New Jersey is an important recruiting territory for us and it is a close game for our fans. But as long as Schiano is still there, it will be a tough game with little upside. 

Other future Power 5 scheduled games are not as frustrating. In the next six years we have tentative games against Stanford, Michigan State and the return game with Mizzou. But going forward, I would advise an BC AD to avoid scheduling the Power 5 bottom feeders and think more about recreating the magic of the USC win. 

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