Once upon a time, good nonconference schedules roamed the earth.

One of the more frequent objections you hear about going to a nine-game conference schedule is how that makes scheduling major non-conference games more difficult.  As Greg McGarity put it,

“I mean, who knows,” he said. “In our former models before expansion, yes, that was something we wanted to do, was periodically play another non-conference game against a team like Clemson, like Ohio State. But now with the dynamics shifting you really don’t know right now.”

What I love most about that quote is the use of the word “periodically”.  Folks like McGarity have moved the scheduling goalposts so much over the last decade or so that we’ve forgotten how things were not too long before then.

In 1983, just 29 short years ago, Alabama’s nonconference football schedule included Penn State, Georgia Tech, Boston College and Southern Miss.

That same year, OU’s nonconference schedule included Ohio State, Texas and Stanford. UCLA’s included Georgia, Nebraska and Brigham Young.

In 1983, Southern Cal played Florida, Notre Dame and South Carolina. Washington played Michigan and LSU. Nebraska played Penn State and UCLA.

Now, granted, that was the era of six conference games.  But there was nothing stopping ADs from scheduling tons of cupcakes back then, either.  They just tended not to do so.   Even Vince Dooley managed to put together a ’83 OOC schedule of UCLA, Clemson, South Carolina and Georgia Tech.   As Tramel’s list sadly shows, that’s not a virtue anymore for most schools.  (And let me say that as a Georgia season ticket holder, I’m damned jealous of Michigan State fans right now.)

It’s just going to get worse as the fallout from realignment grows.  What’s the next step past periodically?  Infrequently?  Sporadically?  Occasionally?  Almost never?  How about “when I feel like it”?

25 Comments

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25 responses to “Once upon a time, good nonconference schedules roamed the earth.

  1. Bob

    USC still does it. USC almost always has only 6 home games. And yeah, I know that the PAC 12 is not generally as good as the SEC but we have our share of Ole Miss, Vandy and Kentucky too.

    Is anyone else getting bombarded by the UGA AD trying to pawn off Buffalo, FAU and Vandy tickets? I have never gotten so much mail trying to dump these tickets.

    • gastr1

      The Pac12 has the disadvantage of not having a plethora of small schools playing football in the nearby area; there are far fewer FCS schools west of the MIssissippi. I have often wondered if play better non-conf schedules mostly because that’s who is around to play, or what.

      They do not appear to whine about the travel schedules like the SEC schools do, though, I’ll give them that.

    • Always Someone Else's Fault

      USC played ND, Oregon and Stanford last year – then 9 teams that ranged in quality from Vandy to Kentucky. Georgia had a stronger schedule than USC last year, playing 5 top 35 teams to USC’s 3. Georgia played 8 top 60 teams to USC’s 7.

      USC had the P12′s toughest teams in their draw. Georgia didn’t, which should make 2011 the best case for the USC scheduling comparisons. And it still doesn’t hold up in comparison.

      What did USC do to gather all this scheduling credit? They schedule home-and-aways with teams like Minnesota and Syracuse. Is Syracuse enough of a competitive upgrade to justify losing a home game every other year? I understand the people who think they are, but I have real sympathy for those who think they don’t.

      Mostly, I’m tired of seeing SEC bloggers cave to the weak arguments of P12 homers. I can see this argument:

      “The SEC teams on average have a much higher quality of opponent in their schedule 1-8. It would be nice to see those bottom 2 games have a higher quality of opponent, but what’s the real cost of moving up from Georgia Southern to Minnesota or Syracuse?” That’s an honest debate.

      I’m sick of this one:

      “The P12 schedules tougher teams. The SEC loads up on cupcakes.” That’s an inaccurate sound-bite masquerading as an argument.

      • Steele ranks USC’s 2012 SOS at 30 and Georgia’s at 72.

        • Macallanlover

          And there are consistently wild fluctuations between SOS rankings, because they all have arbitrary assignments to strengths of teams/conferences based on other arbitrary rankings/biases. It is why I argue so vehemently for enough inclusiveness to give each power conference a spot. Respect among CFB fans is overwhelmingly regional. Settle it on the field, but 2 or 4 teams will not satisfy the homers. With 8 teams, only the truly weird (4-5%) will feel the NC isn’t legit. It won’t take 16, 32, or 64 to shut up the west coast and upper mid-west.

          • Always Someone Else's Fault

            Who cares about shutting them up? And if you think they will ever stop complaining, then I have a bridge in Brooklyn to sell you. Once we have 8, they’ll complain about other conferences getting 2 teams, their unfair seeding, their unfair travel distance…. It’s never going to stop.

              • Macallanlover

                Good to know you two have the ability to see into the future with such certainty. Let’s not do the right thing so we don’t run the risk of someone perhaps screwing it up in the future. Newsflash: it is screwed up now. Hard to be worse, last year saw a 1-1 tie declared a winner after sitting on their arse in early December and choking a home game that was supposed to be for all the marbles. Can anyone say “mulligan”? Regular season meant nothing,, nada. And you think this cannot be improved? I am getting off now, you guys have your eyes firmly shut (except for that future vision thingy.)

                • Mac, can you give me a single example on the college or pro level of an American organized sport which hasn’t expanded its postseason more than once?

                  • Macallanlover

                    A direct answer is no. And it looks like CFB will need at least two expansions to get it right (2 to four, then 4 to 8) so expansion isn’t necessarily bad….just excessive expansion has to be guarded against. I feel there is a natural limitation to CFB that makes it unique. I don’t think we can have more than three rounds due to time logistics on both the front and end points. I appreciate that many of you feel this will get stampeded, but I don’t. How difficult was it to get to two, and now perhaps four? The case for expansion will get much weaker as we get to the point where all true contenders are included, and where further expansion will reduce games for the non-contenders (shorter regular season.)

                    I realize you will never buy into this, but that is my belief. That is why I am pulling back from this issue, we are all entrenched and the relevant points have been made on both sides. I don’t continually post my position to be annoying, just that so many posters state the other side and act as if there is no other truth. If my points haven’t made a dent to this thinking by now, there is little hope to maintaining any balance to the discussion. The antis certainly over run this blog, but there are many who feel differently, including those who would expand to a detrimental level.

                    I hope there is expansion in my lifetime because I feel it is warranted, up to eight. So if, and when, it happens that some push for 16 teams, I will be on your side.

                • Always Someone Else's Fault

                  Best predictor of future behavior: past behavior.

                  People do not stop complaining. I can tell you this from 30 years in business. Some people are complainers. Some aren’t. The ones who don’t complain just roll up their sleeves and get to work. They point out the problem and propose a solution. They talk it out, then they get to work. My best customers consider us partners, and we feel the same way about them.

                  The complainers just complain about the problem, then they complain about the solution. They’re experts, and they know exactly what the Right Thing To Do is in all situations: it’s whatever isn’t being done right now.

                  We have a firm rule with those kinds of clients: we cut them off and send them to our competitors. After a year, they’re telling everyone who will listen how horrible our competitors are and how poorly they run their business. Win-win.

        • Always Someone Else's Fault

          Steele had USC 7th and Georgia 53rd pre-season last year. He also had 3 more P12 teams in his top 8 last year (1, 4, 7, 8). By season’s end, Sagarin had those four at 21, 19, 33, and 24, respectively – and Georgia at 23.

          Don’t know how Steele would compute SOS prior to a season starting. The P12 is going to be a joke this year. 4 new coaches, 3 in USC’s division. Lots of senior QBs out the door. If pre-season polls are meaningless (and they are), then pre-season SOS estimates are Meaningless Squared.

          You can make good arguments against cupcakes. USC isn’t one of them.

      • Bob

        Utter and complete nonsense. First of all, I am a GEORGIA blogger, not an SEC blogger. I don’t root for some team named SEC. I root for a team in Red and Black and don’t really give a damn about the cupcakes that some SEC schools schedule all the time.

        Since the BCS era began in 1998, USC has played 35 OOC BCS opponents in the regular season. That does not even include games against Utah and BYU during that period. Yeah, last year it was Syracuse and Minnesota. Then again, Syracuse and Minnesota, as bad as they are, are still a notch above Charleston Southern and North Texas State, not to mention all the FCS teams played. And over that period it has been Auburn, Arkansas, Ohio State, Nebraska, Penn State, Florida State, Kansas State, Virginia Tech among others that USC has played home and home or at a neutral site. That is in addition to Notre Dame. And yep, they play in a conference that is not normally as good or deep as the SEC, but it has been a hell of lot better than some other conferences that we seem to play on a regular basis.

        I am not a USC fan at all. But they schedule and they schedule well. And while they have their Oregon States, our teams have their Ole Miss and Vandy.

        • Always Someone Else's Fault

          No, but it seems that you’re incapable of seeing the totality of the schedule. You (and everyone else) keeps comparing the OOC games as if the conference schedule does not exist.

          Which schedule would you rather have – one with 5 top 35 teams or 3? Would you trade 2 top 35 teams and 2 110 teams for 4 ranked in the 80s? Because that is the net effect of pumping up USC’s schedule as somehow superior to Georgia’s.

          You can make excellent arguments for playing better teams than Coastal Carolina. USC isn’t one of those arguments. Over the time period you cite, they had to schedule up, because the P10 was basically a one-horse conference outside U-Dub’s brief and Oregon’s recent rise. USC games didn’t exist on national TV unless they went OOC.

          I would love to see Georgia play better OOC teams. But USC comparisons don’t move the ball in the right direction.

  2. gastr1

    I do remember a lot of bitching about road games and such when a certain now-disgraced AD was trying to, so to speak, make the profile more national via intersectional non-conference games. Do note that McGarity was not even on the scene then and that it was Mark Richt doing the whining.

    (I mean, that is why we got hammered in that Alabama game in ’08–the trip back from Arizona, you know. It wasn’t WM’s defense or anything like that.)

    • Charles

      Precisely. After all, it’s not like it takes seven days for an 18-23 year old (in excellent physical shape, no less) to recover from… three-hour jet lag.

  3. Scott W.

    It’s great how ADs keep acting like they are advocating for the fans when clearly, they aren’t. After a few more home schedules like this year and McGarity will have to listen. Of course the way next years conference games shake out at home should give some temporary amnesia.

  4. Ben

    I feel like our best bet is for the New System, whatever it is, to incorporate a SOS element that rewards playing at your own level of competition. Though obviously the SEC will fight it tooth and nail . . .

  5. Marshall

    There’s no denying that this year’s home schedule is pretty weak. I think the key in the future will be to have one of those OOC games against a decent, regional opponent e.g. Southern Miss, UCF, or a mid-level ACC team, etc. And don’t we have a 2-yr Clemson series coming up soon?

    Personally, I’m in favor of having two “cupcake” games, a game like I mentioned, and every once in a while, a home-home series against a high-quality opponent.

  6. Bright Idea

    The problem with Evans’ road trips is they were 2 time zones away on Saturday night. That’s when we should have been playing Big10, ACC and Big LEast teams. How many recruits did we sign from Arizona, Oklahoma and Colorado while we were expanding our “brand?” Plus we went 1-2 in those games.

    • gastr1

      The point was less recruits than pollsters and national media, it seemed to me. But nonetheless, excuses like those get you the bullshit we now have on the OOC schedule. Too, is that what you want to model for the players? We really can’t overcome that extra hour in the plane?

  7. wnc dawg

    It is a sad state of affairs for cfb when Ga Tech can reasonably be ranked #9 in overall OOC schedule with a slate like that. Nothing against Tech, in fact, good for them for playing the BYU game. But for that to be an elite OOC grouping just reinforces what a joke cfb scheduling is in general.

  8. Slaw Dawg

    Senator, I think you’re a little rough on Vince, at least by implication. For the most part, his teams “managed to” have only one gimme cupcake per season, such as Temple, Memphis State, Richmond or VMI, and often not even that. Just as a couple of examples, the ’73 squad faced Pitt, Clemson, NC State and Tech OOC (7 conf games that year); the ’80 team faced TAMU, TCU, Clemson, Sakerliny, and Tech; and while the ’82 team did play Memphis St, they also played Clemson, BYU (those 2 in the same week), Sakerliny and Tech. In fairness, I often considered Vandy a “cupcake” game, teams such as TCU or Oregon St were hardly world beaters at the time, and we were able to get home only visits from good OOC teams back then. But those teams were definitely capable of beating you, as Wake Forest showed in ’79. So I don’t know where the Hell this belief came from that we MUST have 2 lower-rung-easy-win-cupcakes. It is not a part of our tradition, the games are not much fun, and it makes our conference look like a buncha wussies when the other BCS conferences are going to 9 game schedules.

  9. Mayor of Dawgtown

    Bitch, bitch, bitch. And you guys are the same one’s that describe anyone who doesn’t agree with you as “whiny assholes.”