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”?