Let’s talk scheduling

There were several reasons for Navy’s planned move to the American Athletic Conference. One of the most significant was scheduling; it’s getting harder and harder to line up teams for the Mids to play. Critics of the move don’t buy it. They point to Army, who apparently has no problem filling schedules as an independent:

Despite the changing landscape of college football at the Division I level, Corrigan said Army isn’t having trouble filling its schedules.

“As you look who it is and who West Point is, people want to play us,” Corrigan said. “There’s no shortage of those teams that I mentioned or bigger schools that want to play West Point. We help fill stadiums. We have a role in college football and a place in college football.”

So who are these schools?

“Our goal is to play people that we look like, that have a similar-type mission that we do,” Corrigan said. “As you look at that, be it Rice, be it Tulane, be it Duke, be it Wake Forest, playing some of our more traditional rivals with a Colgate or an Ivy or other Patriot League teams mixed in there, it’s going very well. We are excited about that.”

A couple of things about that…

Boo Corrigan wants to play schools with similar academic standards. The reason he wants to play those schools is because in theory they’d be about as close to an even matchup as Army can get outside of the other service academies. In other words, he wants to win. Of course, that’s exactly why those schools want to play Army, too. If you’re Wake Forest and have an ACC schedule in front of you, winning your out-of-conference games is crucial to earning a bowl berth. I’m sure Corrigan’s phone is ringing off the hook with other athletic directors looking for a game. That’s what happens when you have one winning season in the last 15 years. The phone gets a lot quieter when you’ve been to 9 bowl games in 10 seasons. Rice, Tulane, and Wake Forest used to play Navy all the time. It’s no coincidence that they’re turning to Army now. We got a great reminder of that this week as Indiana’s coach and AD are basically carrying out a public argument over why Navy was even on the schedule in the first place. Don’t think that they’re the only ones having this conversation.

On top of that, what Corrigan says isn’t the whole truth. While I don’t doubt it when he says there are plenty of programs willing to play Army, that doesn’t mean that the pool isn’t shrinking. Rutgers has been a staple of Army schedules for decades, with the two having met 33 times in the last 50 years. The series is now in jeopardy, though, thanks to the Scarlet Knights joining the Big Ten. Conferences want more games against each other, and they especially want them in the second half of the season. Army might be able to shift games against Rutgers to earlier in the year in order to save the rivalry, but then they’ll just be left with the same problem for anyone else they want to schedule for the original date. Just look at their future schedules now. September and early October dates are filling up quite nicely. Later dates are already taking a bit more work to fill.

The problem is real, guys.

6 thoughts on “Let’s talk scheduling

  1. Phil

    Completely agree. It’s why I think in the near future there will be no independents in the FBS division and everyone will have to be in a conference.

  2. CJ

    Speaking of the *relative* ease of scheduling in Sept/early October, do you know if there was a reason for scheduling two BYE weeks in the first 4 weeks of this season, then following that with a 9-game stretch? For a team that generally lacks depth, it seems that would hurt us in the long run. Maybe the idea was to let the other teams beat themselves up early and then sweep in and get some wins with fresh players? I’m just curious if you have any insight on this and whether these factors played into this season’s scheduling?

    1. Schedules are set years in advance with plenty of changes and cancellations along the way. The schedule you end up with isn’t always the schedule you set out to build.

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