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A Modest Proposal on Out of Conference Scheduling

Without fail, one of the predominant topics in the college football off-season every year is out of conference scheduling.

The House Rock Built took the "SEC is a bunch of regionalists approach" and rounded the post out with a neat little table that admittedly omits some data that I think should've been included (trips to North Carolina, Texas and Hawaii), but that's beside the point. EDSBS, of course, has a retort.

A Burnt Orange Nation reader compiled a wish list of five non-conference teams he'd like to see Texas have a home and away series with. Kyle at Dawgsports followed suit with a list of his own for Georgia. Paul Westerdawg of Georgia Sports chimed in with his dream list and I submitted one myself on my pre-Roll Bama Roll blog.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading the "dream lists" for home and away series, but it got me to thinking that even though I'd like to see Alabama take on four massive out of conference opponents in one year that it's a totally unrealistic proposition. I know the others weren't suggesting four big OOC games in a year, that's just my misguided dream. Anyway, virtually every BCS conference team has at least one cupcake on their OOCschedule and some of them have 2 or 3 or 4.

So, while I'd like to see us take on Ohio State, USC, Texas and Miami in addition to our eight conference games, it's totally impractical (actually, in 1977, Alabama had Nebraska, Miami, USC and Louisville as OOC opponents and still managed a 9-1 regular season record and then proceeded to destroy Ohio State 35-6 in the Sugar Bowl.)

I don't know a single college football fan that didn't watch this game.

As it currently stands, we have four out of conference games and here's a semi-realistic proposal of what I'd like to see done with them:

  • One truly marquee opponent every year that'll require a home and away series. It seems as if the massive match-ups of late like USC vs. Notre Dame, Texas vs. Ohio State, etc. help a team with national recruiting no matter if they win or lose, so I'd like to see us throw our hat in the ring again.
  • Two respectable opponents. Either upper echelon mid-major teams or mid to lower level BCS conference opponents that you may or may not choose to have a home and away with. Basically, I'm suggesting decent teams (at least one of them should got to bowl games semi-frequently.)
  • One Division I cupcake. The NCAA should ban D1 teams playing anything lower (at least in football.)

Alabama's out of conference schedule this year is far from stellar, but it meets a good portion of my realistic wish list:

  1. Hawaii (four bowl appearances in the last decade)
  2. Louisiana-Monroe (cupcake)
  3. Duke (lower level BCS team that we're travelling to play in a few years)
  4. Florida International (cupcake)
Ditch one of the Sun Belt teams, pick up somebody great and it's not so bad.

The 2007 out of conference schedule has the potential to meet my proposed scenario 100%:

  1. Florida State (marquee match-up)
  2. Houston (three bowl appearances in the last decade)
  3. Louisiana-Monroe (cupcake)
  4. TBA
With this proposed formula for out of conference scheduling, the following is achieved:
  1. Fans get a truly special, marquee match-up that will generate a national TV audience and have local fans clamoring for tickets. It will likely also help with recruiting because kids want to play in big games.
  2. Fans get two games against decent competition that the team should win, but won't end up with 63-6 score lines.
  3. A guaranteed win with the cupcake. Nobody wants to go "0-fer" for the season.

Bring it on Boise State!

So, even though it is a bit odd, I submit to you a mid-level team wish list that I'd like to see Alabama play rather than seeing them beat up on Utah State and Western Carolina.

Here's a list of 10 in alphabetical order:

  1. Army: I want revenge for the 1988 Sun Bowl.
  2. Boise State: Who doesn't want to play the smurf turf team?
  3. Marshall: It'd be fun to play another team whose nickname doesn't end in `s.'
  4. Memphis: Ole Miss and Tennessee play them frequently so why not?
  5. North Carolina: Maybe it'd help mid-Atlantic recruiting?
  6. Northwestern: I have several friends that are Northwestern alumni.
  7. Syracuse: I can only recall playing a few Big East teams in the last 20 years.
  8. TCU: I don't believe the two have met since the tragic mid-70s series that left a TCU player paralyzed.
  9. UTEP: It'd be fun to square off against Mike Price.
  10. Washington: 1926 Rose Bowl rematch!
I'd be interested to hear your wish lists for mid-level competition.