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Scheduling the Future

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There has been a lot of discussion on the intarwebs recently about Big Ten scheduling. ESPN's Big blogger, Adam Rittenberg, mentioned in a post yesterday that Notre Dame will likely cycle off of Purdue's schedule sometime after 2014 when the current contract runs out. This is not a surprise, as it has been discussed for years on message boards and such. With Wisconsin wanting to play the Irish it looks more and more like a reality.

There has also been much discussion on Big Ten scheduling and other non-conference games in the future. The impetus of this post comes from a thread I noticed on the GBI forum yesterday talking about us scheduling a Florida team for a home and home. This makes sense since coach Danny Hope is concentrating on getting Florida recruits to West Lafayette. Let's address all these in a row, first looking at Purdue's confirmed non-conference schedule through 2012.


Sept. 4 at Notre Dame

Sept. 11 Western Illinois

Sept. 18 Ball State

Sept. 25 Toledo

I am not a fan of this, as it has us opening the season at Notre Dame for the first time since 1984. That game wasn't even at Notre Dame, as it was the first ever football game in the now defunct Hoosier Dome in Indianapolis. At least we won it 23-21. Western Illinois is a hated 1-AA matchup that should be a five touchdown victory. Toledo stays on for a second straight year as a fulfillment of the 2-for-1 scheduling with them (at Toledo in 2007, at Ross-Ade in 2009 and 2010). Ball State, which has improved its play greatly in the last few years, makes its first appearance since 2006. At least we get a chance to go 3-0 against the state of Indiana's other three Division 1-A teams.


Sept. 3 Notre Dame

Sept. 10 at Rice

Sept. 17 Southeast Missouri State

Sept. 24 Kent State

Like 2010, we open with Notre Dame. It is actually a bit of a relief, as the Irish have insisted upon taking our Big Ten bye week in recent years in order to keep them on the schedule. The game at Rice seems odd, but it is us finally fulfilling the return of a home and home series. The first game in that series was a 21-19 win over the Owls in my first game as a student in 1998. It was a much closer than expected game. Rice actually had a chance to tie late, but missed a two-point conversion. Southeast Missouri State is a useless 1-AA game. Kent State last served as a 45-10 sacrificial lamb during the Drew Brees Rose Bowl year.


Sept. 1 Eastern Kentucky

Sept. 8 at Notre Dame

Sept. 15 OPEN DATE

Sept. 22 OPEN DATE

Sept. 29 OPEN DATE

This is the last season that Purdue's official site has dates confirmed. Eastern Kentucky is a 1-AA game where coach Hope will get to face his former school. To me, these games serve no purpose and do more harm than good with the injury risk (see Torri Williams 2006). The Notre Dame game is again earlier than it has been in recent years, affording us a bye week. We will play all 8 Big Ten games in a row unless the conference moves the schedule some in the future. You can almost guarantee that one of those two open non-conference slots will be filled by a MAC team. We have played at least one MAC team since 1999. 1998's slate of at USC, Rice, Central Florida, and at Notre Dame was the only year under Tiller we did not play a MAC team.

Confirmed series in the future:

Oklahoma State home and home 2013 and 2015?

Cincinnati (according to at Cincy 2013, at Purdue 2014, at Cincy 2015

The Oklahoma State one has been confirmed for some time, but I cannot remember the exact dates at the moment. That will be a good rematch of our 1997 Alamo Bowl win over the Cowboys. I find the Cincinnati one intriguing. Why did we give them two home games? I was at the 2001 game at Cincinnati in which Purdue played its first post-Brees game. The Bearcats were supposed to come to Ross-Ade in 2004, but backed out of the game in order to schedule a Big East opponent since they were in the middle of switching conferences. They convinced Syracuse to come in their place and a 51-0 beatdown was the result. I find it interesting we are giving up a home game there.

Analysis and the Notre Dame question:

I have mixed feelings about Notre Dame potentially going off the schedule. Though they are no longer a viable national title contender, on name recognition alone it does draw plenty of attention to Purdue when we play them. I do love it when we beat them because all the irrational Notre Dame fans pretty much freak out when it happens. The sole reason we get a night game this season is because it is Notre Dame. ESPN/ABC has a rare chance to broadcast one of their games instead of NBC, so they jumped at the chance to put it in prime time. As much as I hate it, people watch the Irish. We benefit from that once a year, so losing that game will cost us some exposure.

On the other hand, it does free us up to do some more creative scheduling. Unless the program makes a drastic turn northward and starts contending for Big Ten title every season (possible, but unlikely), we are going to schedule our non-conference games to give us 2 or 3 wins before jumping into conference play. 2009 is one of our most ambitious non-conference schedules in recent memory. Much like 2008, getting three non-conference wins will be tough. It is unlikely we're going add a big name opponent as long as the Irish are on our schedule. In recent years we have played BCS conference teams at or below our level like Arizona, Wake Forest, and Oregon, but they aren't the elite of the elite. Oregon is probably the best of those teams, being one of the better Pac-10 teams.

I like the idea of a home and home with a Florida opponent. We did that in 1998-99 with Central Florida, and it ended up helping them more than us. It gave one Daunte Culpepper a nationally televised game against Drew Brees in 1998. Some possibilities mentioned yesterday were Florida International, Florida Atlantic, and South Florida.

FIU would be difficult, as they have a pretty small on-campus stadium. I've been by it down in Miami and though it just had a major expansion, it still currently seats just 20,000. There are two more expansions planned that will move it to 45,000 by 2012, but who knows if that will actually happen yet. They do get Louisville at their place in 2012 and 2014. Texas A&M is another big name coming in 2013.

FAU presents a bigger problem. Though they have had more success than FIU, the Owls do not currently have their own on-campus stadium. They have been trying to get one, but progress has stalled on it for the immediate future. They currently play most of their home games at Lockhart Stadium in Fort Lauderdale. This is south of their Boca Raton campus. It seats barely more than 20,000 and they are unhappy with it because they now have to share dates at the facility with many local high school games. FAU does play the occasional game at JoeRobbie/Pro Player/Dolphin(s)/Landshark Stadium, but it is even further from their campus. They usually play there for bigger games such as their "Shula Bowl" rivalry with FIU and in 2007 when they beat Minnesota 42-39.


I pray that if we play FAU or Miami here it is a night game. This place is hot as sin during the day.

Playing at JoeRobbie/Pro Player/Dolphin(s)/Landshark Stadium presents its own set of problems if we were to play the Owls. It is also the home of the Miami Dolphins and Miami Hurricanes. We would have to schedule around their games, but by 2012 the Florida Marlins will be in their own stadium so we don't have to worry about September baseball getting in the way. Michigan State comes to FAU in 2010. The Owls also have no scheduled non-conference games in 2012, opening a door there. They are a better team than FIU as well, having won bowl games each of the past two years and regularly threatening BCS opponents. There is also a connection there as our offensive coordinator, Gary Nord, used to coach there.

USF would be an interesting opponent, but they already have a 2-for-1 series set up with Indiana as a Big Ten opponent. The Hoosiers go to Tampa in 2011 and 2016, while the Bulls come to Bloomington in 2015. I could see us sliding a series in there between 2012 and 2014. (Ed note: Several astute readers have e-mailed me informing me that the 2011 game in Tampa is off. still lists it as on, but I know it is a site that isn't updated well)

UCF is another possibility. They have hosted Texas in their new on-campus stadium, so it isn't unheard of for us to go there. They have a fairly open schedule beyond 2011. We can probably forget Florida or Florida State, but I could see the Hurricanes making a home and home with us. They did it in the 80's, and they often fly against the 7 home, five road game scheduling. Miami is headed up to Big Ten country next year to start a home and home with Ohio State. They aren't afraid to venture out of South Florida either as they have future dates set against Pittsburgh, Kansas State, Nebraska, and Rutgers.

We can forget facing the Hurricanes as long as we have Robert Marve though unless it is in a bowl game. Our 2010 and 2011 schedule is set, and they have just one open non-conference date coming in 2011. They already host Kansas State and Ohio State that year with a trip to South Florida, so it is unlikely they will add us as a 12th game.

The future of Big Ten scheduling:

The Big Ten is in a unique position as it is the only BCS conference that doesn't settle its title on the field. The SEC, ACC, and Big 12 have a conference championship game. The Big East and Pac-10 have a full round-robin schedule, though the Pac-10 appears to be going away from it. Everyone is crying foul that the Big Ten doesn't play everybody, doesn't have a title game, and rarely plays past Thanksgiving. That part will change next year as the Indiana game is already scheduled for the Saturday after Thanksgiving.

The bottom line is that the Big Ten is going to have to give up a little bit of its traditions and start doing what everyone else is doing in this regard. The weather in Big East country is far from perfect in late November/early December, but they still play home night games in those final two weeks.

Adding one more conference game at the sacrifice of a non-conference game is a partial solution, but it doesn't solve everything. If anything, it makes matters worse by giving an unbalanced schedule. You mathematically can't have 11 teams play exactly nine conference games each. That doesn't get into the fact some teams would have just four conference home games while others would have five. To me, that is more retarded than what we currently have.

You'll never see them go to a true round-robin of ten games each, either. The Big ten is a brutal conference. It is not going to jeopardize its seven (or more) bowl obligations and the money from those by eliminating two non-conference games each. If it did that, you can probably forget seeing a Big Ten team ever playing a marquee non-conference game again. No one would risk giving up a non-conference win in that scenario. It would be bad for the fans because all it would mean is an endless string of MAC and 1-AA opponents, offering no spice on the schedule.

I see it here in Indiana with a high school football conference I cover a lot. It is a 10 team conference and Indiana has just a nine-game regular season in football. Everyone in that conference plays everyone else, so they don't know how good they are outside of their own conference until the state tournament. If the Big Ten did that it would actually hurt Notre Dame's precious schedule as well. Do you think they'll be able to schedule three and sometimes four Big Ten games a year anymore if that happens?

The Big Ten scheduling is not going to change unless we add a 12th member. That's unlikely to happen either. Notre Dame isn't coming, and who can blame them when NBC gives them a dumptruck full of money and they can earn undeserved BCS bowls for even more money. We're not raiding the Big 12 because they would fall into the same situation as the Big Ten is in now. We're not raiding the Big East, either. The bottom line there is that nothing is going to happen, so let's just stop talking about it. We need to just focus on going out and winning some damn bowl games.