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In Defense Of The Non-Conference Schedule and the Big Finish

Brian: As part of the 2010 edition of the Boston College Athletics annual report, there is a Q&A with Gene DeFilippo entitled "What’s On Your Mind?" Of course, there are the typical questions about the fan experience, men’s lacrosse, bowl selection and travel reputation, Conte Forum air conditioning and the general economy. But the section leads with probably one of the most frequently asked question on the minds of Superfans today:

"Q: Do you believe that most alumni and fans would rather play stronger out-of-conference teams (and risk the opportunity to become football bowl eligible for a lesser bowl) than to continue scheduling easy wins like Buffalo, Hofstra, Northeastern, Rhode Island, Central Michigan, Kent State, etc. to play in a half empty stadium? What are we trying to achieve by scheduling such teams and why is it in the long-term best interest of the program?

A: I think that many people are uninformed about the outside competition scheduled by some schools across the country. Let’s begin with three schools from the Big Twelve. The Texas Longhorns played Louisiana-Monroe, Wyoming, Texas El Paso and Central Florida. Kansas played Northern Colorado, Texas El Paso, Duke and Southern Miss. Nebraska played Florida Atlantic, Arkansas State, Louisiana Lafayette and Virginia Tech. In the Big Ten, Penn State’s outside opposition was Akron, Syracuse, Temple and Eastern Illinois. Michigan’s outside opponents were Delaware State, Eastern Michigan, Western Michigan and Notre Dame. In the SEC, Arkansas played Missouri State, Eastern Michigan, Troy and Texas A&M. Auburn played Louisiana Tech, Ball State, Furman and West Virginia. Florida, the number one-ranked team in the country for much of last season, played Charleston Southern, Troy, Florida International and Florida State. At Boston College, we have played eight difficult ACC opponents plus Notre Dame. As illustrated by the other schedules I mentioned, our schedule is every bit in line with the rest of the country."

Ahh, the old "let’s compare schedules" defense. First, we don’t have to worry about Northeastern or Hofstra anymore because they both discontinued their football programs last season. And you could just as easily construct the counter argument by saying:

"Let’s begin with two schools from the ACC. This season, the Miami Hurricanes play Ohio State, Pittsburgh, South Florida and Florida A&M. Florida State plays Oklahoma, Florida, Brigham Young and Samford. In the Pac 10, USC’s outside opposition will be Notre Dame, Minnesota, Virginia and Hawaii. Oregon State will play TCU, Boise State and Louisville. Washington plays Nebraska, Brigham Young and Syracuse …" and so on and so forth.

While I used to clamor for a stronger non-conference schedule, my stance has actually softened a bit. Especially with the addition of Notre Dame and Syracuse to the schedule -- two of BC’s long-standing rivals – along with BCS academic peer schools like USC, Stanford and Northwestern. In any season over the next several, that already brings BC to 9 or 10 games. Everyone else is adding cream puffs to the schedule to fill the last 2-3 slots, so why shouldn’t BC?

Until either the BCS puts a measure of strength of schedule back into the BCS formula or the NCAA grows a pair and scraps the current system for a playoff, there’s really no incentive for a school to schedule tough. ADs, coaches and conference commissioners performance is currently evaluated on how many bowl games their program gets to and the dollars that are generated from playing in today's bloated college football postseason.

While it sucks as a fan to watch BC beat up on local I-AA lightweights, and I’d much rather watch BC take on Texas, Oklahoma, Penn State and Ohio State, scheduling these guarantee games has become a part of college football that doesn’t seem to be going away any time soon. Curious as to your thoughts?

Jeff: GDF makes very good points where really, he shouldn't have to answer these questions. Syracuse and Notre Dame in the same year should be enough to keep everyone at least off his back.  In my opinion, he is being unfairly criticized because Notre Dame isn't in most people's preseason top 25 for a change and Syracuse has been awful for the better part of a decade.

BC's non-conference schedule last season -- Northeastern, Kent State, Central Michigan, Notre Dame -- was really probably an all-time low. With the Notre Dame series looking like it would come to an end, it was not looking great for the future. Now, with Notre Dame and Syracuse on our schedule for most of the next eight seasons or so, GDF has really not done too poorly and we only got really bad during those seasons that were probably affected by contracts not being signed five years ago when BC first entered the ACC. A Big East team, a MAC team, an FCS and Notre Dame is not the dream non-conference schedule but it's a lot better than two MAC teams, even if the Big East team is Syracuse. Now that the years where BC plays USC in a home and home are quickly approaching, it's about time to sign another big name for down the road. If GDF pulls that off sooner rather than later, all the haters will be quieted. Otherwise, we have to wait for Syracuse to get back to respectability which would not be a wise career move for GDF.


Big Finish

Brian: Patrick Stevens thinks that now that Kyle Parker will return to Clemson, the Tigers should go from being ranked 41 in his preseason rankings to borderline top 25. Do you agree?

Jeff: They might be slightly better next season, but Clemson's future was not that bright with Parker. Tahj Boyd is probably their future regardless.


Jeff: This offseason, former Eagle Marty Reasoner has been traded from the Thrashers to the Blackhawks and now, to the Panthers. Your thoughts?

Brian: It's a shame. Chicago was probably the last chance for the 12 year NHL veteran to win a Stanley Cup.


Brian: HD thinks BC’s key stretch is the entire month of October – at N.C. State, at Florida State, Maryland and Clemson. Did she get it right?

Jeff: Absolutely. Notre Dame starts off that month.


Jeff: Are you welcoming Mike Gambino as enthusiastically as the BC Eagles homepage is?

Brian: Sure. More than a new coach though, a new stadium will help raise my interest in baseball.


Brian: Craig Smith recently responded to NJ Nets fan overtures by tweeting that he would love to play for the Nets. But he then went and resigned with the Clippers. Which bad NBA franchise would you have rather seen Smith play for?

Jeff: The Nets. Anywhere on the East coast, or maybe anywhere else. You never hear anything about the Clippers.


Jeff: ACC Sports has the latest recruiting roundup for the Atlantic Division. Who from the Class of 2011 are you currently most excited about?

Brian: Probably 4* Brian Miller, a local kid who will hopefully continue the line of quality Eagle TEs.


Brian: Last one, the Panama City, FL News Herald previews the BC-Florida State game and predicts a BC upset. Surprised?

Jeff: I guess not everyone from the state of Florida is a homer.