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Football Schedules: Future Vs. Present Vs. Past
July 15, 2014
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Wendell Barnhouse is a nationally-known and respected columnist who has spent over 20 years covering collegiate athletics. He has reported from 25 Final Fours and more than three dozen bowl games and has written about the Big 12 and its schools since the conference's beginning. Barnhouse will be updating the Big 12 Insider on happenings and behind-the-scenes information about the conference.

We live in a time where “instant” is too slow. News is old 15 seconds after it becomes “news.” Words like “perspective” and “context” don’t fit when the jerking of knees is the preferred reaction for any and all announcements.

All of which brings Your Humble Correspondent to the topic of football scheduling. With the advent of the College Football Playoff this season, schedules will be scrutinized more than ever. Deciding which four teams play in the CFB semifinals won’t come down to the single factor of “who did you play and who did you beat?” However, a team’s schedule will be a major factor.

The Big 12 is the only “Big Five” league where every school plays every school every year. The other four conferences will have yearly schedules where somebody won’t play somebody else.  Non-conference scheduling, though, is up to each school. And scheduling of non-league game can produce a collision between past, present and future.

YHC is amused when Tweets tout the “breaking news” of non-conference games that won’t be played for eight to 10 years. This week, it was announced that Oklahoma and Michigan will meet in the regular-season for the first time in a home and home series scheduled for 2025-2026.

And YHC is amazed when schools get ripped for games scheduled eight to 10 years ago.

Baylor faces SMU, Northwestern State and Buffalo in its non-conference schedule. The Bears are coming off their first Big 12 championship and are a preseason top 10 team.  Some in the media are saying that Baylor’s schedule is “soft”.  A six-game home-and-home series with SMU series was scheduled in November of 2010; the Buffalo series was agreed to in March of 2009.

In 2009, Baylor went 1-7 in the Big 12 and won four games. The idea of the Bears contending for a national championship seemed as far-fetched to some as the school having a state-of-the-art on-campus stadium.  Both are now a reality. 

Oklahoma typically plays one outstanding non-conference foe. This year, it’s Tennessee. But when the home-and-home series was scheduled in 2005, few expected the Volunteers to be coming off its fifth losing season in the last six.

Last season, North Dakota State upset Kansas State in the season opener for both teams. The Bison went on to win the school’s third consecutive Football Championship Subdivision national title.

So, when it became known that Iowa State would open the 2014 season facing North Dakota State, the cries of “WHAT?” and “WHY?” trended in social media. The game contract was signed in 2007 … and the Bison went 10-1 that season, but followed up with 6-5 and 3-8 campaigns. Plus, going into 2014, the Bison will be under a new head coach.

Kansas State and Auburn will play in Manhattan this season. The game was agreed upon in 2006. At that time, K-State had a different coach and a different athletic director. That was also before the high-and-mighty Southeastern Conference had become a factory for national championships. Auburn has won a national title and played for another since 2006, each time under a different coach … and the Tigers’ coach in 2006 was Tommy Tuberville, now at Cincinnati after a stopover at Texas Tech.

Baylor is also getting grief for announcing that in 2019 it will face Incarnate Word, an FCS team based in San Antonio that would be celebrating its 10th season playing football in ‘19. Keep in mind that future schedules aren’t chiseled on stone tablets. In 2010, Texas and Notre Dame announced a four-game home-and-home series – 2015, 2016, 2019, 2020.

That’s already been reduced to two games, although it’s possible the schools could eventually play the third and fourth games in the series. The alteration came about because Notre Dame recently announced it has scheduled games with Georgia in 2017 and 2019.

YHC is not saying Baylor won’t face Incarnate Word in 2019. But it’s apparent that games scheduled for eight to 10 years from now can look quite a bit different once game day arrives. 

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