As you're aware, I like talking about Syracuse football's future schedules -- or in some cases, lack thereof. Last week, we discussed how tough that future schedule was going to look. Two weeks before that, it was the addition of Holy Cross, and the list goes on and on.
This week, we take a look at whether or not the Orange football program is actually behind in terms of scheduling, or if it's all just a figment of my (our collective) imagination.
First, the facts. Here's what Syracuse's next four seasons of non-conference schedules look like, starting in 2016:
|Colgate||at LSU||at Notre Dame||Holy Cross|
|USF||Central Michigan||at Maryland|
Not a single full schedule yet, but eight total over the four-year stretch.
And what of the rest of the ACC? You can check the full rundown at the Google Docs link here, but some of the bigger takeaways:
- Including Syracuse, the average number of opponents secured by ACC teams was 11.7 (or nearly 12). That's about four more than the Orange have locked down right now.
- Five different schools had only eight opponents secured: Syracuse, Boston College, Florida State, Louisville and North Carolina. Of those, one (Louisville) has the excuse of changing conferences in the past 12 months. But for the rest... what gives?
- Four different schools had all 16 non-conference opponents set in stone already: Clemson, NC State, Virginia Tech and Wake Forest. The Demon Deacons are actually fully scheduled through 2021 and have three already for 2022. Clemson has three for 2020 so far. NC State has two apiece from 2020 through 2022. The Hokies are one game short of having a full non-conference slate through 2025 (!!!).
The big problem here, as you might guess, is that while it might seem ridiculous to have things scheduled out for a decade, other schools are doing just that. And not just any schools. Our conference-mates, many of which are peer programs that are likely in contention for similar opponents. We've touched on who Syracuse should be trying to schedule for future seasons, but the point still holds firm. While not woefully behind the ENTIRE conference, SU finished one recently-secured Holy Cross date away from being the least-prepared program in the ACC.
So how do we fix that?
Start by worrying about the more difficult opponents -- the "Group of Five" FBS teams that are already getting phone calls in bunches. While SU is locking up FCS teams you can schedule a year out, and mandated major-conference opponents through 2022 (nice job, actually), the lower-tier FBS teams are quickly being taken off the board. These AAC, MAC, C-USA and Sun Belt squads should be the meat of any power conference schedule, but our Orange have yet to really get moving there.
If you haven't been paying attention, Georgia State and Army have already been grabbed off the shortlist we named for 2016 opponents. Meanwhile, our ACC cohorts are already looking pretty solid for 2016 (all but three are already good for two years from now) -- which SOUNDS great, I guess, since less competition for opponents. But SEC teams -- same geography, so very much looking for the same teams to fill out schedules -- operate similarly to SU, and are in no rush to fill out future dockets with teams just yet.
So if we don't get things together soon, for 2016 and beyond, Syracuse could be up against the wall for a limited pool of opponents. And their competition for these limited "body bag games" as some may refer to them? SEC teams. With endless coffers and more enticing offers for a lot of these schools looking for big names to add. Money, national television exposure (a lot of times) and an easier sell to recruits? Seems like things that other schools can give a whole lot easier than we can.
Do it for me, SU? Or if not, then the program? I'd just really like to avoid doubling up on power opponents if we can avoid it (and we can). Thanks!