Flashback to late January 2016. The Syracuse Orange football program had six primary options available to fill its 2017 schedule. This was problematic at that time. As a group, we hoped it would be resolved in a reasonable amount of time.
Now back to the present. The Syracuse Orange football program has six primary options available to fill its 2017 schedule. Not a goddamn thing has changed, while other teams have gone out there scheduling every year from 2017 through 2032. Syracuse hasn't announced a non-conference series since the Wisconsin news came about.
Why? Or, without that answer, maybe we just go ahead and look at the reasons each of the available teams may or may not end up on the SU schedule.
As a reminder, the Orange are in need of an extra Group of Five game (preferably at home) to go with a yet-to-be-scheduled FCS home game and a road game against LSU. The six candidates for said game: Bowling Green, Coastal Carolina, Florida International, Tulane, UL-Lafayette, UL-Monroe.
Why they might: Obviously Dino Babers just left BGSU, and both him and his staff still have close ties to the administration over there. Syracuse recruited Ohio pretty heavily when Babers got on the job, so this would be a chance to get right in front of those same kids.
Why they might not: The Falcons need a home game and Syracuse might prefer their own home game in 2017 (in return for a road date later). On top of that, even if the Orange agreed to head to Bowling Green next fall, the return date wouldn't be until 2020 at earliest. Current schedule gaps might call for a sooner return, but it's not also not a deal-breaker.
Why they might: Coastal's still in the process of transitioning to FBS, which makes them an attractive option to pick up a likely win while also counting that W toward bowl eligibility. On top of that, there's plenty of openings in future Chanticleers schedules too as newcomers to football's top level. That could mean multiple dates, and soon -- exactly what Syracuse needs.
Why they might not: It's tough to tell what Coastal Carolina's scheduling tendencies will look like just yet, but they already have two road non-conference games for 2017, which definitely makes it less likely. Also, Syracuse gets exposure to South Carolina recruits (if they were looking for them) by playing Clemson every year, though the Tigers do visit SU in 2017.
Why they might: A school in South Florida you can probably beat? Sold. FIU's looking for a home game given the two 2017 road dates currently on the docket. It's much easier to stomach that trip for the Orange if you're headed to a talent hotbed, though.FIU has openings coming up too, so the return date wouldn't be far off.
Why they might not: If they're really set on getting three non-conference road games next year, Syracuse passes. Additionally, the Orange already head down to Florida in 2017, when they face Florida State. Two trips to Florida and one to Louisiana sounds like a lot of travel for a P5 team.
Why they might: We play the Green Wave every so often already, and FBS private schools tend to help each other out with scheduling here and there. They have a road date open this year, and a home date open next year, making it a very easy fit. Their new, on-campus stadium makes for a nicer trip than their old home at the cavernous Superdome. They check a box and are a fairly winnable game. Dan and I also talk about them a bunch on the podcast, which would make more sense if we scheduled them again.
Why they might not: If the Orange are actually looking to attract Louisiana recruits (seems unlikely in the new regime), that box was checked by previous Tulane matchups and the LSU games too. Syracuse is already headed to Baton Rouge next September. Back-to-back years in the state of Louisiana seems odd for a Northeast program.
Why they might: Lafayette's down right now and wouldn't be above taking some extra money for a loss, even all the way in New York. They're probably looking for another P5 game to fill out the rest of the 2017 schedule. Plenty of empty space in upcoming years means this could help SU out for a few years.
Why they might not: Lafayette doesn't HAVE TO add another P5, with Texas A&M already on the schedule. They also don't HAVE TO go on the road if they don't want to. And again, is Syracuse really going to tie up so many years in Louisiana when they're limited in their ability/desire to recruit the area?
Why they might: It's tough to get people to get P5 teams to Monroe. And like Lafayette, they're down and might be fine with taking the money for a loss up in New York.
Why they might not: They still don't have an FCS team on their schedule, have limited use for scheduling a team from New York and they could probably use a home date more than anything else in 2017. Like Lafayette, Monroe's not a key area for recruits at all, even if Louisiana is. Also like Lafayette, does Syracuse want to tie up this many years in Louisiana?
Though there are six primary options, Syracuse does have others they could potentially look at, with varying degrees of (admittedly low) likelihood: Air Force, Akron, Arkansas State, Ball State, Old Dominion, Middle Tennessee, Nevada, New Mexico State, San Jose State, Southern Miss, UNLV, Western Michigan. These schools all have one opening, and most don't have an FCS team and/or have P5 spots full already. But just like the Orange could still schedule a P5 team like Arizona (despite it doing no favors for either school), these G5 programs could potentially look at the Orange too.
I'd say "we'll see what happens," but truthfully, we might not. For a decade now, Syracuse has chosen to put its fate in the hands of schools willing to schedule further out, instead of deciding these things for itself. They've managed to lock up power conference teams through 2021, but can't fill out half a schedule past 2019.
Obviously we all want Orange football to be successful. And I'm sure those in the athletic department do too. But the way things are going, it's certainly hard to believe this is being made a priority. Hopefully I'm wrong and sometime in the next month, a raft of future games are locked up. However, I'm not holding my breath.