While it's not about the sport I'd prefer it to be about, yesterday we found out just how the Syracuse Orange basketball schedule gets made each year. Donna Ditota provides the interesting read on Syracuse.com, which is an update on a similar piece she created back in 2014. Once again, she speaks with Kip Wellman, SU's director of basketball operations.
This time around, we get some of the same questions (why Colgate and Cornell and how involved is Jim?), but some newer ones too -- including further concerns about the ACC's new 20-game schedule for 2019 and fitting in as many traditional (read: Big East) rivals as we can. Some of the highlights:
Boeheim wont' talk schedule during the season. Due to the way the Orange do things (not scheduling out too far in advance), that usually means most of the work is done postseason. Wellman says that home-and-homes make things easier in some ways, but making dates work in terms of students being on campus, building availability, finals, etc. is always tough.
The formula for scheduling:
A combination of things, according to Wellman. RPI is one metric, returning players is another, while he tries to balance those with last year's finish and this year's expectations. Local teams are big (we'll address again later), but dates working out is the tougher and ultimately most important part.
Random games like North Florida:
Wellman first accounts for all the givens (early-season tournaments, ACC/B1G Challenge, secured home-and-homes), then sees what dates are left. He typically asks the coaching staff which schools they know want a game, and also make some calls around the country, to programs where he knows someone or knows they need a game. In this case, Wellman said, he knew North Florida needed one, so he made the call and booked the date.
The importance of recruiting:
"It's huge for (Syracuse). We've obviously had success in New York, New Jersey, Philadelphia, the Baltimore-Washington area. So if we get a chance to start a series with Villanova, it's great for us. We know we get a chance to play in the heart of Philly. And a lot of those kids we recruit can see us up close and personal. But also, it helps that we can sell them, 'Hey, if you come to Syracuse, we're going to take you back to Philly to play in front of your home crowd.'"
The 20-game schedule:
Not going to help matters from what Wellman indicates. Starting the conference schedule earlier means less available dates, and you also want to maximize revenues with home games. He didn't address the ACC/Big Ten Challenge, but he did mention it's going to be tough to play more than one or two of the old Big East foes (Georgetown, St. John's, UConn, Villanova) per year. As we've mentioned here before, those are definitely getting cut over the random home game vs. Holy Cross or someone else.
Cornell and Colgate:
Pretty much exactly the same as last time. Jim's neighborly and likes to help out those programs, since it cuts their travel costs and they get a payout from the game to help fund whatever it is they need. Wellman mentioned that every school that comes to the Carrier Dome to play a one-off date gets a payout, though he declined to say how much (and doesn't have to share since SU's a private school).
Plenty more in the article, too. So if you haven't read that, go ahead and do so. And maybe after, pray for a football version of this post to be accompanied by announcements on every open date from now through 2024...