What if SU could construct something resembling its old eastern independent schedule?
For the younger fans out there, before the Big East sponsored football, Syracuse and a bunch of other Northeast-ish teams played each other nearly every year. They were all independents, and there wasn’t much forcing them to play one another. But collective history from the 1940s through 1980s, geographic proximity and a little hatred kept the games interesting and on the schedule most seasons.
Now, we don’t want to go back to the Big East, or what became the American Athletic Conference, or especially not FBS independence (look at what UMass is dealing with right now). But it’s fun to think about how the Orange could potentially construct that sort of schedule again -- though in a manner that probably kept more competitive balance and more teams in the regular rotation.
In the comments, I tossed something resembling the following idea out there:
Annual opponents (three home, three away)
Every other year opponents (three per season)
Remaining three games
Again, this is never happening. But it’s fun to visualize a more meaningful (from an emotional standpoint) schedule that potentially helps re-energize a fan base that doesn’t necessarily respond to annual dates vs. Wake Forest and NC State. It’s likely they will one day. But the history isn’t there for those ACC matchups the way they were for some of those long-running eastern independent games.
Of the most common opponents in Syracuse football history, the proposed schedule above hits the top 11 FBS teams on that list (UConn’s the only one outside of that group). So yeah, that’s pretty ideal from a historic perspective.
Competitive-wise, there’s a lot to like too, provided SU’s back at playing average football at least. Of the annual matchups, you have a solid win (Army), and at least two toss-ups each year, if not more. The rotating games feature a nice mix of challenges and easier games depending on the year. Virginia Tech and Navy have really been the only consistent winners in recent seasons (though Miami’s probably back on the upswing).
There are plenty more interesting ideas for independent Syracuse schedules out there. So try it out for yourself. What opponents would you put on an independent Orange football schedule? These assorted eastern independents? Or perhaps you’d rather barnstorm the country a bit. The world’s your oyster...