Teeples: 3 years into BYU football's independence, scheduling is still a rough road
There are a couple Notre Dame games on the distant horizon in Lavell Edwards Stadium, but other than that the cupboard is currently pretty bare. While it’s not time to panic, considering the miracles Holmoe has pulled off to this point, it’s still likely future home games will be light on the big names and heavy on the bottom half of FBS.
Conference expansion, conference game expansion
As the landscape of college football has seismically been altered, so too has the number of teams in each conference and subsequently the number of league games each team is playing. The Big-12, Big Ten and Pac-12 each play nine league games. The ACC will do so once Syracuse and Pitt join next year.
The SEC, too, led by none other than Nick Saban himself, is discussing the adoption of a nine-game slate.
Those moves are bad for Holmoe & Co. It reduces the number of available games against schools from major conferences drastically. Schools that normally finish in the middle of those conferences will be looking to fill their non-conference lineups with easy wins, as league games are tougher.
Plus, those schools will be looking for more home games to guarantee the lucrative seventh home game each season. BYU seeking home-and-home arrangements will be a much tougher sale.
It’s not an independence killer, but it probably means more non-power-conference teams on the schedule than fans would like.
The help of the Irish
Like it or not, BYU and Notre Dame are bound together.
The schools have five games left on a long-term contract, and as fellow independents, they can rely on each other to fill those tough late-season game slots.
But starting in 2014 Notre Dame has a contract in place to play five ACC teams per season in football while all its other programs will officially compete in the conference.
The announcement of that agreement left the nation — as well as Provo — mulling over what the move means to other school’s agreements with Notre Dame.
The Irish announced in 2012 they were cancelling games against Michigan from 2015–2017. Traditional matchups against Purdue, Michigan State and others could face a similar fate.
The question now is, should Holmoe and Cougar Nation be worried similarly?
Yes, to a point.
So far, BYU’s deal with Notre Dame seems to be pretty safe, but with five games against ACC teams, Stanford and USC as done deals, and traditional rivalries like Navy every year, that leaves only four slots for games BYU might fill. Beyond those remaining five games in the contract with the Cougars, who knows?
Any day the Irish could call and end it.
Independence is still the right course
This year’s schedule is great, and next year’s is good. Most fans would probably argue that even the years beyond that look a lot better than games against annual meetings with Wyoming, Colorado State, New Mexico and SDSU.
Given time, Holmoe now has a track record of making good things happen. Building on that will just be a bit harder moving forward.
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