2036: A College Football Scheduling Odyssey

Jon Joseph Editorials

“I know I’ve made some very poor decisions recently, but I can give you my complete assurance that my work will be back to normal. I’ve still got the greatest enthusiasm and confidence in the mission. And I want to help you.”HAL 9000 from 2001: A Space Odyssey (although it could be any guy pleading with his wife pre-divorce).

The year 2001 has come and gone without Dave being lost in space. But isn’t scheduling a college football (CFB) game out in the year 2036 just as fanciful as HAL running amok? In 2036, Clemson is scheduled to travel to Norman, Oklahoma to play the first game in a home-and-home series with the Sooners. (See you later, Sooners?)

Clemson and Oklahoma have a CFP rematch scheduled for 2036.

That got me thinking. What will the CFB landscape look like in 2036, when kids born in 2019 will be matriculating as freshmen at Clemson, OU and Oregon?

Let’s Take a Trip to the Future!

Will Dabo Swinney have joined the AARP? And will his salary be $25M a year or $30M? Will St. Nick Saban have retired? (Most likely.)

Will network and cable TV be around, or will those of us still standing be floating down stream? Will we be “viewing” games in 3D, via the chip inserted in our wet computers (our brains)? Will we be able to stand or sit anywhere we like in the stadium, including on the sideline? Will your “man cave” be a holograph?

Will offensive and defensive linemen weigh in at 400 bills or more? Will guys run a 3.9 40? Will 70-yard field goals be routine?

Will UW’s and Miami’s stadiums be under water? Will we be able to “beam” anywhere, including away games? Will the games be played by human beings or by avatars?

Will I, at 89, be able to shoot my age?

Will John Ross’s 40-yard dash record be broken by 2036?

The answer to the last query is a resounding “no.” But as to the others? To be determined.

Meanwhile, for the present, the following are the current scheduling models with which we have to live. If only Clemson vs. Oklahoma in 2036 wasn’t a decade and a half away …

Cupcake City

Put this on the folks in College Station, Texas, but in 2018, Oregon basically played three pre-season games. It’s a tribute to Duck fans that tens of thousands showed up to watch these … er … competitions.

In 2016, UW was the second Pac-12 team, and the last one to date, to be handed a golden ticket to CFB’s Final Four. UW’s out-of-conference opponents that season? Humpty, Dumpty and Rutgers. To date, having flamed out against Alabama, Auburn, at Boise, Ohio State and Penn State, the home-and-home sweep of Rutgers is likely the vaunted Coach Chris Petersen’s high-water mark. This season? Our “furry friends” up north battle Dumpty and Humpty in Seattle, and instead of tripping to Jersey, the Huskies mush to Provo, Utah to play BYU. Holy HAL!

Rutgers was a sacrificial lamb in 2016.

And what does UW’s conference schedule look like in 2019? It gets Oregon and Washington State at home. Oh, and by the way, USC and Utah also trip to the jumping-off point in Alaska. I have to ask ya, how do you like them apples? Scheduling for 2019 sure is about as even as the surface of the moon. When it comes to getting a fair shake, these dice seem to be loaded.

Alabama’s 2019 out-of-conference schedule: ACC powerhouse Duke, in Atlanta, Bama’s home away from home. Then, The Tide rolls home with games against New Mexico State (such a natural opponent) and Southern Mississippi (have to cover all of William Faulkner land and not just Oxford and Starkville, right?) Then, the Saint Nick’s battle at Western Carolina. Oh my!

But when you play in a conference that is barely over .500 in its bowl games the last three seasons, and when you have to battle South Carolina and Tennessee in conference cross-over games (while Auburn plays Georgia and Florida), you need these kind of breathers, do you not?

Bama has a cakewalk schedule in 2019.

Baylor, always a team to take on all comers (and goers), goes large in 2019, facing Stephen F. Austin, last seen biting the dust with Jim Bowie and Davey Crockett at the Alamo. THE Ohio State University plays three Group of 5 teams out of conference, all without saying, “Good-bye, Columbus!” Meanwhile, the Buckeyes’ buddies up north in Michigan play a top-25 Army and a top-10 Notre Dame. Would you rather “Buck” the Wolverines’ out-of-conference schedule or have “Eyes” on three Group of 5 teams?

In conference, these ridiculous out-of-conference schedules aren’t a problem. But when trying to make a Final Four whose Playoff Committee cannot count beyond its index finger in the “L” column, this scheduling inequality becomes a problem.

Out here on the Left Coast, we are dinged left and right for weak out-of-conference scheduling. Baylor’s out-of-conference cupcake fest may well be criticized by the boys and girls in Bristol, as well. Heck, considering Ohio State plays for the FOX-owned B1G Network, even the Buckeyes may get some flak from the World Wide Leader.

But to call out Bama? Blasphemy.

Meanwhile, the Ducks are playing Auburn in Dixie, Cal is teeing it up at Ole Miss, the Beavers are playing Oklahoma State, UCLA is playing at Cincinnati and against Oklahoma at home, Wazzu trips to Houston, and of course, both USC and Stanford play Notre Dame. Plus, the Cardinal plays last season’s B1G West champ, Northwestern, and travels to AAC champ, UCF.

The ESPN Football Power Index’s list of the 20 most difficult 2019 schedules features 10 teams from the SEC (big surprise), but a surprising seven from the Pac-12. The B1G has 2, the Big 12, 1 and the ACC, zero.

Four Pac-12 North teams are ranked in practically every pre-season top 25. Utah is also ranked. Many Conference of Champions CFB teams are, contrary to popular belief, stepping up out of conference. So, you don’t have to travel with a chip-confused HAL into deep space, or, travel with Dabo, Lincoln, Marty and Doc to 2036, to know that CFB scheduling is spaced out.

Is this any way to run a “Playoff?”

Jon Joseph 
Georgetown, TexasTop Photo by Eugene Johnson


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