Why the bad schedule?

I'd imagine that most readers are already familiar with this topic. I'm recapping it for the sake of reference, and for any infrequent visitors. Quickly, and not in much depth though.

I am not defending including Texas Southern on the schedule this year. That action cannot be defended, and I am alternating between scorn and indifference towards the upcoming game. I don't like that it's being played, and I don't care for another round of jokes headed our way as a result.

In short, TSU happened because of stadium expansion, and because of Bob Mulcahy. The expansion changed the financial math. Rutgers makes about $1.5 million in profit for each home game. Revenue projections for the newly-expanded stadium hold that it can be paid off in RU football plays seven gome dates a year at that number. Hence, Rutgers either needed to play seven home games this season, or play a one-off road date against a "name" opponent with a guarantee equal or greater than $1.5 million dollars. Teams were interested, but not at that price. With the athletic department in the red, and the broader University facing fiscal issues, there were no other feasible options.

The athletic department did try to bring in other, BCS conference schools to Piscataway this year as part of a home and home series, but ultimately failed in those efforts.

In its search, Rutgers officials had conversations with as many as 11 BCS conference schools, including Clemson, Colorado, Duke, Indiana, Kansas State, Kentucky, North Carolina, Ole Miss, Virginia and Washington State.Rutgers was believed to be close to a deal to host Indiana on Oct. 10, but the Big 10 program opted for a bigger payday to play at Virginia. Rutgers officials also explored moving its 2010 contest with North Carolina to this season, but the Tar Heels brass chose a home date against The Citadel instead. Matchups with Colorado and Kentucky were discussed, but both schools had games already scheduled with rival Big East programs.

I will make no apologies for playing FIU. Navy dropped Rutgers with no warning, and there were few options available to replace them on short notice. What really is a problem though is this Texas Southern game.

For years, Rutgers fans eyed open 2008 and 2009 dates on the schedule with tredpidation. The program was bailed out by Fresno State last year, but wouldn't receive another last minute reprieve. Quality OOC games need to be scheduled years in advance. I wasn't sure why exactly the former A.D. Bob Mulcahy got away from that; formerly bringing in the likes if Michigan State, Illinois, Maryland, and UNC. Last year's last-minute scrambling seemed ultimately destined for failure. The new athletic director, Tim Pernetti, is moving things in the right direction, but the schedule looks weak for the next several years.

One excuse for Mulcahy is that the whole aborted series with ND threw a wrench into everything. There was never a finalized agreement, but there were tentative plans to play the Domers in South Bend and Giants Stadium over the next decade. Once again, I think expansion threw a wrench into the plans. Owing to Stadium Expansion, the proposed G.S. deal did not make financial sense for the Rutgers program. (The specifics of the Army deal make it quite different in that regard).

Mulcahy's worst sin may have been his infatuation with the service academies, specifically Army. Playing Army is great for a lot of reasons; great tradition, campus, location, etc... However, they aren't very good at football. Haven't been for a while, and likely won't be for some time. Every year, in lieu of an actual, competitive home and home OOC matchup, Rutgers is saddled with the Black Knights. This matchup will bring us to Yankee and Giants Stadium over the next few years, but they're still taking the place of a better game in the schedule.

Yes, the unbalanced Big East schedule (alternating 4/3 home/away) makes this all much more complex, but it shouldn't be too much of a stumbling block. Other Big East programs haven't had our issues in regards to scheduling. Most of them haven't been undertaking a complex (and, absolutely necessary for the program's long term growth) stadium expansion, but that's not a great excuse. Schedule a quality OOC matchup (i.e., on the Navy level) to "balance" out the 4-3 into a 4-4 every year. Then, schedule two other BCS conference OOC games a year. One home, one away. Obviously, these have to be scheduled years in advance; gotta junk the current ad-hoc setup for long-term scheduling, as Pernetti appears to be doing. To fill out the schedule, play two cupcakes. One MAC-level team, and one FCS. It's getting harder to find the former (with demand pushing their guarantees up), which I suspect led to the 2-1 with Tulane. However, if 7 home games a year is necessary, this is the only feasible way to do it.

Update: in response to queries, I am aware of Buffalo dropping Rutgers several years back. I chose not to mention that because they arguably gave enough notice, and it's not like they would have noticeably improved the schedule.

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