I saw an interesting item on Brian Bennett's blog yesterday. Pitt's athletic department has done a wonderful job of putting together quality OOC schedules over the next several years. I've spoken before (sorry, can't find the post at the moment) about how I look at Pitt as an ideal model for the Rutgers athletic department - in terms of success, academic prestige, and fiscal discipline. They've done a masterful job with fundraising (and Tim Pernetti has made the first of many strides here with that), and give their athletic teams all the needed tools to succeed. I look at Pitt though, and I'm still green with envy.
Now, I understand that these deals need to be put together years in advance. Realistically, it'll be at least five years between when a series is announced and the games are actually played. Still, if Pittsburgh can do it, there's no good reason why Rutgers cannot. It's very simple really: they're using the exact same model for scheduling that I've advocated numerous times. Three home and home series games every year (either with BCS conference teams, or "good" mid-major programs like Navy and Utah), arranged in a way to buttress the unbalanced Big East schedule. For instance, two of those OOC games come to Pitt when they only have 3 conference games, and only one OOC team comes in when they have four. To fill out the schedule, buy two games against patsies.
It's not a mystery. The big obstacle to Rutgers playing a competitive out of conference schedule in the near future is Army. They may or may not be on the level of Navy in the coming years, and I wish them well in those pursuits. Right now, treating Army as an equal partner, whatever the secondary benefits, necessarily must result in Rutgers playing a bad out of conference schedule.
I think Tim Pernetti is off to a great start, and he's surrounded by K-Mac and other capable people. After 2009, they have to know what's up (presumably they did earlier, with all the big series announcements several months back). There's a hunger for Rutgers football in New Jersey, but no one wants to pay $70 a ticket to watch a scrimmage. We want good, competitive games. I understand that what happened with the 2009 schedule was a worst case scenario that everyone tried to avoid, but it's bound to happen again without implementing the proper changes. That means, a commitment to long-term scheduling, and jettisoning the Army series once and for all. Please, live up to fan expectations by giving Rutgers football the challenges that it deserves over coming seasons. Give our Scarlet Knights the opportunity to show the world what they can do.