As far as trial balloons go, it's hard not to read too much into Keith Sargeant's suggestion yesterday that two I-AAs could be on the docket for this coming season.
Yes, other schools are doing it too; however, if you take the case of USF, they:
1) Weren't planning on playing two I-AAs initially.
2) Needed the game to get to six home games, not seven.
3) Already have Miami and FSU on the schedule.
Having another home game next season may be necessary for the bottom line. As seen with teams like Texas Tech last year, most people honestly don't pay too much attention to OOC schedules, and only care about wins and losses.
Just because Rutgers may be able to get away with it, that doesn't mean that they should. How can they expect the fans to be excited over an out of conference home slate of FIU, Army, and two I-AA teams? Say Rutgers does have a good team in 2009; their credibility goes completely out the window with that kind of schedule. That kind of OOC slate would also represent by far the worst schedule that Rutgers has played in the Schiano era. Why exactly are we downgrading when things are starting to look up?
I know that the economics of any deal are a stumbling block, as the payout for any one shot game on the road would have to exceed a home gate. However, I would much prefer playing a road game against a quality opponent. Rutgers is going to play 12 games this season; if the choice is between having Rutgers fans subsidize a glorified scrimmage, or opposing fans paying for a competitive game (even with no return date), there's no reason to be afraid of the latter.
Is the athletic department really cognizant of how poorly this move will go over with all of us? There's the perceived "not receiving adequate bang for buck" aspect of course. The A.D. is in a difficult scheduling position - many schools are unwilling to play in Piscataway. Worse more, their proposals may not even make fiscal sense for us. There's also the fact that Navy and Buffalo have canceled games on us recently. The very reason this is a problem is because that mid-majors are much less willing to "sell" games than they used to be. However, it bears most of the responsibility for this mess owing to playing too many road games against mid-majors, and showing a complete aversion for long-term scheduling in recent years. There are compelling reasons to play at Army, Navy, and FAU, but those are outweighed by the bottom line here. It would be better to schedule 2 for 1s and 4 for 2s against lesser FBS teams.
The decision makers need to call ESPN today. Call Michigan, Penn State, Florida, Notre Dame, everyone. If their guarantee can match a home gate, then that's the bitter pill that we have to swallow.
edit: holy hell, typos.