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Spoonful of sugar

Rutgers announced its 2008 schedule today, finalized by the addition of Texas Southern. Additionally, several previously scheduled games were moved for television (link goes to ESPN, the official schedule doesn't appear to have the updated information yet). Athletic director Tim Pernetti announced a future series with Penn State for 2014 (home), and 2015 (away), a 2-for-1 deal with Tulane, and a tentative series with Miami for a decade from now.

The latter developments are a start. Rutgers can't keep playing home and homes with the likes of Army and FIU. The PSU and Miami games are far in the future, and while a positive, don't do much to improve the schedule in the next few years.

All of the relevant information, as far as finances, other teams' willingness to visit Rutgers, the Notre Dame deal falling through, etc... that led to this year's impasse has not been made public, although there is evidence that Rutgers did try to land better opponents. (As an aside, it's interesting how some of that information leaked out, as did talk of playing Tulane.)

Typically, what you'll see throughout the country is that future OOC slates are set years in advance. It's much more difficult to find an opponent on short notice. Rutgers found future paycheck games in Ohio and Kent State, and got Tulane to agree to lopsided series, but couldn't find an adequate partner (re: home and home with a BCS team) for a game at Rutgers Stadium in 2009. Penn State and Miami are just what the doctor ordered; the athletic department needs to line up other marquee games far in advance in order to avoid future mishaps.

What's implicit in today's announcement is that the OOC schedules for 2010 and 2011 are as follows:

2010: Army, @FIU, Norfolk State, UNC, Tulane
2011: @Army, I-AA, Navy, @UNC, Ohio

According to SK.com, "Rutgers is also in negotiations for future series with institutions in several Bowl Championship Subdivision conferences. " There are still future holes to fill, but the biggest immediate scheduling priority is that Army simply has to go from the next two schedules, and replaced by a BCS conference team willing to play at Rutgers next year, and accept a road game in 2011. Otherwise, the next two schedules may lack multiple FCS teams, but they will still be subpar. Army may end up solving our problems by buying out of their remaining games.

Further problems loom in 2012. With only three conference home games, Rutgers will have difficulty lining up seven home games that season, considering that they are already scheduled to play at Navy and Tulane.

The uneven Big East schedule makes things a lot more complicated, but other Big East teams haven't had our level of scheduling woes in recent years. My suggestion to fix the scheduling woes is to play three "good" OOC opponents every year as part of home and home deals. To fill out the schedule, find two "bad" teams - one mid-major and one FCS, that are willing to take a surefire loss for an easy payday It's becoming more difficult to arrange those games, but the Ohio and Kent State deals show that it's possible if you don't wait until the last minute.

Tim Pernetti, Kevin MacConnell, and Greg Schiano have their work cut out for them.

edit: Pernetti, as usual, hits the right notes about what still needs to be done.

And we're also working on '12 and '13 and some closer years, and talking to a lot of BCS schools about the opportunity. I feel this is an issue that we needed to deal with this year and we needed to get it done, and get it behind us. We're at the point where we're ready to do that, but we're going to be addressing this concern in our longterm plan for football scheduling every day until we feel like we're in a comfortable position and that we have a solid non-conference schedule for the next 10 years. And that's really my plan, if we can be here a couple months from now with a solid, longterm plan in our football schedule. Because two years in a row Rutgers has had to come out of the gate with a TBD on the schedule initially, and I intend to make sure that doesn't happen again.