Schedules. Made years in advance, never knowing what the future will bring.
Rutgers once scheduled a home and home series with the University of Tampa, only to have the school drop football. Personally, I think they was skeered ta play us!
The Big Ten does not want its teams playing FCS schools. When it comes to the end of the season and the CFP, strength of schedule does make a difference. Jim Delany stated at Media Day that going forward, Big Ten teams should not play FCS schools (unless already scheduled) and must play at least one P5 (or Autonomy 5 as the commish called them) team, along with the nine conference games beginning n 2016.
So where does Rutgers stand in terms of that directive? Next year, RU will have five B1G games at home (Iowa, Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, and PSU). They also have two non-con games at home in Howard (FCS) and New Mexico (FBS). On the road, RU travels to Washington for the first of a home-and-home with the Huskies. Since the Howard game is already on the books, Rutgers is okay to play it.
The same goes for 2017 when it plays three non-cons to open the season: Washington, Morgan State (FCS), and Eastern Michigan. It's a seven-game home schedule as well. As of this date, the schedule is complete. The 2018 slate still needs one more non-con game to go along with a road game at Kansas and a home contest with Miami (FL). The Miami game isn't on RU's website but it was announced a while back and several other schedule sites have it. The 2018 season currently only has six home games (five in the B1G) so we're probably looking for a home game.
For the record, the crossovers in 2017: @ Neb, @ Ill, home for Purdue
And 2018: @ Wis, home for Illinois and Northwestern
You never know what you'll get when you schedule a team five, six, or more years out. Right now, next year's non-con schedule teams are a combined 4-8. The 2017 teams are 4-7. But maybe that's not a bad thing for us right now.
Beyond 2018, the scheduling gets interesting. The only non-con in 2019 is Miami. Will they be better or worse than they are now? Who will their coach be then (or next year even)? And playing out the schedule, it looks like this:
2020 9 B1G + 1 more
9/5 @ UCLA
2021 9 B1G + 2 more
2022 9 B1G + 2 more
2023 9 B1G + 1 more
TBD @Temple AAC
9/16 Virginia Tech ACC
2024 9 B1G + 2 more
9/21 @ Virginia Tech
UCLA is a big jump in quality of the opponent. Assuming Jim Mora keeps it going the way he is now. Temple....well, I don't know how to view that. I'd hope it would be a "good" game, but one that we should win. But that's five years out. Will Matt Ruhle still be their coach? Will Kyle Flood be ours?
And Virginia Tech? An old conference partner, with a coach that some are saying is past his prime. Will they still be playing "Beamerball" in Blacksburg in 2023?
Scheduling is a challenge. Matt Brown at Land Grant Holy Land has his own view on scheduling, one that avoids scheduling a team more than three years into the future. And avoids, as he says, picking and choosing schools that would "qualify" as better teams according to an arbitrary metric. It would certainly avoid a Rutgers-Tampa matchup. And it would allow teams to look for quality pairings instead of throwing darts at the board and hoping you come up with something your fan base wants to see.
There are a lot of schools out there in FBS. Some are good, some are Kansas. What do think? Where should Rutgers be looking as it fills out its future football schedule? See you in the comments section.