I’ll preface this post by saying that I realize that college football scheduling is easier said than done. Teams have to balance conference and non-conference schedules with all sorts of logistical, recruiting and monetary concerns. However.
I’m wondering if major teams, at least in the north, ever try to schedule more attractive games late in the season. And by attractive, I mean geographically attractive. Let’s say, a game at Tulane or SDSU or Hawai’i. Or even FIU in late November, as opposed to early season. It doesn’t seem like northern teams do that at all.
Especially, if you’re a team that is/was probation, like Ohio State. In 2012, when the Buckeyes were on a bowl ban, their non-conference schedule consisted of Miami-Ohio, UCF, Cal and UAB. As I said, I know there’s a huge monetary concern here, especially with the big dawg programs. Iif folks like to moan about the kids missing out on a bowl game, then why not create a de-facto bowl game. Take a look at the map below.
I would be willing to bet that a mid or lower-level program like Tulane or SDSU would bend over backwards to host a Power-Five team once in a while. Obviously, most Power-Five teams do expect to get to a bowl game but let’s be honest – the Belk Bowl or Motor City Bowl aren’t exactly in prime holiday destinations.
In college basketball, which admittedly has way more games, major conference teams will try to schedule at least one high-profile tournament per year or every other year. This year, Pitt has played an exhibition series in the Caribbean and will make the trip to Hawai’i for the Maui Invitational. In years passed, Pitt has played in the Jimmy V Classic and the Coaches vs Cancer Classic in NYC.
The original purpose of a bowl game was to reward teams for a successful season by playing another team in a picturesque setting. The original bowls – Rose, Sugar, Orange, etc – were in warm-weather, fun cities. That’s a good reward for a brutal season. Because the definition of success has expanded monumentally, the locales for bowls aren’t necessarily in the most attractive places, no offense to the likes of El Paso or Birmingham.
I think that (northern) Power-Five teams could schedule a year-end non-conference game in an attractive locale at least once per four years. By scheduling a late-season non-conference game, recruits would get at least one attractive year-end trip during their time in college, in between bowl games in Detroit or Boise.