Friday, July 24, 2009

Where's everybody going?

It's become commonplace for teams to fill their schedules with fluff to boost their win totals and ensure bowl eligibility, but there are also plenty of schools that really do try to create some exciting nonconference matchups.

Arizona State has done a pretty good job of getting itself into that second category -- along with this year's game against Georgia, there are upcoming home-and-home series with Illinois, Wisconsin, Notre Dame (including a third game at Cowboys Stadium), LSU and Colorado -- so it has to be a little frustrating for the Devils to be scrambling to fill their schedule once again.

With the announcement this week by San Jose State that the Spartans are dropping ASU in 2010 in favor of a more financially friendly visit to Wisconsin, the Devils have now been left out in the cold two years in a row, resulting in an open spot on the schedule for each of the next three years (although the 2009 spot was filled a couple months ago).

The original culprit was BYU, which dumped ASU in order to play Oklahoma in the first game at Cowboys Stadium this fall (the Devils obviously then backed out of the return game in Provo in 2011). On short notice, the best replacement opponent ASU could come up with for this year was Louisiana-Monroe, which won't exactly boost the ol' strength of schedule.

That particular swap could end up being a good thing for ASU -- they won't be good, so replacing a probable loss to BYU with a probable win against Louisiana-Monroe could be the difference in becoming bowl-eligible -- but the Devils' situation is a good example of why you can't always blame the athletic department for a weak schedule.

It's not like San Jose State is anything special, but the overall trend is what's concerning: When the little guys continue to shop themselves around even after they have scheduling deals in place, more big schools will be left looking for late replacements and we'll end up with more crappy lopsided matchups than ever -- and with EVERYBODY trying to maximize revenue, this problem isn't going away anytime soon.

No comments: