Friday, February 13, 2009

What Could Have Been: North Carolina vs Penn State - October 10, 2009

Unhappy about the 2009 Penn State out-of-conference schedule? You should be! Four cupcakes? Puh-lease! This putrid schedule does nothing to help Penn State's - and even the Big Ten's - national reputation.

I have heard all the excuses: Syracuse was coming off of a 10 win season when we scheduled them and are a BCS school. Yeah, so are Iowa State, Duke, Washington, and Mississippi State. Just because we made an effort to strengthen our schedule eight years ago for the upcoming season doesn't mean we can't do so seven months in advance. Following the 2001 college football season, the Orange (or Orangmen, as they were known at the time) were 10-3 and basking in a 2nd place Big East finish to the National Champion Miami Hurricanes. Life was good. However, seven seasons later and Syracuse has amassed a whopping 26 wins in 83 games.

Who else is on that lovely 2009 OOC schedule? Perennial doormat Temple makes another appearance - as has been the case since 2006. They haven't won more than five games since 1990 and have only 16 winning seasons since 1946. And don't expect to see someone replace the Owls any time soon... they're on PSU's schedule through 2012.

Syracuse? Check. Temple? Check. Next up? How about Akron. Oh those pesky Zips (WTF is a zip?). The Zips have 32 winning seasons since 1946. However they have only been playing at the FBS level since 1987. Since then they have six winning seasons but have never won more than seven games. What a powerhouse!

Last - and certainly least - is Eastern Illinois, Penn State's final OOC matchup on October 10th. The EIU Panthers are an FCS team. The Panthers are a strong team at the FCS level, appearing in the National Tournament 12 times since 1981. Prior to '81 they were a Division II team, winning the 1978 National Championship and finishing 2nd in 1980. With all due respect to Eastern Illinois, they have no business being on Penn State's schedule. But who should be?

As I linked to earlier, during the last week of January there were rumors swirling that Penn State was seeking to replace EIU with another BCS opponent - most likely form the ACC. Great! Who could it be? People were yearning for Miami, Florida State, or Virginia Tech. I would have taken them or any of the others except for Duke... though the Blue Devils are more respectable than EIU and even Syracuse and Akron right now. Well we all know this didn't come about and the Penn State schedule for 2009 is finalized. Who's to blame? Well, besides Penn State's higher powers that crave eight home games?

I don't know for sure but, besides Penn State administrators and football staff, possibly someone or a group of people at Miami, Clemson, or North Carolina. Each of those schools has a weak OOC game - or no game at all - on that date, the day in which EIU travels to Happy Valley.

OK, I can't really blame Miami. The Hurricanes host Oklahoma on October 3rd. They also play OOC games with Central Florida and South Florida, two programs on the rise in recent years. Both FBS, too. On the 10th they have Florida A&M. The Rattlers are not going to beat Miami. However, if I were Randy Shannon or Kirby Hocutt I wouldn't want to replace a surefire win with a toss up/loss by switching the FCS Rattlers for the BCS Nittany Lions. You are forgiven, Miami.

What about Clemson? The Tigers sport a bye the Saturday of the 10th of October. Surely that could have been switched to accommodate an intriguing Penn State-Clemson game. Clemson hosts Middle Tennessee State, Central Michigan, and Coastal Carolin and travels to South Carolina for their OOC games in '09. Best case scenario would have been Clemson canceling their matchup with the Chanticleers and traveling to Beaver Stadium on the 10th. The Tigers OOC is tougher than Penn State's, if only because they have South Carolina and Central Michigan, an underrated FBS team. Terry Don Phillips and Dabo Swinney, you're forgiven... I guess.

That leaves one goat: North Carolina and Butch Davis. What the hell, man? Is The Citadel, Connecticut, East Carolina, and Georgia Southern too much for ya? You don't want to drop the FCS Eagles for us? Sure, the Eagles are a strong FCS team, with six national championships. But you're Butch Davis! These are the Tar Heels, a program on the rise! I hope Dick Baddour and Tim Curley at least had conversations about dropping their FCS guys (anyone can be bought out) and doing a sweet home-and-home deal for '09-'10. You have some explaining to do, Baddour and Curley!

I don't pin this blame squarely on Penn State or North Carolina. This was a team effort to have a terrible OOC schedule. Congratulations. Mission accomplished.

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