Written By Sammy Jacobs (@sammyj108)
Non-conference scheduling is a hot topic in college football right and the Indiana Hoosiers are right in the thick of it. We have seen Kevin Wilson tweet out the department’s phone number when the SEC proposed a rule that at least one game a year should be against a “Big 5” conference opponent and Yahoo! Sports’ Pat Forde took a shot at IU. Indiana athletic director Fred Glass has tweaked the future football schedules, trying to make it easier and assure the Hoosiers at least seven home games per season. The Hoosiers have dropped South Florida in favor of Florida International and added two games with the University of Connecticut, but the question still remains. Are the Hoosiers doing it correctly?
After many arguments and discussions with Indiana football fans and other sports writers the conclusion is no. Indiana is not doing themselves any favors with their scheduling strategies. The most glaring example is the most recent season. 2013 was full of hope and high expectations that were shot down with a ridiculous non-conference schedule of Indiana State, Navy, Bowling Green, and Missouri. Aside from Indiana State that schedule is brutal. Navy runs an offense that is so difficult to stop, Bowling Green beat out a very talented Northern Illinois team for the MAC Championship, and finally a Missouri team that represented the SEC East in their championship game. Indiana went 2-2 and the loss to Navy all but dashed their hopes at a bowl trip. It will continue this year as the Hoosiers play only six home games and travel to Bowling Green and Missouri for two tough games.
Why does Indiana play a MAC team (or other lower conference teams) on the road every year? Is it the only way to schedule these teams? Probably, and Indiana is not the only school to do this either and it goes beyond just current AD Fred Glass. Under the watch of Rick Greenspan the Hoosiers opened up the 2005 campaign at Central Michigan. In 2006 Indiana visited Ball State. In 2007 the Hoosiers traveled to Kalamazoo to face Western Michigan. So on and so on.
Indiana has a football problem. It is two fold and cyclical. They have issues selling tickets and they have only been to one bowl game since 1994. The Hoosiers are desperate for wins, yet they are so desperate for ticket sales they sacrifice the W for a few thousand (maybe) butts in the seats. For years the big issue is getting the fans from the parking lots into Memorial Stadium, and keeping them there past half time. Something has to change and maybe Glass has realized this after his moves this off-season. However, let me play schedule maker for a few minutes. Here is what I would do.
The Hoosiers should absolutely play Indiana State while the Big Ten is still allowing teams to play FCS squads. Indiana State makes sense. It is usually a sure win and believe it or not Indiana State travels well to Bloomington. Next, Indiana should schedule a MAC team like Akron. A team that is bad but still carries the FBS label. I would try not to schedule them on the road though. By the third game the Hoosiers should step it up a little bit, but not too much. The Hoosiers would benefit from playing the other bottom feeders from the “Big 5”, Kansas, Iowa State, Kentucky (yes that Kentucky), Wake Forest (who is on the schedule), Colorado, and possibly a Washington State. Starting in 2018 the Big Ten will be going to 9 conference games so three games should suffice, but here’s a fourth if you want it. Play another directional MAC school. Of course this scheduling theory does not have the glam that some may want, but it does offer the Hoosiers a shot at six wins every year.
Hoosier fans should want wins. They should scream for Fred Glass to contact Kentucky to renew the Bourbon Barrel Game, before it’s too late. Enough of playing idiotic games like Navy, and Missouri, or road games at North Texas and Bowling Green. Hoosier fans should love their cupcakes, I sure do. Let’s be honest does IU have a realistic shot at the Playoff? Absolutely not, at least not yet. So let us get six wins and play in the Pinstripe Bowl.