Big news out of ND this week with a confirmation that we are going to be playing Syracuse in a four game series with two games at ND and two games at the Meadowlands. Sounds like the games will be at ND in 2015 and 2017 and at the Meadowlands in 2014 and 2016.
Under ordinary cirucmstances, I wouldn't have a problem with signing them up for a series. Syracuse has pretty good tradition, and Doug Marrone might get them turned around in the next couple years. If we're going to schedule someone from the Big East, I can live with playing Syracuse. And if these games were "buy games" or some sort of 2 for 1 thing where we play 2 at ND and one at the Meadowlands as our "neutral" site game, I'd be fine with that.
The problem here is that the Meadowlands games are going to be treated as "road" games in this series. In other words, Syracuse is taking up one of our valuable home and home spots. The home and home spots that fans were hoping we could use for an Alabama or Miami or Texas type series. With the 7-4-1 scheduling model, we only have four road games to play with a year. Now, we're going to have to work with fewer spots open for a potential heavyweight in years 2014-2017.
I would love to believe that Swarbrick has some master plan to fit in the Cuse series and squeeze in a marquee series, but color me skeptical. I like that he cancelled the Baylor series, but I have no idea if that series is going to be used for a 1-1-1 setup or if he's just trying to get more games in New York City.
Can't you see this ND-Cuse series getting in the way of scheduling more Tier 1 teams down the road?? I can already hear Heisler and Swarbrick now.
"Well, we'd love to play those teams (Bama, Texas, etc), but we already have our road games booked and don't have any room for them. Our "crazy alums" don't understand that you can't play 10 top teams a year."
Go ahead and pencil that quote in for Heisler the next time Alabama or Miami calls us out for a game. We'll point to our scheduled series with Syracuse and shoo them away.
I'd love to believe that Swarbrick has the power/desire to substantially change the direction of the ND schedule, but I'm looking for some actual evidence to back that up. All I'm looking for is ONE marquee series out of him to make me a believer that he is making it a priority to get more big names on the schedules. Thus far, all we've seen are "buy games," half-baked neutral site games, and a series with Syracuse. In other words, a continuation of the Kevin White model.
Perhaps Swarbrick is making noise behind the scenes, but I find it troubling that we are lining up the Syracuses of the world for a series 8-10 years out and can't do the same for a team like Alabama or Miami. If there was really a desire to get Alabama on the schedule in 2017 or some year in the future, why isn't it done already?? Swarbrick is clearly contemplating those schedules since he's already negotiated a deal for a game in 2017 with the Cuse. If his top priority is to beef up the schedule, why not announce a Miami series before you lock up the Cuse?? It makes me wonder if he is just paying lip service to the idea of getting more top notch home and homes.
I don't have a problem with scheduling Syracuse, but they should be a "filler" opponent. We didn't need to lock them up ten years in advance. We should be lining up our HEAVYWEIGHTS first and then filling in the rest of the schedule from there.
For example, the 2017 schedule should look like this right now:
Get your big boys on there first as anchor tenants. After that, find your "buy games" and Syracuses and Purdues and Stanfords. Our priorities are out of whack. We lock up these series with Syracuse and then proclaim we have no room for heavyweights. That's a bunch of nonsense. We have room, but we're filling up the tent with Syracuses.
We're scheduled to play TWO true road games in 2016. TWO!! I didn't think that was even possible. Between Navy and Syracuse, that's two of our four "road" games at neutral sites. I'm telling you, one of these even years we're going to play 11 home/neutral games and a road game at USC. Maybe USC will agree to play their home games in Kansas City or something to give us the magic number of zero road games.
Another thing no one should be saying in ten years is the "well, Syracuse was good when we scheduled them" thing to make ourselves feel better about scheduling this game if they turn out to be crappy in 2015 and 2017. They are objectively awful at the moment. Again, I don't have a problem with scheduling them as filler for the schedule, but they are not a marquee game and never will be.