With the college football post-season shifting from the BCS to the incoming College Football Playoff in 2014, many of college football’s elite programs are reconfiguring their future schedules to be more competitive for playoff selection. Many big time programs are swearing off FCS foes and looking to beef up their non-conference slate. Count West Virginia amongst that group, looking of or though ear future schedules.
West Virginia Mountaineers athletic director Oliver Luck spoke to this shift in scheduling philosophy this past week at the WVU Coaches Caravan stop in Princeton, WV.
“Schedules get made in advance and we have to look our schedule as we go forward and see if we should be able to upgrade the quality of our opponents,” Luck said. “At the same time the Big 12 is a grind.”
“We have to be a little bit careful that where we won’t end up with 12 powerhouse games like an NFL schedule.”
To that end, Luck will need to seek out a different kind of non-conference opponent than the Mountaineers have settled for in recent years. WVU will have to move away from FCS opponents like William & Mary (this season), James Madison, Norfolk State, Villanova, and Wofford. Even games against lower level FBS competition like Georgia State (this season) and Bowling Green will have to be done away with.
As compelling as these match- ups have not been, Luck has some great quality opponents in mind for future series.
“I would love to get Pitt back on the schedule, I would love to get (Virginia) Tech back on the schedule, I would love to get UVa back on the schedule, another school we used to play a lot, and even Penn State,” Luck said.
Bringoing back historic rivalries like those with the Pitt Panthers, Virginia Tech Hokies, and Penn State Nittany Lions would certainly do wonders to improve the Mountaineers strength of schedule. Even a quickly rising Virginia Cavaliers squad would be a big get for the football schedule.
While the move to the Big 12 has unarguably raised the Mountaineers overall schedule quality, it has left the Mountaineers with fewer rivals and less of a sense of tradition in its match-ups. Adding big historic rivalries that also add to the Mountaineers playoff resume are nothing but a win-win for the Mountaineers.
As much sense as it makes for the Mountaineers, it may not make as much sense for those schools. Oliver Luck knows that it might become a viable option going forward, but acknowledges it takes a mutual interest from those schools.
“Is that possible? Well, it takes two to tango, but I think the good news is we will see some stronger non-conference schedules as we go forward.”