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Upgrading the Football Schedules

I've been a critic of the non-conference football schedules Steve Pederson lined up for Nebraska before his dismissal: (Sagarin ratings at the end of last year's regular season in parentheses)

2008: Western Michigan (#103), San Jose State (#113), New Mexico State ( #153), Virginia Tech (#5)

2009: Florida Atlantic (#86), Louisiana Lafayette (#139), Arkansas State (#122), Virginia Tech (#5)

2010: Western Kentucky (#121), Idaho (#168), Washington (#53), South Dakota State (#95)

I thought it would be tough to have a worse schedule than the Huskers run through the Sun Belt Conference in 2009, but somehow Nebraska found one for 2010. In any event, it sounds like that's the end of these schedules. Tom Osborne and Jeff Jamrog already signed up Southern Miss for 2012, 2013, and 2015.

Today, Tom Shatel got a chance to look at future games they are pursuing. It's BCS conference opponents. It's Mountain West and Mid-American Conference schools. They're not too happy about the schedules over the next three years, and are trying to get better games. The only restriction: Nebraska needs seven home games a season.

"It looks like they wanted to schedule a bunch of wins," Jamrog said. "We can't do anything about it. We can't do anything about the guarantees that were set, unless you want to cancel the contracts. But we aren't interested in doing that."

Needless to say, 1-AA (aka "Football Championship Subdivision") teams are only on the list as a last resort. Steve Pederson did a good job lining up some big names for home-and-home series, but the remaining three games each season are merely throwaway games played for the money. Sure looks like Nebraska will be playing at least one other notable opponent from a BCS or mid-major conference. If Nebraska can line up enough "2-for-1" deals, perhaps 1 top-tier opponent and 2 mid-majors each year. Oh, and one "money" game to fill out the schedule.

One of the worst things college football did was remove "strength of schedule" from the BCS component after 2000 when Florida State edged out Miami for a BCS title game berth. Sportswriters whined when "their" choice of Miami got edged out by the other factors in the system. College administrators suddenly saw themselves being penalized for playing tougher non-conference schedules if they lost without any bonus for winning the game. So why take a chance? Take the money and bring on the cupcakes.

I'm curious to see what Nebraska's schedules will look like in the next decade. Perhaps something a little closer to Colorado's schedule is in the cards. I can only hope.