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Nebraska Football Non-Conference Scheduling: A CornNation Roundtable

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When NU AD Bill Moos mentioned scheduling former Big Eight rivals, the CN team sat down to talk about what we’d like to see in non-conference football scheduling.

Eric Crouch #7
Dude! Mr. Snyder wants us to try to tackle one of those Cornhuskers, not each other! Leggo my eggo!

On Monday at a meet-and-greet with fans in Gering, Nebraska athletic director brought up scheduling non-conference games with former Big Eight rivals.

Given the constraints of the Big Ten’s nine-game conference schedule, Nebraska currently only schedules one home-and-home series in the non-conference part of the schedule. This allows Nebraska to play seven home games each season, at an average of $5 million in revenue for each home game. Future home-and-home non-conference opponents include: Colorado (2018-19, 2023-24), Cincinnati (2020, 2025), Oklahoma (2021-22, 2029-30), Tennessee (2026-27) and Arizona (2028, 2031).

What do you think of Moos’ plan to schedule non-conference games against former Big Eight rivals?

Mike: I’d rather see Nebraska play nationally relevant opponents, because despite our recent struggles, we consider ourselves a national program. We should schedule accordingly with intriguing matchups from across the nation. The only former rivals that fit that mold to be would be Oklahoma and Texas.

Back in the 1980’s, Bob Devaney was able to get schools like Oregon to play in Lincoln without a return home game. If Kansas were willing to accept a $3 million payday (probably more than they make for a home game in Lawrence anyway) to play only in Lincoln, that would be more enticing than a MAC/Sun Belt opponent.

Nate M: I was kind of intrigued about the idea of playing Kansas and Kansas State again, but only for nostalgia purposes and maybe that the travel portion of it would so easy. But I’m not sure those are good enough reasons to use up a non-conference game.

That is unless another power five national relevant team is on the schedule that same year. Then I think a Kansas or Kansas State game would be totally doable.

I agree with Mike, that I’m not sure a home-and-home with Kansas would be very wise unless Mark Mangino walks back through that door. Remember that he had KANSAS ranked #2 in the country? That is crazy.

Salt Creek: We should be using our non-conference slate to take Nebraska to the coasts and places where its difficult for recruits to make it to Nebraska to see us (HELLO TEXAS TEAMS). Big 8 games are fun for nostalgia, but there’s probably limited nostalgia for games against the Cyclones or the Jayhawks.

Andy: First off, I simply have no nostalgia for Kansas or K-State. Playing Kansas allows one to say, “Hey we played a Power 5 non-con game” in the same way that grown men sip four ingredient drinks with flavored vodka or amaretto and tell their buddies they were out “drinking”.

And Kansas St.? Competition-wise, it was a relief when the Wildcats went from being a team that went about 8-212 during the 70’s & 80’s to a top-notch program under lemon-chewing corpse, Bill Snyder. However, their fans always behaved like that lottery winner who bought the biggest mansion for sale in Shadow Ridge & spent his days wearing jorts and a wife-beater, drinking Natty Lite in a lawn chair out front with his new 800 db boom box cranked, screaming, “YOU THINK YOU’RE BETTER THAN ME?? COME OVER HERE AND SAY THAT SHIT!!” at every Beemer & Mercedes that cruised by.

Non-con games are like free time. I don’t want to hang around that mess in my free time.

Jon: First, I don’t like the Big Ten’s nine conference game schedule. I understand that the conference is big enough that we need to schedule one more game per year in conference so that everybody gets a chance to play each other.

I agree with Mike in that we should be scheduling games against national opponents. I’d like to see us play Texas again. I realize that were on this kick where we need to bring back the past, that maybe we need to realize that we should only bring back the part of the past that adds value. Other than Oklahoma and Texas, scheduling our old opponents seems like a waste of opportunity to me.

Uglydog56: I want to go back to 8 game conference schedules. Why does the B1G hamstring itself like that? Then for the four non-cons, I want the worst team in Florida, the worst team in Texas, the worst team on the West Coast, and one nationally relevant game, maybe at a neutral site. And by neutral site I mean the Chief's stadium, something close. That could maybe be an old Big 8 for. But until we're back at 8 games like the SEC, nada.

Patrick G: If they have the projections that it will increase money coming into these college towns then I have no problem scheduling a team 3 hours away from Lincoln. I am guessing the press will eat it up and the fans will too. If Frost has this team humming like many think he will then the “national team” argument should be a moot point. The television networks will pick these games up quickly based on our nations love for nostalgia.

These games will also most likely be early in the year. Unless something bad happens most people forget about them halfway through the year. If KSU is good, then bully for Nebraska. If they’re not, the Big Ten should have enough teams in the mix to make it work.

Will the game be any good? Who knows down the road. We are talking farther than 3 years so a lot can happen.

Neutral site games have become rather popular; should Nebraska give up a home game (and the $5 million in revenue) to play at a neutral site?

Mike: Nope. Except for games at JerryWorld, the net effect of playing two neutral site games is probably break-even at best versus a home-and-home series. Most of these games are held in NFL stadiums that hold 15k-20k fewer fans, so for the game to make economic sense, ticket prices have to be jacked up on top of the additional travel costs for fans to travel. I can’t imagine any case where a neutral site game is to Nebraska’s advantage.

Nate M: As a generally matter, it is my opinion that neutral site games are cop-outs. When a Florida school, Texas School or SEC school plays a neutral site game, they almost always have the other team flying south while they drive a little west or a little north. Then those schools can say “see not all of our games are at home!”

I want Alabama to come to Nebraska, and then have Nebraska go to Alabama the year after. To me that is more intriguing to watch than both playing in JerryWorld. One of the best parts about college football is the home crowd. Don’t take that away.

Salt Creek: If it’s already an away non-conference game and the venue is larger/nicer than the host school’s stadium? Absolutely. Get paid and get national TV. But absolutely not for Big Ten games - those should be played at campus stadiums. And never surrender one of our few home games to a glitzy game at JerryWorld.

Andy: Hell yes, Nate! In Nebraska, we got our share of white trash, but flying a couple states over to play in another state that laments the fall of the confederacy just as much as you against a team from 1500 miles away and calling that a “road game”? That’s the kind of white trash nonsense that comes from people who kill trees and stage dive Oklahoma fans when they lose, and fight in parking lots with capital “A’s” and tigers painted on their faces.

Alabama. That’s Alabama white trash. We ain’t that.

Jon: Game day is a special occasion in Lincoln Nebraska. It only occurs five times per year. It is a tremendous amount of fun. I don’t see any reason whatsoever why you would eliminate such a special occasion for Nebraskans to get together.

Name the funnest thing you can think of. You get to do it only five times a year. If I told you one was going to be eliminated and you got to do it only four, I’d better have a damned good reason for eliminating that one occasion.

Patrick G: If I wanted to see an NFL team play then I will go to an NFL stadium. If I want to see a college team play then I will go to a college stadium. Believe it or not, they are two different things. Yes, these big stadiums are nice but I believe you lose the college game day experience.

Also, it’s fun going to another teams stadium and check out the town and campus. The draw of a random city has no appeal to me.

However, if it will be a financial boom for the athletic department, I can handle it.

Along those same lines, should Nebraska consider playing two home-and-home games in the non-conference schedule, resulting in only one “body bag/directional state” opponent each season but also only six home games every other season?

Mike: I’d like to see it myself, but I think the CFP playoff has to establish that there is a benefit to playing a better non-conference schedule. While television revenue is important, it’s not as important as NU home game ticket revenue. But playing a name opponent every season might soften the blow of only having six home games in a season since we’d be giving up a “Directional State” team.

Nate M: If we were to schedule an LSU type game every year then I think a Northsouthern Utah and a Southsouthwestern Hawaii game would be just fine. But if our non-conference schedule is Kansas and Kansas State, then we just look a lot like Iowa. And we don’t want to look like Iowa. Nobody wants to look like Iowa. Even Iowa doesn’t want to look like Iowa.

Salt Creek: If you’re trying to sell tickets at One Memorial, you might have to go to this model in the future, but I’m not sure you can manage this properly unless you can balance the Big Ten’s cross-over schedule with the home-and-home. Home-and-homes usually get you something better than a body bag game, but then you’re risking an extra loss. Add in a cross-over with Penn State and Ohio State, and that’s a hell of a schedule to survive.

Andy: I’m gonna skip this one or I’ll just get pissed off again about what a schmuck Delany was for going to 9 conference games and beating the crap out of each other when nobody on that shitty committee will care about that unless we start wearing silver helmets with buckeyes on them.

Jon: Yes. I mean... if Scott Frost is as successful as we think he’ll be, then yeah, we should be playing better opponents and beating the snot out of them. And making more opportunities for “Game Day in Lincoln”. I mean, who doesn’t want more home games?

Uglydog56: I see no point in two home-and-homes. The team needs that creampuff to gel and drive up stats for playoff committee.

Patrick G: Sure, if the financial numbers make it work. I say that because that’s what really matters when it comes down to it. I’m also talking about the local businesses and not just the athletic department. Not to sound like money is the only thing that matters but......we are talking about college football here.

Looking at Nebraska’s future opponents, are there any series that you’d consider mistakes that should be cancelled? Are there any opponents you wish that the Huskers would play?

Mike: I just don’t understand why Nebraska is playing Colorado four times and Cincinnati. Those are games that just don’t move the needle nationally. In fact, considering stadium size, I’d make Colorado the same offer that I’d make Kansas. Play all 4 games in Lincoln, and NU will pay CU $3 million for the two games that were supposed to be played in Boulder. It’s getting harder to schedule those money games, and considering the Buffs attendance woes in their smaller stadium, CU would be money ahead to play in Lincoln.

As for who I’d like to see play? I’d go for just about any of college football’s blue bloods: Auburn, LSU, Texas A&M, Texas, Virginia Tech, Southern Cal, UCLA, Stanford and Oregon.

Nate M: Where do I want to go visit? Hmmm. Well I’m going to throw LSU up there as my number one. I could go stay in New Orleans and just drive to Baton Rouge for the game. How about San Diego State? I love San Diego anytime of year.

Salt Creek: Due to my prolonged stay in the South, I’d argue Nebraska should try and schedule home-and-homes against SEC programs so that every other season, Nebraska has a presence down south, not unlike our ability to sell away games in Texas to Texas recruits.

Andy: I’d love to get some SEC games going, but one problem - THEY DON’T LEAVE THEIR REGION. HARDLY EVER. AND IF THEY DO, NEUTRAL SITE. (OK, Arkansas went to Rutgers - whoo! - and at least LSU went to Milwaukee, but I’m not holding my breath.) There’s probably also some weird southern pride/revenge collusion in place because HOW IN THE HELL COULD SCOTT FROST PICK NEBRASKA OVER TENNESSEE OR FLORIDA, GODDAMN HIS BLACK SOUL???!!

So, like Salt, I’d like some big names outside the area. Miami, Florida St. - shit, call Dabo & get Climpson. I was always good with Southern Cal, UCLA, Oregon, Washington. Hmmm, how about Oregon St. for the “Screw Sprinkles, Here’s a Boot In Your Ass Trophy!!” ? Just kidding - but yes, find some big names that make for fun trips - & get the boys in front of some recruits.

Jon: Before I die (again), I want to see a night game in Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge. I realize were never going to schedule a home and home with LSU, but a guy can dream. It would be nice to pick up some games against Pac-12 teams such as USC, UCLA, or Washington. Get Florida or Florida State on the schedule. I wonder if were falling back on our old Big Eight opponents just because they’re easier to schedule.

Uglydog56: I think it would be fun to play Georgia Tech and watch the blue-hairs sigh wistfully at all the triple option. Games against Miami always have that extra edge. And Appalachian State because I'm enrolling there in the fall. Except that's a trap game, don't know if we want to go there.

Patrick G: I say cancel any 1-AA (FCS...whatever) opponents but everybody loves a body bag game....

As for ones that I want to see? I would like home/home against Utah, Alabama, Texas, Notre Dame, Washington State, LSU, Georgia, Clemson, & Army. Mainly because these are all the I-A stadiums that I would like to see a game in, that’s it. The rest I have either already been to or have little to no interest in.

So what say you?

Would you like to play more former Big Eight schools? Or more national opponents? Would like to give up home games for neutral site matchups?