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Are the Mountaineers Scheduling too Tough?

Schuyler Callihan

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Photo credit: Schuyler Callihan/DubVNation.com

Last week Big 12 Media Days took place in Dallas and head coach Neal Brown acknowledged the difficulty of not only the 2019 schedule, but also the future schedules.

“I knew what the schedule was when I took the job.” Said Brown. “I think when you look at scheduling, it is what it is. We don’t even talk to our players about it. We’re kind of in a one game mindset and I know that’s cliche, but that’s how we go about it. It is a very challenging schedule, our future schedules are challenging. Being where we fit geographically, I think it’s important for us to play natural rivals. The series with Pitt is coming up, we play Virginia Tech. Some of those type of games make sense, it’s hard for our fan base to travel.”

Certainly scheduling tough can come across as a good thing, but could it also be an issue? Not only will the Mountaineers play eleven Power Five opponents in 2019, but will do so for the next six years. Much of that comes from future games with natural rivals Pitt, Virginia Tech, Maryland and Penn State. Below is the future non-conference schedules through 2024.

2019

James Madison

@ Missouri

NC State

 

2020

Florida State

Eastern Kentucky

Maryland

 

2021

@ Maryland

Indiana State

Virginia Tech

 

2022

@ Pitt

@ Virginia Tech

TBA

 

2023

@ Penn State

Pitt

TBA

 

2024

Penn State

Albany

@ Pitt

 

West Virginia certainly does not schedule easy and in fact, are the only team in the country to schedule eleven Power Five opponents for each of the next six seasons.

If you look around the country, no one schedules this tough or anywhere near this level. So, why do it? Could it be to help strengthen the brand by beating solid Power Five teams? Could it be to intrigue more recruits to come? Or could it be to help strengthen the teams resume in case of a potential playoff berth?

To be honest, I’m not entirely sure. It may be a mixture of all three and then some. A lot of fans question why athletic director Shane Lyons doesn’t schedule easier like others around the country. Playing in the Big 12 you already play nine “P5” teams with nine conference games. Scheduling two other Power Five opponents each year is overkill. It’s almost impossible for any team to consistently compete for a spot in the New Years Six with a schedule like that. Hell, even Alabama usually only plays one Power Five team outside of their conference slate.

The College Football Playoff committee always talks about how important strength of schedule is, but they’ve never seemed to care when they go to select the four teams for the playoff. Say you schedule Louisville, Toledo and East Carolina to go a long with your Big 12 schedule. There would be a much higher chance of finishing with 10+ wins than when you play Pitt and Penn State in the same year or a Virginia Tech.

The Big 12 is already brutal enough, why make it harder? It’s been proven that you can schedule weak and still make the playoff, i.e. Washington.

In my opinion, the NCAA should mandate that all Power Five conferences move to a nine game conference schedule to make it an even playing field. The ACC and SEC only play eight conference games, allowing them to schedule an extra win or well a cupcake that will turn into an automatic win. The Big 12 doesn’t play non-conference games in November, where others do. Now, they’re not meaningful games, but still. They are usually playing The Citadel or Presbyterian the week before rivalry week, which is a cheap way of boosting their win total. The NCAA should also mandate no non-conference games in the final month of the season. Other teams are competing for conference championships and maybe more and it is unfair to for West Virginia to play Oklahoma or TCU in November while Alabama is playing Chattanooga.  It sounds like something that would make sense, but when you leave it in the hands of the NCAA, don’t hold your breath for any changes.

So, with all that being said, what do you think? Since the NCAA isn’t going to step in, do you think West Virginia should lighten their schedule up to better their chances at a spot in the College Football Playoff?

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