North Carolina Scheduling: Not Impressing the Committee


Last year, I suggested the Big Four schools in North Carolina were not scheduling hard enough to sway Committee members if they happened to be eligible for the College Football Playoff. Last year that did not seem to hurt any of the four programs because none of them were ever in contention for the College Football Playoff. Did any of the schools learn their lesson from last year?

The first school to look at is Duke. The Blue Devils played a non-conference slate of Tulane, Kansas, Elon, and Troy. All four teams had bad years and the one name, Kansas, was equally wretched. So what does this year look like?

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This year Duke goes down to Tulane to play the return game of that series. Army comes on the schedule with Duke going to West Point. North Carolina Central replaces Elon as the FCS game. Central was better than Elon last year. Kansas is replaced with Northwestern. The addition of Northwestern is the one true upgrade on the schedule. However Duke is still scheduling for wins over risks. The ACC Coastal is famous for bloodying up its members. Duke is not going anywhere with this resume.

So what about Wake? The Deacs had Gardner-Webb, Louisiana-Monroe, Utah State, and Army on their docket last year. This is actually more courageous than it sounds because Utah State was a good team last year. Wake also was adapting to their new coach, so scheduling down is understandable for that reason. They also lost to Monroe and Utah State, showing that they know their level of competition for now.

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This year, the big Dave Clawson second year, Wake faces Elon, Army, Indiana, and Notre Dame. Wake got Notre Dame here on the ACC rotation. Indiana has never quite left the Big Ten cellar, and should be appropriate challenge. It is hard to get angry at Wake when they need to build momentum. Unlike Duke, no one is picking them to win their division.

NC State, however, is a pick to win its division in some corners. State’s turnaround season last year was partially the beneficiary of low ball scheduling. Old Dominion was in its second FBS year. Georgia Southern was in its first (though time would prove that to be a good win for State). South Florida was still transitioning. Then there was FCS Presbyterian.

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  • This year is not much different. Eastern Kentucky takes over Presbyterian. State travels to Old Dominion this time. South Florida leaves the schedule in favor of…Troy. Georgia Southern leaves for another Sun Belt opponent in South Alabama. State did not do themselves any favors here. Their best non-conference win last year was UCF in the Bitcoin Bowl and there is no one that good currently on their docket. A State playoff resume would need wins against FSU, Clemson, and the Coastal Champ, but there would be nothing else to say. Remember this is a year where everyone things big things are ahead for State.

    Finally there are the North Carolina Tar Heels. Their schedule of ECU, Notre Dame, Liberty, and San Diego State was the strongest of the four schools last year. They also lost two of those games. If the defense had not folded and the coaching had quit tinkering with the offense, then at least the resume would have been respectable. Notre Dame would have become the best non-conference win. Which is better than what the others could have said.

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  • This year the Tar Heels play Illinois and South Carolina. Illinois is not good at the moment, but these are Power 5 teams. The only problem is that the other games are Delaware and North Carolina A&T, two FCS schools. For a team that has flirted with missing bowl eligibility late into last year, already giving yourself a game that does not count should not help things. Those two FCS games mark North Carolina almost immediately out of the running for the College Football Playoff.

    As things stand right now, the Big Four are not learning anything in their scheduling. They are still making the mistakes of last year. I would much rather have ECU’s schedule of BYU, Virginia Tech, and Florida because those can be season making games. None of the Big Four teams have that this year, and it will come back to haunt them with the committee at the end of the year.

    Next: Tobacco Road Schedules Fail to Impress (2014)