Bold non-conference schedules will serve
Strength-of-schedule has long been a key component for the
And while Virginia Tech and Virginia might not yet be poised to make the tournament, their schedules could well affect how playoff contenders from the ACC are viewed.
"It increases our national brand and (complements) what the ACC is trying to do,"
Virginia is 16-21 under London, and this season the Cavaliers begin a six-year stretch that includes home-and-home series with Brigham Young,
The latter season approaches Virginia's most glamorous non-conference schedule of the past 30 years, 1995, when the Cavaliers played
But those were halcyon days, with Virginia winning at least seven games for 13 straight seasons under George Welsh. Pragmatists, including me, question the timing of these games.
"Sometimes it's just being downright competitive," London said. "Some people are saying, 'Why?' I'm saying, 'Why not?'"
London believes the trips could expand the program's recruiting footprint — he said prospects from California called recently — but absent considerable free time and a
The series are a product of executive associate athletic director Jon Oliver's western ties — he worked in the
The Hokies have never played a Big Ten opponent during the regular season, but in addition to the Wolverines, Tech has series contracted with
Weaver said his ideal non-conference schedule includes a marquee game such as Michigan and the 2013 opener versus Alabama in Atlanta, an accessible regional matchup such as
That leaves a fourth slot, to be filled once every three years, on average, by Notre Dame — the Fighting Irish play five ACC opponents annually. In seasons Tech does not draw Notre Dame, Weaver must find another Bowl Subdivision opponent —
Weaver remains "very disappointed" that the ACC reversed a plan to expand the league schedule from eight to nine games.
"It's just hard as heck to get people to come play you," he said. "It costs money, and I think it serves you better to play an extra conference game."
Indeed, a one-time visit from a FCS school can cost $250,000, a similar arrangement with a FBS program three times as much.
But the worst consequence of an eight-game ACC schedule is facing teams from the opposite division, the permanent crossover partner excepted, only twice every 12 years. So a player at Virginia or Virginia Tech might never compete against
An extra conference game would double that ratio to twice every six years.
The ACC approved nine games when it added
With yearly games set through 2020, East Carolina has become Virginia Tech's most common outside opponent, and with good reason. The
A 2018 date at ODU is even more convenient for area Tech faithful, and even some of the Big Ten junkets are doable from the Roanoke area. Ohio State is a reasonable six-hour drive from the New River Valley, Michigan a distant 10, Wisconsin a no-thanks 14.
Virginia Tech and Virginia are not the only ACC programs elevating their schedules. For example, Florida State plays Oklahoma State in Arlington, Texas, in 2014, plus Notre Dame and Florida at home.
The question is, will the Cavaliers' future schedules help or hinder their rebuilding project?