Who likes to argue about football schedules? Everyone, that's who. This is going to be a fun series, originating with our own Michael Bryan, to create our own personal version of the perfect Notre Dame football schedule.
1) We are submitting a schedule for one season only. Although this removes some realism to the practice of constructing a full slate we are giving you God-like powers to schedule whomever suits your fancy. However, some elaboration on how you'd schedule for multiple years and decades is encouraged.
2) For the home-away-neutral site template you must pick one of the following: 7-5-0, 7-4-1, 6-6-0, or 6-5-1.
3) You have the use of one 'bye' week.
SCHEDULE SUBMISSION NO. 1
@ TEXAS TECH
@ NORTH CAROLINA
1. Who are your protected rivals? How are you treating the plethora of programs that have had rivalries with Notre Dame?
USC is my only protected rival that is on the schedule every single year. No one else is afforded that luxury.
I have Michigan on my schedule above and would rotate them on for 6 years and then off for 4 years. Navy would cease to be an opponent on the schedule every year and would be played once every 4 years.
The likes of Purdue, Stanford, Pittsburgh, and Boston College are no longer treated as rivals. If we sign a home-and-home at some point that'll work but other than that we'll go a couple decades without playing each other no problem.
I'd keep Michigan State as a third-tier rival with a series of home-and-home agreements every 8 to 12 years
2. How much of a focus are you putting on the Midwest?
Outside of playing Michigan more often than not, and of course not being able to move Notre Dame's campus, very little emphasis on the Midwest.
However, down the road I'd selectively add some series against the lesser played Midwest teams like Iowa, Illinois, Kansas, or Minnesota but only very, very sparsely over several decades.
3. Are you continuing the Shamrock Series, or adding another generic neutral site game, or dropping neutral games?
I'm sticking to a 6-6-0 arrangement and placing high value on road games for a playoff resume. In reality, the Shamrock Series does some nice things for the University and program but I'll take the hit on revenue for a better opportunity to play some big road games over the years.
The only exception would be the Navy game played once every 4 years at a neutral site field. That would be a new tradition every player would experience once in their time at Notre Dame.
4. Explain why you constructed the schedule the way you did and how you picked the teams.
My basic strategy was to look at the winning percentages over the past 5 seasons and use that as my outline. I wanted 4 marquee opponents for a somewhat top-heavy schedule with a presence in the South and West Coast. Road games at Oregon and Georgia obviously being the primetime marquee games.
Beyond that I wasn't too afraid to weaken the schedule down at the bottom and tried to stick to alternating home and away games. I placed the bye before what should be the most difficult game inside Autzen while that is bracketed by easier games too. I also tried not to put tough games in back-to-back weeks.
I also wanted to get at least 2 teams from each Power 5 conference involved, with the exception of the ACC (which is funny given the current agreement) but made up for it a game against Maryland who is still ACC in all of our hearts.
For the rest of the schedule I wanted 5 games from programs in the 40 to 70's in national win percentage, with 3 of those coming on the lower third of that tier. Arkansas and West Virginia were the top two teams in this group with UNC, Texas Tech, and Maryland in the bottom.
I rounded out the schedule with 3 easy opponents. The trip to Tulane would be to add some presence in Louisiana while playing at a strong academic school with a new football stadium. The game versus UNLV adds to the presence in the West while UAB does the same for the South in addition to welcoming their program back from the dead.
My perfect schedule is all about diversity and keeping a presence in the West and South. Even if we're playing a lot of home games against weaker teams from those regions I want to take advantage of players, coaches, fans, and families getting comfortable with and enjoying Notre Dame. Over the years I think it will pay off in the areas of the country where population expansion is booming.
I don't really care about the Midwest and with a goal of 4 marquee games I'm embracing the old barnstorming ethos while taking on more road games--even if some of those games are from weaker opponents. I want to take advantage of the full flavor of college football and am sacrificing the traditional Purdue's and Pittsburgh's of the world to play a vibrant and fun schedule.
Submission No. 2 will come later in the week from Youngcrumudgeon.