So- What Exactly Are Scheduling Rules?

MANHATTAN, Kan. - This past week, Kansas State coach Frank Martin said he had no complaints at all with the Big 12 Conference basketball schedule handed out this year, or in either of his first two seasons as the Wildcats head coach. But what all goes into putting together a Big 12 schedule. Football is complicated enough with eight games, but try 16!

Setting up an eight-game Big 12 football schedule is tough enough, but now double that to a 16-game slate and life really gets complicated.

"Scheduling is probably the most complicated thing that we do," said Big 12 Senior Associate Commissioner Tim Allen.

For starters, here are the general rules fed into the computer program for all 12 league teams:

• Each team plays twice at home in its first four games and last four games.

• Each team plays at least four home weekend games.

• No team can play three straight league road games.

• No team will play a Saturday-Monday-Wednesday scenario.

• Every attempt is made that if a team plays a "Big Monday" road game, it will play the previous Saturday game at home. (Which is what Texas did.)

Other attempts are made where teams will never open the year, or close the season, with two straight road games, and that there are not stretches of four out of five games on the road.

Dr. Tim Van Voorhis of Iowa State University developed the computer plan for Big 12 scheduling. Initially, anywhere from 600 to 6,000 possibilities would be spit out. That number is narrowed considerably after the television folks select the games they want for network telecasts.

According to Big, ESPN presents the Big 12 four "must have" games for "Big Monday," plus another two games for its College GameDay Saturday night telecasts. This season, K-Stat has one of each.

Other considerations are trying to make sure that rival games are played when students have returned to campus, four-out-of-six stretches on the road are eliminated, three sets of back-to-back road games are eliminated, plus a handful of special request games that individual schools may make to the Big 12.

Eventually, three or four schedules are personally reviewed by Big 12 staff members before a final decision is made on the process that started in June.

"We look at schedules from a television standpoint, an on-campus marketing standpoint, and a competitive standpoint," Allen said. "We have never produced a perfect schedule, and never will, but we try to make sure we have one that is fair and balanced."

It's from that final schedule that the television executives start hand picking games for its ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU, ABC and Big 12 Network telecasts.

Oh, and it's then that the Big 12 goes to work on its women's schedule using the same criteria, but also attempting to minimize the dates when the men's and women's teams are at home at the same time.

Sound simple? Grab a pen and paper and give it a shot!

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