Marshall's SOS..Truth Behind the Perception

Marshall’s 2015 football schedule has recently been called to the carpet. On paper, on April 3rd, it is not the best schedule in school history, (currently ranked 128th) but that isn't on the Marshall administration. Well not completely.

The assumption by some is that this was done by design and nothing is currently being done to remedy the strength of schedule issues.

While so many are calling out Marshall to schedule harder what they don't communicate is why the schedules were done the way they were up to the 2018 season. What the complexion of the schedules looked like 3-5 years ago when they were scheduled. What has already been done in regards to future schedules.

Counterpoint #1: Why the schedules up to 2015 were constructed the way they were?

It has been referred to as the Boise or the BCS buster formula. Go back to when Boise was making their run. They weren't going after top BCS teams. They were playing one BCS team that was usually a middle of the road BCS team that was not always ranked to start the season. It wasn't until the end of their run when they were established that they started playing higher ranked teams in their out of conference. Here were Boise State's out of conference opponents during their run to national Prominence.

2002: Finished 12th in the coaches and 15th in the AP. Out of conference games were Idaho, unranked Arkansas, Wyoming, and Utah State. Boise cracked the top 25 by their 11th game.

2003: They finished 15th in the Coaches and 16th in the AP. Their out of conference schedule was unranked Oregon State Idaho State, Idaho, and Wyoming. They cracked the top 25 by game 10.

2004: Finished 13th in the Coaches and 12th in the AP. Their out of conference schedule was Idaho, unranked Oregon State, and BYU.

2005: Did not finish ranked and played #13 Georgia, unranked Oregon State, Bowling Green, and Portland State.

2006: Finished 6th in the Coaches and 5th in the AP. Their out of conference schedule was Sacramento State, Unranked Oregon State, Wyoming, and Utah. Boise had cracked the top 25 game 4.

2007: Finished unranked. Their out of conference schedule was Weber State, unranked Washington, Wyoming, and Southern Miss. Boise started the season 23rd then fell out in week three only to crack the top 25 again at game 9.

2008: Finished 13th in the Coaches and 11th in the AP. Out of conference schedule was Idaho State, Bowling Green, #12 Oregon, and Southern Miss. Cracked the top 25 by game four.

2009: Finished 4th in the Coaches and 4th in the AP. Out of conference games were #14 Oregon, Miami of Ohio, Bowling Green, and UC Davis. Boise began the season ranked 16th and never fell out.

2010: Finished 7th in the Coaches and 9th in the AP. Out of conference games were #6 VT, Wyoming, Oregon State, and Toledo. Boise started the season 5th and stayed in the top 25 all season.

2011: Finished 6th in the Coaches and 8th in the AP. Out of conference games were #22 Georgia, Toledo, Tulsa, and Nevada. Started 7th.

2012: Finished 14th in the coaches and 18th in the AP. Out of conference games were #13 Michigan State, Miami of Ohio, BYU, and Southern Miss. Started 22nd then fell out after losing to Michigan State then cracked the top 25 again at game five.

Boise wasn't loading down their out of conference and during most of this run the WAC was considered the worst conference in all of football. They blew through it every year. Everyone knows about their bowls so there isn’t really need to list them. So the G5 schools started using this model. Go after one known BCS team that isn't necessarily ranked and then run the table. That is how schools busted the BCS. No one back then knew the BCS would blow up and realignment would happen. Remember, Marshall’s scheduling from 2005-2010. It was beyond difficult, and it got Marshall nowhere and was unnecessary to accomplish the goal.

Counterpoint #2: The complexion then vs now

Back when Marshall’s schedules were made for the 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2015 the teams we scheduled were much better and CUSA was not being looted. CUSA still had ECU, UCF, Tulsa, and Houston. Then when you look at the teams the Herd scheduled out of conference, they were at that point in time, good additions. Ohio was on the rise, Miami of Ohio had just recently won the MAC, Purdue wasn't a disaster, and Louisville was one of the better teams in the BCS. Not to mention the BCS was still alive and at that time was not in any real danger of going away.

Counterpoint #3: Future Schedules

This one will grind the gears of Herd fans everywhere. When people start taking shots at last year's SOS and then again at this year's SOS they make it sound like it was done by design. Then they demand that Marshall Athletic Director, Mike Hamrick, schedule better teams. Some Marshall fans and outside fans act like nothing has been done. They don't mention that in 2016 Marshall will get Louisville at home and go to Pitt, in 2017 the Herd will visit NC State and still have an open date yet to be filled, in 2015 Marshall will play NC State in Huntington and have two spots left to fill, in 2019 Marshall will get Pitt at home then travel to ECU and still have one more space left, in 2021 Marshall plays at Navy and get a return game from ECU, and in 2022 Navy will return a game at the Joan.

Ohio is a game that quite simply, needs to stay on the schedule. They are a rival, a fun game, and an easy game to get to. In 2018 Marshall will have three spots left to fill outside of the Ohio game so there is room to work. Hamrick is doing his best now and has acknowledged the scheduling philosophy has indeed changed.

Now one other point that can be made is the changing landscape of college football. There is a movement amongst the P5 to end all games with the G5 and FCS. With uncertainty on the horizon it's getting harder to get commitments from P5s. Not to mention Marshall is now running into the issue of being too good to get those games. P5s aren't going to want to play a G5 they could actually lose to. Hamrick has said many times, at the QB Club luncheons and has said on his radio show that he has reached out to a lot of teams, many of the same ones we fans bring up as teams they would like to play and they adamantly turn him down. Sources say schools such as UK and BYU won't return phone calls.

Maybe more attention should go towards attacking the P5s out there that won't even entertain the thought of scheduling Marshall.

Some use examples of CUSA teams that are playing three P5s a year. Do Marshall fans not remember 2011? Only getting 5 home games. Having the team beat down before conference play even started. Do we not remember how much we complained over scheduling like that? Bob Pruett didn't even schedule like that. Marshall never played more than two P5 opponents and only did that three times in 2000, 2003, and 2004.

Marshall fans already knew what 2015 was going to look like. Fans all knew it was going to in regards to strength. Why are people so taken back now? Nothing can be done about 2015 and that the scheduling philosophy that so many are calling attention to has indeed been changed. Schedules aren't done year to year they are done 3-5 years in advance. Many pointed to Rhode Island last year. Marshall had to take what they could on so short notice and every team plays a FCS team. It's not like Hamrick had the chance to schedule a better opponent and chose the FCS team. What fans should be mad about is Louisville dropping the Herd claiming they had to make room to accommodate Notre Dame and the ACC schedule only to replace Marshall with Murray State.

What needs to happen for the Herd is teams like Southern Miss need to find themselves and regain their previous level of play, CUSA needs to stop adding bad teams, and this conference needs to get more competitive.

That's that Hamrick needs because scheduling isn't going to get any easier. More P5s will shy away from playing him. Top P5s want one and done money games on their terms, which leave Marshall short in regards to home games in some seasons. The rest will want no part of Marshall as long as the wins continue to pile up at the current rate. Many teams that make sense for Marshall to play want no part of them because they depend on winnable games to make bowls. Marshall no longer fits that criteria. Take UK for example, UK is a team popular amongst Herd fan opponent request. They refuse to play Marshall at this time, because playing Marshall could potentially ruin their season. They aren’t competitive in the SEC at this time, so their best chance of making a bowl is scheduling teams out of conference that they have a good shot of beating. They have to play Louisville so they only have three spots each year to fill. Marshall is never going to be one of them.

Marshall is done selling itself out for no gain and that is the way it should be. Let's just forget about the strength of the 2015 schedule, move on, and see how the season shakes out. There is nothing that can be done about 2015.

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