While recruiting is my area of interest and "expertise" (snicker snicker), I also have a talent for stirring the pot and getting spirited conversations going. Yesterday at ACC media day, commissioner John Swofford raised many eye brows by proclaiming that Virginia is one of just two conference members that will be facing 10 bowl teams from 2013. Immediately, Cavalier fans took to forums and social media to slam senior athletic officials for "setting the team up to fail." While the administration has had its fair share of questionable personnel and scheduling decisions over the years, the University cannot be blamed for the 2014 slate, as it is simply a case of bad luck in most areas.
After snapping its four-year run of opening the season with in-state FCS opponents in 2013, UVa will once again face a tough task in week one, as UCLA comes to town in just over a month. The Bruins will roll into Scott Stadium off of a successful 2013 campaign, and with plenty of hype surrounding this season. However, UCLA has hardly been a household name in college football in the last decade. Between 2006-2011, the Bruins compiled modest a record of 34-43, boasting nearly the identical winning percentage to UVa during that period. The home-and-home with Virginia was announced after then-head coach Rick Neuheisel led the Bruins to their third losing season in four years. When a series is scheduled that far in advance, you never know what the opponent is going to look like when it comes time to play. A school that scheduled a future series Texas after the 2009 season thought they were getting a national title contender, but instead got one of Mack Brown's last squads that severely underachieved. Chalk the UCLA series up to bad luck.
BYU is also on the schedule for the second year in a row, but thank goodness it were on it last year, as it represented half of Virginia's wins. The Cougars have established themselves as a solid bowl team year in and year out, and yet they could not beat UVa's worst team in three decades last season. The BYU game was safety Anthony Harris' coming out party, which spring boarded an All-American season and the lone bright spot in a dismal 2013 campaign. Those complaining about the BYU series need to remember last year before they question why the Cougars on the schedule.
The other eight bowl teams on the slate are in conference and the administration has no control over that… well actually they do, but I don't think anybody wants to see UVa pull a Maryland. However, getting to a bowl game in the ACC wasn't a major accomplishment last year, as everyone not named, "Virginia, NC State, and Wake Forest" went to the post-season. The Hoos do not get the luxury of playing either the Pack or the Deacs in 2014… more bad luck.
Speaking of bad luck, Virginia also draws Florida State from the Atlantic Division, the year… if that is not bad luck, I don't know what is.
Taking a look at the Coastal Division, only one school won more than eight games last year, Duke, and the Devils are the only squad that brings back their full-time QB from a year ago. The list of Virginia's ACC foes that did not win more than eight games a year ago would have included Maryland, but the Terps were replaced by Louisville as the Hoos' cross-over opponent.. more bad luck, but at least the Cards are also breaking in a new quarterback.
I will be the first to admit that I am all for "scheduling for success," similar to that of Virginia Tech between 1993-2000, and Duke under David Cutcliffe. The Oregon game last year was an awful idea, especially with the Cavaliers breaking in a new quarterback and three different coordinators. However, as stated above, it is not the administration's fault that a middle of the road PAC 12 squad turned into a top program in just two short years. The administration should also not be blamed for scheduling the team's only marquee win from a year ago.
Fingers should be pointed elsewhere for the grim outlook of the 2014 season.