Sports column: Your kids and grandkids are excited for these games

Published 7:55 am Friday, November 15, 2019

Have you heard that Ole Miss has scheduled home-and-home football series with Purdue and Virginia Tech? Ole Miss hasn’t played Purdue since 1929 and Virginia Tech since 1968, so they should be interesting games.

If we’re all still here to see them.

They don’t play Purdue until 2033 and 2034. The Virginia Tech games are in 2032 and 2037. Kids born this year are getting fired up to see the Hokies come to Oxford when they’re in their freshman year there.

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Alabama has put Notre Dame and Oklahoma on the schedule! LSU is playing Clemson! Those games ought to shake up the College Football Playoff races between 2025 and 2033.

Thinking about big football games in the years to come is a cottage industry. The NFL fills a few days of its offseason calendar by releasing and discussing the next season’s schedule. College programs love to make breathless announcements of their future opponents.

All of that is well and good. The problem is in the fine print, where you often find out that these awesome matchups will involve players who are just now learning what a football is. As a fan, it’s like getting a birthday present and then having your parents put it on a high shelf for safekeeping.

It’s even crazier when “scheduling” becomes a big buzzword in the national title discussion. Georgia and Clemson have scheduled a four-game series between 2029 and 2033. Those would be huge games in 2020, but who knows if either program will slump by then? If Clemson is working on an undefeated season in 2032, but Georgia is enduring a string of 6-6 seasons, will Clemson be accused of weak scheduling for a game scheduled more than a decade earlier?

I understand the need to lock in opponents a couple of years ahead of time. Scheduling is far more complicated than Team A calling Team B and saying, “Let’s play.” There are only three or four non-conference dates available each season and they fill up fast, especially when you factor in annual rivalries like Florida-Florida State or Georgia-Georgia Tech.

Common dates are difficult to find, and some matchups evaporate if teams change conferences or want to play someone else.

But can we please put a limit on how far down the road you can schedule a game? Six or seven years seems reasonable. Scheduling a game that is literally a generation away is not.

Ernest Bowker is the sports editor of The Vicksburg Post. He can be reached at ernest.bowker@vicksburgpost.com

About Ernest Bowker

Ernest Bowker is The Vicksburg Post's sports editor. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post's sports staff since 1998, making him one of the longest-tenured reporters in the paper's 139-year history. The New Jersey native is a graduate of LSU. In his career, he has won more than 50 awards from the Mississippi Press Association and Associated Press for his coverage of local sports in Vicksburg.

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