NC State's Scheduling Process And Philosophy

NC State's Scheduling Process And Philosophy

RALEIGH, N.C. - How does a college football schedule come together?

While not an exact science, the key ingredients of the process are A) existing conference rotations and requirements, B) opportunities for player development and competitive success, and C) seizing special occasions for marquee or regional match-ups when available.

The ACC rotation is set for NC State until 2024. As a member of the loaded Atlantic Division, that means annual match-ups with national powers Florida State, Clemson and league newcomer Louisville, all of which finished in the Top 15 nationally each of the last two years. Syracuse, Boston College and Wake Forest complete the Wolfpack's divisional opponents each season.

"The reality is that not all ACC schedules are created equally," said NC State Director of Athletics, Debbie Yow. "We need to balance a very challenging conference slate with the right philosophy for our program's growth."

Mix in annual Coastal Division cross-over rival UNC-CH, and the periodic inclusion of Notre Dame to the schedule, and an already solid nucleus is in place.

The Wolfpack will rotate through remaining Coastal Division opponents over the next 10 years as follows: Georgia Tech (2014/2019), Virginia Tech (2015/2022), Miami (2016/2021), Pittsburgh (2017/2024), Virginia (2018/2023), and Duke (2020).

What about the non-conference schedule?

"Non-conference scheduling provides additional opportunities, but is a more complicated process than people might suspect," said Yow. "You want to strike a balance between overall schedule strength, opportunities for competitive growth, an attractive home slate, marquee matchups for exposure and more. We've added really attractive games in the future, while mixing in a number of opponents that will help our young team continue to develop."

The process of scheduling includes three individuals: head coach Dave Doeren, Yow and Senior Associate Athletics Director Michael Lipitz.

NC State has traditionally played a strong non-conference schedule, including recent meetings with SEC opponents Tennessee and South Carolina, as well as recent BCS Bowl participants Cincinnati and UConn.

In May the ACC reached an agreement to remain with an eight-game league schedule while requiring all teams to schedule at least one non-conference opponent from a Power 5 conference (ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, PAC 12, SEC) beginning in 2017.

The Wolfpack fulfills that requirement a year early with Notre Dame set to visit Carter-Finley Stadium on Oct. 8, 2016. NC State will return to South Bend in 2017, before hosting Notre Dame again in 2022.

For the four seasons between games against the Irish, the Pack recently added a pair of marquee matchups from Power 5 conferences, securing home-and-home series with West Virginia of the Big 12 and Mississippi State of the SEC.

"I'm excited for our players to have the opportunity to experience playing in these showcase games outside of the league," said Doeren.

The Mountaineers will come to Raleigh in 2018, while the Pack will visit Morgantown in 2019. In 2020, the Bulldogs come to Raleigh, followed by a return trip to Starkville in 2021.

NC State had originally scheduled LSU for the 2017 and 2020 seasons, but the Tigers opted to buyout the series.

"It may seem strange to schedule seven to 10 years in advance," said Lipitz. "The cost of waiting, however, is that Power 5 opponents fill up for home-and-home series and neutral site matchups, while other FBS opponents and FCS programs cost significantly more in guarantees to secure additional home games. Getting ahead of the curve maximizes opportunities to schedule in the best interests of our student-athletes and fans."

With a roster featuring 74 freshmen and sophomores (including redshirts), the near term schedule is designed to support the building process for Doeren, his staff and players, giving a young squad the opportunity to grow, develop and reach its potential.

In the 2014 schedule, the current administration inherited one home game with Presbyterian, and a pair of road games with South Florida and Central Michigan - the latter of which the Wolfpack opted to buyout to secure a seventh home date.  NC State added Old Dominion in Raleigh in 2014 and 2016, and plays in Norfolk in 2015, an important recruiting area for the program.

The Wolfpack also recently added Troy for a home-and-home series in 2015 and 2017. Troy has been to five bowl games over the past decade and has recently hosted such notable opponents as Missouri, Oklahoma State and Mississippi State, and will host Duke and Boise State in the near future.  

Long-time rival East Carolina, now of the American Athletic Conference, remains a fixture on the schedule with the Wolfpack set to visit Greenville in 2016 and 2022, while the Pirates come to Raleigh in 2019.

NC State will also host Georgia State in 2016.

A series with Marshall out of Conference USA has also been added with the Herd coming to Raleigh in 2017 and the Wolfpack traveling to Huntington in 2018.

NC State will continue to host one FCS opponent each season. Eastern Kentucky visits Raleigh in 2015 followed by William & Mary in 2016. Furman comes to Carter-Finley in both 2017 and 2021. In between, the Wolfpack will host James Madison (2018), Western Carolina (2019) and Delaware (2020). Charleston Southern has been added for 2022 and Western Carolina returns in 2024.

The non-conference scheduling philosophy moving forward will generally be one Power 5 conference team, two FBS opponents from among the American, C-USA, MAC, Sunbelt and WAC, and one FCS opponent. This ideally translates into a seven-game home schedule, which NC State seeks to attain in most years for competitive advantage, to achieve annual revenue goals, and for the accessibility and enjoyment of Wolfpack fans.

NC State also hasn't ruled out the possibility of future, marquee neutral site match-ups, provided they make sense.

"We continue to consider opportunities in Charlotte, Atlanta, Washington D.C. and other markets for the right combination of opponent, date, television exposure and revenue," said Yow.

Future NC State Schedules at a Glance:

2015
Conference
Home - Clemson, Louisville, Syracuse, UNC-CH
Away - Florida State, Boston College, Wake Forest, Virginia Tech (cross-over)
Non-Conference - Troy, at Old Dominion, at South Alabama, Eastern Kentucky

2016
Conference
Home - Florida State, Boston College, Wake Forest, Miami (cross-over)
Away - Clemson, Louisville, Syracuse, UNC-CH
Non-Conference - Notre Dame, at ECU, Old Dominion, William & Mary

2017
Conference
Home - Clemson, Louisville, Syracuse, UNC-CH
Away - Florida State, Boston College, Wake Forest, Pittsburgh (cross-over)
Non-Conference - at Notre Dame, Marshall, at Troy, Furman

2018
Conference
Home - Florida State, Boston College, Wake Forest, Virginia (cross-over)
Away- Clemson, Louisville, Syracuse, UNC-CH
Non-Conference - West Virginia, at Marshall, Georgia State, James Madison

2019
Conference
Home - Clemson, Louisville, Syracuse, UNC-CH
Away - Florida State, Boston College, Wake Forest, Georgia Tech (cross-over)
Non-Conference - at West Virginia, Ball State, East Carolina, Western Carolina

2020
Conference
Home - Florida State, Boston College, Wake Forest, Duke (cross-over)
Away - Clemson, Louisville, Syracuse, UNC-CH
Non-Conference - Mississippi State, Delaware

2021
Conference
Home - Clemson, Louisville, Syracuse, UNC-CH
Away - Florida State, Boston College, Wake Forest, Miami (cross-over)
Non-Conference - at Mississippi State, Furman  

2022
Conference
Home -Florida State, Boston College, Wake Forest, Virginia Tech (cross-over)
Away - Clemson, Louisville, Syracuse, UNC-CH
Non-Conference - Notre Dame, at East Carolina, Charleston Southern  

2023
Conference
Home - Clemson, Louisville, Syracuse, UNC-CH
Away - Florida State, Boston College, Wake Forest, Virginia (cross-over)
Non-Conference - TBD

2024
Conference
Home -Florida State, Boston College, Wake Forest, Pittsburgh (cross-over)
Away - Clemson, Louisville, Syracuse, UNC-CH
Non-Conference - Western Carolina

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