For a bit over a week UB fans have been able to chew on how they feel about the fact Buffalo picked up a second FCS game. In that time I've had the chance to consider the following.
1 - It Happens
Within the MAC It happened to EMU and Ball State in recent years. In the case of Ball State the Cards got snookered into a 1:1 with an FCS team which they then had to buy out.
It even happens in the Illustrious Pac12 where Arizona State had to schedule two games back in 2010. It also happened to our Orange "Friends" half way up the 90. More often than fans realize a team gets stuck with two FCS games.
So while it's not the preferred way for our schedule to play out it's not unprecedented at any level.
2 - When it happens all fan bases think it's the end of the world, then the world does not end.
In each instance where an FBS team "slums it" by playing to payday games the fan base reacts first by being as upset as UB fans were when the game was announced. The teams who won eight or nine games those seasons did not care that two were FCS games. The teams that won three or four did not care that two were FCS games.
The only impact could be on teams with 6 or 7 wins, but in the MAC 6 or 7 wins does not guarantee you a bowl game. Just ask Toledo.
3 - UB's attendance is on the uptick and the Dukes are a "Cheap" home game.
Thanks to the Freedom of Information Act I've had a peek at the game contract. The initial deal was struck back in May of 2013 and cost the Bulls 125,000 dollars. In terms of "Pay Day FCS games" that's as good a price as you can find. As a season-opening home game UB should more than make their money back on the game.
The profit from the Duquesne game is not going to fund the field house but as a bonus for seasons ticket holders.
I recently had a chance to ask UB Athletic Director Danny White how UB ended up with the second FCS game on their schedule, the lessons learned, what the future holds for UB football scheduling.
At the end of the day the driving factor is to put UB forth as College Sports in the minds of Western New Yorkers. You can not do that when you open the season on the road four out of five seasons. In Buffalo attendance is going to be better in August, September, and very early October.
The final game gives UB home dates on August 30th, September 13th and September 20th. When the MAC releases the conference slate UB could receive a home conference opener on September 27th. Four home games before October will help the program challenge last years attendance marks.
"I looked at moving the Norfolk Game to August 30th", White told Bull Run "Norfolk could not make that date work"
An FCS game was not the ideal solution for White, who says his guiding principle in scheduling is "Like-minded FBS programs located in UB's recruiting footprint". But when last season was over and Toledo missed out on a Bowl it showed the world that for mid-majors 7 wins, even good wins, are no guarantee that you go bowling.
With the lessons taken from 2014 and a firm idea of his goals, White is close to locking in UB's 2015 schedule. Buffalo already has games scheduled against Penn State (@ Penn State), Boston College (Site is up in the air), and an away game at FAU.
With at least two away games, it's probably a safe assumption that there will be a home FCS game.
So with all of this people are falling into two camps.
One camp is happy for another home game but not thrilled it's an FCS team. As a resident of this camp I wish it were possible for UB to pay the Dukes the 150,000 buyout and bring in FIU but who's to say FIU wanted to play their first game of the season away?
The other camp consists of people who would rather have UB take a paycheck game. Khalil Mack owes a lot of his draft clout to the Ohio State game and the national press his play generated. But losing a pay day game against a P5 powerhouse or winning one against an FCS Cupcake have the exact same effect on a teams bowl eligibility.
Both camps make good points and both will still be wearing Blue and White when the season starts.