Coastal Carolina-BYU shows us how college football scheduling should be done
If you watched college football this weekend, you'd notice your Twitter timeline flooded with tweets about one game in particular. BYU and Coastal Carolina gave us one of the best games of the 2020 season, with the Chanticleers coming away with the upset win at home in thrilling fashion. It was a reminder that schools can make things happen on short notice, games can be intense if the teams have never faced each other, and that college football needs to change how they do scheduling.
Coastal Carolina was supposed to face Liberty this weekend. When COVID canceled the game, BYU jumped in to give them a game. Both teams came in undefeated, and Coastal Carolina stopped a BYU Hail Mary just yards shy of a touchdown for the 22-17 win. The game had everything too.
Coastal Carolina's RPO offense gave BYU's defense fits, running efficient drives thanks to the play of freshman quarterback Grayson McCall.
BYU's Zach Wilson, despite not putting up gaudy numbers, still did Zach Wilson things, and played a part in the games biggest controversy. Just before halftime, he threw an interception on a Hail Mary, and Coastal Carolina took advantage of an opportunity to block the Cougars star quarterback.
Whether you think this should be a penalty or not, it sparked an benches emptying incident with some players throwing punches. When you hit a quarterback like that, there's going to be a strong reaction. These two teams were going at it all game, and it was awesome to see, because it was a reminder that you don't need a rivalry to get into it with someone. BYU and Coastal Carolina had never faced each other before this weekend, but you couldn't tell with how hard they were playing. That's what we want in a college football game, but it's tough to get those with how college football teams make their schedules.
Every time I see an announcement stating Team A will schedule a home-and-home series with Team B, it's always too far away. Games that I saw this offseason weren't going to be played until 2024 at the earliest. So much can change by then, and you're not exactly guaranteeing quality competition when you do that. Four years ago, BYU wouldn't have even entertained the idea of scheduling Coastal Carolina. Five years ago, the Chanticleers weren't an FBS program. With the exception of a few teams, so much changes for each program that it seems wrong to schedule a game out so far when you don't know much about the other team by then.
I understand that this is a rare instance where two teams came together within days to play this game, but colleges need to find a way to schedule things closer to the current season. The reality is that these are the games that make college football what it is, not traditional rivalries (that seem to have lost their thrill as of late). There's a reason why we get so excited for the season to start, and it's because of the nonconference games. Putting two teams that don't normally see each other on the same field provides a new level of intrigue that can't be matched by Alabama-LSU or Ohio State-Michigan. It's just not the same.
As long as the College Football Playoff only admits four teams to participate, underdogs need to find quality nonconference games that will give them a chance to make it. At that point the committee would have to respect those teams for the wins they produce. With a new type of scheduling closer to the season, those games can happen. It's possible for schools to get these games on their schedules, and in the end it would bring in more revenue to the teams participating. More intrigue means more fans which means more money, and that's reason enough for the schools to do it. If you found joy out of watching BYU and Coastal Carolina battle it out Saturday, I'm glad you enjoy the beauty of the sports. If you didn't, I'm sorry you limit your excitement on a weekly basis. These are the games that make college football great, and we need more of them every year.