For better or worse the Gopher football is seeing a transformation in nearly all areas (win percentage hasn't really changed yet). In just a few short years they are playing their games outdoors on campus, they have become a factor on the national recruiting scene and scheduling MAC teams as our most challenging out of conference game has become a thing of the past. The Gophers have at least one BCS conference team the schedule for the next seven seasons with two Texas games pending...
- 2009 - Syracuse, Air Force, Cal, South Dak St
- 2010 - USC, SDSU, tbd, tbd
- 2011 - USC, NDSU, Miami(Ohio), tbd
- 2012 - Colorado, Syracuse, UNLV, tbd
- 2013 - Colorado, UNLV, W Ill, San Jose St
- 2014 - Oregon St, San Jose St, Miami(Ohio), tbd
- 2015 - Oregon St, SDSU, Ohio, tbd
Dates are not set but the Gophers are likely set to play the Longhorns. Is it possible that in 2011 we'd see both USC and Texas on the schedule? I'm guessing 2013 we will drop someone and add UT, then return in 2014 or 2015.
Most of us have always longed for a slightly more challenging schedule but never would I have imagined a year ago that we would have USC and Texas on future schedules.
What becomes interesting now is the debate, is this a good idea? For years Mason was ripped for playing nobody early and not having teams prepared for the Big Ten season. Now I'm certain you will hear a large contingent complaining that we are going to get killed and these games will just make it impossible to earn a bowl bid. As a united Gopher Nation, we can't have it both ways.
We have dipped into Texas often for recruiting and this can only help with Texas kids and other talented high school athletes around the country. Most kids would rather come to a school where they know they'll get to play USC and Texas as opposed to Toledo or South Dakota State. Especially those Texas kids, they will love the opportunity to come back home and beat the Longhorns.
This raises our national profile. I'm not talking about rankings and getting BCS games by winning these games. But just scheduling the best raises your profile. We become relevant and these kind of games get on national TV. The result of the games is important but so is just getting these games on the schedule.
Any given Saturday...I'm not counting on a win until I see some changes on the field. BUT stealing a win in just one of these games can do a LOT for a program. That goes on the recruiting resume and gives this program a ton of confidence that they can start to elevate into a good program.
This will bring in money. These games are likely to be televised nationally, maybe even a prime-time game or two. But just the revenue from these games is greater than paying "Sacrificial Directional 1AA State" to come play us.
Despite Brewster's herculean recruiting efforts, the talent gap will still be huge. Texas and USC get their pick of four and five star recruits. The USC games in particular will have a massive talent gap. Maybe by the time we face Texas there will be several good Brewster classes to raise our overall talent level, but 2010 will still show the difference between an elite program and one trying to get to the upper echelon of their own conference.
This makes bowl games much more difficult. Gone are the days of the Mason bowl formula
three or four NC wins + two or three B10 wins = mediocre bowl
Going forward we will either have to beat the better non-conference teams or finish 5-3 in conference (Mason's best B10 mark). I would guess this means we will see seasons of either a good bowl or no bowl at all. If we get bowl eligible we will have had to beat a good team or two which elevates us above the Sun Bowl, or we will have too few wins to get to play in December.
These scores "could" get ugly.
- Chances to win - slim
- Chances to be competitive - decent
- Chance we get blown out - just as decent
At the very least the weeks leading up to the Texas and USC games will be a lot of fun. We'll all debate if USC has a chance at slowing down MarQueis Gray and how many times will we burn Nolan Brewster as we roll up Texas.