Athletic directors striking delicate balance with schedules

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              FILE - At left, in a Nov. 13, 2017, file photo, Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick watches an NCAA college basketball game between Notre Dame and Mount St. Mary's in South Bend, Ind. Second from left, in a March 29, 2016, file photo, Tulane University athletic director Troy Dannen speaks at a news conference in New Orleans. Second from right, in a Nov. 27, 2017, file photo, Florida athletic director Scott Stricklin smiles in Gainesville, Fla. And at right, in a Dec. 11, 2017, file photo, ChrisDel Conte smiles as he is introduced as the new athletic director at the Univ. of Texas, in Austin. Ask athletic directors what they are trying to accomplish when they build a nonconference football schedule and the objectives are mostly the same: Come up with a slate of games that allows the school to meet its competitive and financial goals. (AP Photo/File)
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Ask athletic directors what they are trying to accomplish when they build a nonconference football schedule and the objectives are mostly the same: Come up with a slate of games that allows the school to meet its competitive and financial goals.

What are those goals? The answers vary widely.

There is no national standardization in college football scheduling, which means there have been debates, complaints and ridicule for as long as marching bands have been performing at halftime.

One thing is sure: In the College Football Playoff era, the emphasis on strength of schedule is greater than ever. But while fans clamor for more matchups between top teams, much of what goes into scheduling is only tangentially related to the potential quality of the game.

“I always tell people there are no rules in the scheduling business,” said Dave Brown, the former ESPN executive and brains behind the popular scheduling software Gridiron. “For some guys, certainly the finances are an important component. For some schools, it’s about, hey, do we recruit that area? Is it a good donor trip? Does it competitively balance our schedule? Does it allow us not to play three games in a row at home or three games in a row on the road? All those things come into it.”

The Associated Press spoke with five ADs about what goes into their scheduling: