The concerns about ACC scheduling have been discussed here before, but I don't believe anyone has ever thoroughly researched the trends in the ACC's scheduling of Florida State. There seems to be two major issues with the ACC's scheduling of Florida State. The first being a tendency to schedule the Seminoles for Monday and Thursday night games, sometimes both in the same season, and often times within five days of another game. The other problem concerns the ACC's habit of scheduling important conference games, sometimes against the tougher opponents in the conference, right before or after a very tough non-conference opponent. I will highlight both situations, starting with the Monday and Thursday games.
Out of twenty seasons in the ACC, the Seminoles have played eight seasons of what I consider to be "normal" seasons, being that there were no Monday or Thursday games, excluding post-season. In the other twelve seasons, the Seminoles have been called upon time and again to take one for the team to play a Monday or Thursday night game, and in some instances both in one season. One season even featured two back-to-back Thursday night games. Listed below are every Monday or Thursday game the Seminoles have played since their first season in the ACC in 1992.
2011 - Played NC State at home on Saturday, October 29th, and traveled 1,000 miles to play at Boston College for a Thursday night game on November 3rd . Lovely traveling distance on five days turnaround.
2010 - Played Boston College at home on Saturday, October 16th, then traveled 500 miles to Raleigh to play at NC State for a Thursday night game on October 28th with five days turnaround which resulted in a loss.
2009 - Played Miami at home on Monday, September 7th, 2009, followed by Jacksonville State at home on Saturday, September 12th with five days rest, resulting in a very sloppy game that was much too close for comfort against an FCS program.
2009 - Played a Thursday night game at North Carolina on October 22nd, but had eleven days off between the game prior, and eight days off before the next.
2008 - Played a Thursday night game at NC State on October 16th, but did not play the Saturday before or after.
2007 - Played Monday night, September 3rd, 2007 at Clemson, came home and played UAB on five days rest. Score was FSU 34- UAB 24 (before win vacated), but probably wouldn't have been if rested normally.
2007 - Played at NC State on Saturday, October 6th, and then went to play at Wake Forest on five days rest on Thursday, October 11th, resulting in a loss.
2006 - Played at Miami on Monday, September 4th, and against Troy at home on Saturday, September 9th. FSU 24 - Troy 17. Would it have been so close on normal rest?
2006 - Played a Thursday night game at NC State on October 5th, but were off the Saturdays before and after.
2005 - Played Miami at home on Monday, September 5th, and the Citadel at home the following Saturday. FSU 62 - Citadel 10. Would it have been so close on proper rest? Sarcasm.
2004 - Played a Friday night game at Miami due to Hurricane Francis. Game was originally scheduled for Monday, September 6th. Next game was September 18th at home against UAB, so either way they would have still had plenty of rest.
2004 - Played Duke at home on Saturday, November 6th, before traveling to Raleigh for a Thursday night game at NC State on five days rest.
2002 - Played Duke at home on Saturday, September 21st, before traveling to play a non-conference game at Louisville on Thursday, September 26th, on five days rest, resulting in a loss. Returned home for a second consecutive Thursday night game against Clemson
1998 - Played Monday, August 31st, against Texas A&M at Giants Stadium in New Jersey, but did not play the following Saturday.
1996 - Played a Thursday night game at NC State on September 19th, 1996, but did not play the Saturdays before or after.
1995 - Played a Thursday night game at Virginia on November 2nd, which was a loss, but did not play the Saturdays before or after.
Rather than improve the football side of the conference in order to generate more interest in the conference, which would lead to higher viewership and attendance, which in turn leads to better tv deals and bowl tie-ins, the ACC has found it easier to simply break out it's flagship, marquee program for the ol' dog and pony show to gain many viewers and high ratings on Labor Day Mondays, and Thursday evenings when there's no other games on. The ACC, being the premier academic BCS AQ conference, has never hesitated to jump at the opportunity to schedule the Seminoles on a Monday or Thursday game with little to no concern toward the players' health or academics, as they have done so seventeen times: eleven Thursday games, and six Monday games including the Friday night game that was originally scheduled for a Monday, but postponed due to Hurricane Francis in 2004. Of these seventeen Monday and Thursday (and one Friday!) games, nine of them required the players to play two games in five days. Of these nine occasions, only in three times did it result in a loss, but it resulted in some very sloppy play, and some very close calls in several other games, some of which were to far inferior teams, such as Jacksonville State, UAB, and Troy.
While there were several factors involved in Florida State's decline (Richt leaving, Jeff Bowden's promotion to OC, Bobby's aging), it appears the scheduling of Monday and Thursday night games may have played a factor as well. From 1992 through 2001, Florida State was scheduled for only three Monday or Thursday night games. During this time they finished with 10 wins in nine of these ten seasons, and played in nine BCS bowls (or what would soon become BCS bowls), five of which were the National Title Game. Since 2002, over ten seasons, Florida State has been scheduled for fourteen Monday or Thursday night games, including the nine occasions where it required student athletes to play two game within five days. Also, during this time, Florida State has had two 10-win seasons out of ten seasons, and appeared in three BCS bowl games. I'm not saying the scheduling of Monday and Thursday night games are the reason for the decline, but I am saying they haven't been helping.
The scheduling around Florida State's non-conference schedule has also been a problem. I believe the questions were posed in an article by Bud Elliot whether the ACC wants or cares about it's members beating the opposition from other conferences. It was pointed out that Florida State, Clemson, and Georgia Tech have all been continuously shafted with important conference games the week before each of their respective SEC rivals, while the SEC rivals have taken their bye, or played a cupcake the week before. Granted, Florida State hasn't always given the ACC much to work with in some years by scheduling two or three tough non-conference opponents.
2011 - Florida State got to enjoy the week before playing away at their biggest rival by preparing for and playing an important conference game against cross-divisional Virginia. Meanwhile, the Gators spent their week before the Seminoles by preparing for and playing.......Furman at the Swamp.
2011 - While playing a huge non-conference opponent on a national scale with all eyes on the ACC and Big 12, the Seminoles got to spend all their effort preparing for #1 Oklahoma, while their most important divisional game was scheduled for the following week at Clemson. In all fairness, Clemson was put in the same boat by being sandwiched between reigning National Champion Auburn, and Virginia Tech. Did the ACC even WANT two of it's better programs to beat these non-conference opponents?
2010 - Florida State spent the week before the Florida game prepping for and playing an important divisional game @ Maryland, while Florida's focus was Appalachian State in the Swamp.
2009 - Florida State had Maryland at home the week before Florida, while the Gators had Florida International in the Swamp.
2008 - Florida State played @ Maryland the week before Florida while the Gators had The Citadel in the Swamp.
2007 - Florida State plays Maryland at home the week before going to Gainesville, while the Gators warm up with Florida Atlantic.
2002 - November 23rd, Florida State plays a conference game at NC State, getting a loss the week before the Florida game. The Gators, on the other hand are enjoying a bye.
This is more of a recent trend. The ACC used to do better and schedule a bye before the Florida game, or in some years they scheduled the obligatory Thursday night game against a divisional opponent nine days before the Florida game, which is at least a little better, giving nine days to prep.
These scheduling woes are not the cause of the down-slide in recent years. The best team in the country, a true National Champion, should be able to navigate these schedules. The hard truth, as we all know by now, is the Seminoles haven't been National Champion caliber in a little while. However, for a good team, who has done a lot for the ACC, and brought a lot to the ACC, and is improving, and hoping to get back to that top tier, wouldn't it be wise to stop stacking things against them? Perhaps the end of the losses and sluggish performances due to five-day turnarounds would be all that is needed to boost enough confidence, and build enough momentum to get back to the national scene.