Stronger. Faster. Adjectives any college football coach would like to use to describe his roster have become the mantra of college athletic directors when building their football schedules.
There's a change taking place.
As reported by The Dallas Morning News, in March the University of Oklahoma and Clemson University announced a home-and-home series — for 2035 and '36.
"Just for perspective, the future players for that game have just started school, maybe," wrote Chuck Carlton. "And Clemson freshman quarterback Trevor Lawrence, who led the Tigers to the national championship, could be in his 15th NFL season by then.
Dennis Dodd of CBS Sports reported that University of Florida athletic director Scott Strickland combined the announcement of a home-and-home series with Colorado in 2028-'29 with the tease of something bigger. A couple of days later, Strickland tweeted that Florida had agreed to a home-and-home with Texas in 2030-31.
"There was a bit of obvious jaw-dropping around college football," Dodds wrote. "Florida hasn't gone outside the state for a non-conference regular-season game since 1991, and it has not played a home-and-home out of state since 1989."
Earlier this month, the Boulder Daily Camara pointed out that, according to FBSSchedules.com, Colorado is the only team in the country that has filled out its non-conference schedule for the next decade (though 2028). Seven times in the next 10 years, CU will play Power 5 opponents in 11 of its 12 games. No team in the country can match that and only three teams — Purdue, Stanford and West Virginia — have more than two such seasons scheduled. Colorado, which has made only one bowl appearance over the past 11 seasons, is replacing teams like Idaho State and New Hampshire on the schedule with the likes of Texas A&M, TCU and Minnesota. There are only 13 Group of 5 or Football Championship Series teams on CU’s schedule for the next 10 years, compared to 107 against the Power Five conferences (counting Pac-12 games), prompting David Ching of Forbes to declare in a headline, "Colorado Might Have Created The Blueprint For Future Power Five Scheduling."
What's driving the aggressiveness? The widely held belief that it's just a matter of time before the College Football Playoff expands the number of berths awarded each year. Strength of schedule has taken on importance like never before. Declining attendance across college football is also incentive to sweeten the the matchups on any given Saturday. Attendance was down for the seventh time in eight seasons in 2018, to the lowest nationwide average in 22 years.
"The distinction between some schools is very thin," Georgia athletic director Greg McGarity told CBS Sports. "If I'm sitting in the room and I'm a selection committee member, I'm going to value who you play and how did you schedule up. You get extra credit there. I think that's where it's leading."
More ADs seem to be realizing the future is now.
"You have to get ahead of it," Southern Methodist athletic director Rick Hart told The Dallas Morning News. "There's more risk in waiting too long than doing something too soon."