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Building a non conference schedule is typically an unsatisfying exercise for any collegiate athletics director. Such is the case for Miami AD Blake James.
Not every opponent can be high-profile, not every game contract a financial windfall. All teams have their share of unappealing games on the slate. Some pay to knock around visiting lightweights. Others trade home games with mid-majors, which Miami has done a few times.
Though James discussed details of several future games, Miami is a private school and is not required to disclose its financial dealings. It does play several public schools, so The Post requested copies of every available non conference game contract. Several were promptly returned. Others were denied.
For review: There are three different ways to do a non-league game.
1. Teams can play at neutral sites, often with great fanfare and big TV promotion.
2. There are home-and-home deals, usually involving little more than expenses for the visiting team.
3. A "guarantee game" in which a team pays another team to visit. Most "Power Five" teams do this, typically with FCS opponents.
Here's a look at the 2018 non conference schedule:
LSU: Sept. 1 at AT&T Stadium, Arlington, Texas.
Scheduling is an imperfect activity. When signing contracts for future games, it's impossible to know how strong an opponent will be.
Next year's season-opener isn't far away, and UM believes it will be one of high interest.
Much more than Toledo, for sure.
Miami went 9-4 last year, and is widely projected to win the ACC Coastal in 2017, and barring an unexpected collapse, will sign a highly regarded recruiting class in 2018. LSU, which went 8-4 last year, is thought of as an SEC heavyweight and always recruits well. The game at Jerry's World, brokered by ESPN and the Dallas Cowboys' stadium and events committees, should be must-watch stuff.
It's a rematch of the 2005 Peach Bowl -- a 40-3 shellacking that stands as one of UM's worst setbacks ever, capped by a tunnel brawl between the teams -- but the focus of the 2018 game could be on teams looking to make early playoff statements.
"I think it lines up well for us as a program," James said. "We're thrilled to be in Dallas, at a world-class facility. I'd say probably next to Hard Rock Stadium, it's the next-best stadium out there. It's a great program to be playing. LSU has done a lot of great things. I'm sure they'll be there with a pretty good team next year."
The contract does not pay both sides equally. LSU will earn $4.75 million, per its contract, which does not include such details on Miami. James wouldn't disclose the exact number, but said Miami will earn more than half that (which would be more than $2.375 million).
The reason, in general terms: It probably won't be an equal crowd. LSU is within driving distance (444 miles) to Jerry's World and has been given more tickets to sell (25,000). Miami earns less, but is required to sell fewer tickets (between 5-10,000, James estimated).
"We're significantly lower in terms of what we're required to meet financially on the ticket side," James said. "While we have a very good payday, it's not at that level. ... It's a great opportunity for us financially, and for our program."
An interesting clause in LSU's contract — believed to also be in UM's — states that ESPN can back out of the game if LSU is found to be guilty of serious NCAA violations (such as a postseason ban of two years or more). James said UM would have no problem accepting such a stipulation. This is believed to be in other ESPN contracts.
James said LSU's "extras" — 250 complimentary tickets, two 20-person suites, a field-level suite, seating for the band and cheerleaders, and parking passes — are "in line" with what Miami gets.
SAVANNAH STATE: Sept. 8 at Hard Rock Stadium.
Miami will play the FCS team, James told The Post. He did not disclose details of the contract .
Savannah State is best known for its losing role in the most lopsided win in Hurricanes history, in 2013: a 77-7 drubbing in which UM set a school record for points. UM quarterback Stephen Morris, however, was injured in the game .
TOLEDO: Sept. 15 at the Glass Bowl, Toledo, Ohio.
Miami visits the 26,248-seat stadium after twice pushing back the mid-major trip.
There is a chance, James said, that this game could be moved again. (Scheduling is a fluid exercise, as noted before.)
The record for a game at the Glass Bowl is 36,852, set in 2001 during a game against Navy. Toledo has hosted Power Five teams before — most recently Iowa State in 2015 — but the Hurricanes could challenge the record.
It could also be a homecoming for Miami defensive line coach Craig Kuligowski, who was a first-team All-MAC offensive lineman at Toledo in 1989-90, as a junior and senior. Kuligowski was on the Rockets' staff from 1992-2000, before earning a reputation as an NFL talent-producer at Missouri (2001-15).
FIU: Sept. 22 at Hard Rock Stadium.
This is Miami's first time playing the Panthers since 2006.
"We want the crosstown rivalry," then-UM President Donna Shalala said in 2014 when the series was finalized between the schools whose campuses are just 9 miles apart.
In a home-and-home set, the visiting school will get $500,000 from the home school. As FIU AD Pete Garcia noted at the time, the main benefit will be the "hundreds of thousands of dollars in savings" on travel.
And plenty of intrigue, especially if coach Butch Davis builds the Panthers into a feisty mid-major. Davis, who was UM's head coach from 1995-2000 and is credited with bringing the program back to national prominence, badly wanted the Canes' head coaching job again in 2015 but was passed over for Richt.
Not Rutgers: In January, Rutgers canceled the home-and-home series it signed in 2009 in favor of a more manageable matchup with Boston College. Its fee for doing that: $100,000, per NJ.com. Miami would have visited Rutgers in 2018 and hosted in 2019.
Noteworthy: Miami visits Boston College in ACC crossover play. It last played in Chestnut Hill, Mass., to open the 2012 season.
The Hurricanes host Duke, North Carolina, Pittsburgh and crossover rival FSU. They'll visit Georgia Tech, Virginia and Virginia Tech.
[email protected] Twitter: @mattyports
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