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  • Top teams are beefing up their future nonconference schedules, but the reason it took this long is the same reason we have to wait another half-decade to watch.
By Andy Staples
May 13, 2019

The Scheduling-ening that was promised has finally begun.

After years of being asked to pay for full-priced tickets to half-assed games, fans began voting with their (whole) butts. They stopped showing up for the games that serve only to give the home team a win and the visiting team a check. The tickets were still sold in most cases, but concessions went un-bought and the empty seats gave athletic directors and coaches pause. They knew once the butt has opted out, the wallet that rests on the butt isn’t far behind.

Georgia dove headfirst into the breach. Bulldogs coach Kirby Smart professed a desire for three Power 5 nonconference games a year. Georgia—which already plays Georgia Tech every year—set up games with Oklahoma (2023 and 2031), Clemson (’29, ’30, ’31, ’33), Florida State (’27 and ’28) and Texas (’28 and ’29). As Georgia announced the last of these matchups last week, Florida athletic director Scott Stricklin hinted on Wednesday that the Gators—who hadn’t played an out-of-state nonconference game on another school’s campus since visiting Syracuse in 1991—also were about to announce some home-and-home series against Power 5 opponents.

The next day, Florida announced a series with Colorado in 2028 and ’29. That underwhelmed the Florida fans who wanted something resembling Georgia’s list. But on Friday, Florida announced a series with Texas in 2030 and ’31. This was met with the appropriate amount of glee, but fans who will be asked to pay actual money for a 2020 home schedule of Eastern Washington–Kentucky–South Alabama–LSU–Missouri–South Carolina–New Mexico State naturally wondered if there might be some interesting nonconference games outside of the Florida State series before everyone has flying cars. Stricklin says he’s working on it.

(Which would be one fewer than Georgia’s stated goal. Not that anyone is keeping score other than everyone.)

Hopefully, the rest of the Power 5 outside of scheduling all-stars such as Oklahoma, Texas and USC—who should just keep doing what they’ve been doing—will follow suit. It’s just a shame that this can’t start sooner. It wouldn’t be nice to buy out of all the paycheck games that no one wants to see anyway to schedule more interesting games sooner, and this is a population that doesn’t seem to mind paying buyouts. Still, I wouldn’t bet on a wholesale philosophy change until after the 2026 season. What happens then? The first College Football Playoff media rights deal ends. And if the Pac-12 or the Big Ten champ (or both) keep getting omitted from the field, the aggrieved leagues are going to demand a format that actually allows them to participate. Georgia may be rolling the dice with a 2028 schedule that includes non-conference games against Texas, Florida State and Georgia Tech, but in 2028 going 11–2 against that schedule with an SEC East title (but a loss in the conference championship) probably would be good enough for an at-large spot in an eight-team playoff.

It’s frustrating to think that we’ll probably have to sit through six more years of garbage nonconference scheduling before we get to the promised land, but it is fun to imagine what that future will look like. Let’s take a trip through time to Sept. 6, 2031 when Florida travels to Austin to face Texas.

What time is kickoff? They haven’t referred to the start of a game that way since kickoffs were eliminated prior to the 2027 season because the people who run the game realized that an unsafe play that got more boring every year wasn’t adding any value. So they replaced the kickoff with a play from a team’s own 35-yard line. Most teams choose to punt. This is safer than a kickoff because players shadow one another down the field rather than crashing into one another with a 30-yard head of steam. It’s also more exciting than a kickoff because more punts get returned for touchdowns. If a team wishes to keep the ball, it can try to gain 15 yards on that play. If it doesn’t make the line to gain, the opponent takes possession where the play was stopped. Greg Schiano and I were only 15 years ahead of our time on this one.

The game will be broadcast on Hulu, which bought the Big 12’s Tier One broadcast rights following a ferocious bidding war against ESPN and Amazon in 2024. Hulu has been broadcasting Big 12 games since 2025, but that could change soon. Bleepblorp*, only a tiny startup when that eight-year Hulu deal was made, has surpassed Netflix as the dominant streaming service because of its proprietary compression capabilities. Once Bleepblorp proved to users that it would allow them to flawlessly stream a 6K movie over a 6G network and only use three MB of data on their wireless plans, the company took off. It had wisely spent its venture capital on a streaming library of beloved—and semi-beloved—old TV shows. For one month in 2029, Small Wonder was the most binged show in America. 

More venture capital poured in, and Bleepblorp began snapping up sports rights. While the NFL and NBA remained too savvy to confine their rights to one platform, the NHL and Olympics happily took Bleepblorp’s money. In the meantime, college conferences realized they could make far more money by selling their rights together than they could selling them apart. As the Gators and Longhorns prepare to play, SEC commissioner Greg Sankey—yeah, he’s still there—and Big 12 commissioner Chris Del Conte (watching the game he signed as the Texas AD) quietly confer about a plan for the power conferences to merge their rights following the 2033–34 school year. That’s when the SEC’s deal with ESPN expires, and any non-ESPN bidder would be happy to buy out the last two years of the ACC’s ESPN deal. The goal is to force Disney/ESPN, FOX, Bleepblorp and anyone else who wants to bid to pay a premium for only a piece of the rights. Those will be split among several networks, as the NFL and NBA do. The only sticky wicket is the Pac-12, which still wants extra money to buy out its network. “Don’t worry,” Del Conte tells Sankey. “The Big 12 has a plan for our friends out west, just like they had a plan for us in 2010.”

*There is some controversy over how Bleepblorp acquired its compression technology. Rumors throughout Silicon Valley have pointed to the possible pillaging of always-in-crisis tech firm Pied Piper.

The game is the first major test for new Texas coach Sam Ehlinger, who shot up the ranks in four short years following his retirement from the NFL. Texas had slipped after Tom Herman left during the great NFL Migration of 2023—who knew Kliff Kingsbury would win three Super Bowls after getting fired at Texas Tech?—which also swept Oklahoma’s Lincoln Riley, Baylor’s Matt Rhule and Florida’s Dan Mullen into the NFL. The Longhorns struggled for seven years, but then Texas leadership realized that the only way to bring Texas back was with the guy who brought Texas back the last time. Meanwhile, fourth-year Florida coach Lane Kiffin is feeling the pressure. Georgia coach Smart was on the verge of getting fired before he broke through and won the national title in 2025. Now he’s won four more titles since, and he’s forced Florida to burn through two coaches since Mullen left. Kiffin might be victim No. 3 if he doesn’t have a big year and finally get a win in Jacksonville.

They’re planning for unusually tight security at the game because President Ed Orgeron plans to attend. Following Nick Saban’s retirement from Alabama following the 2021 season to replace retiring Lee Corso on ESPN’s College GameDay, Orgeron’s LSU team won the next two national titles. In the midst of the 2023 title run, Orgeron was elected lieutenant governor of Louisiana even though he didn’t actually campaign or appear on the ballot. He was so popular following the 2022 title and a convincing win against Florida the week before the election that 67% of voters wrote in his name on election day. Following a national title win against Oklahoma that January, Orgeron shocked the college football world when he announced his plan to serve in the office he had unexpectedly won.

After the governor resigned in 2025 following a scandal in which he embezzled funds earmarked for the National Crawfish Museum, Orgeron was elevated to the state’s top office. That’s right. He was an interim governor. But that didn’t last long. Orgeron kept the office following a landslide win in 2027, but he wouldn’t stay in Baton Rouge long. Political operatives looking to launch a third party noticed his ability to build consensus and begged him to come aboard. By the time Michigan coach Matt Campbell raised the school’s first national title trophy since 1997, Orgeron was in Iowa campaigning for the Tigah Party. Come November, the Democrats and Republicans never stood a chance.

Franklin Roosevelt had Fireside Chats. President O has One Nation, One Heartbeat meetings. Once a week, he marches through the West Wing at 7 a.m. banging a massive drum. It is broadcast live on every news channel, and after more than two years of these sessions, a divided nation has begun to come together.

What? Does all that sound too far-fetched? Until last week, so did the idea of Florida leaving the Sunshine State for a regular-season, out-of-conference football game on someone else’s campus.

A Random Ranking

We took the kids to see Detective Pikachu on Saturday, and the nine-year-old has declared it his own personal Citizen Kane (at least until the new Godzilla hits theaters). So let’s rank the top 10 Pokémon.

1. Mr. Mime
2. Pikachu
3. Blastoise
4. Mewtwo
5. Weezing
6. Geodude
7. Charizard
8. Dugtrio
9. Snorlax
10. Loudred

Three And Out

1. Rest in peace, former Arizona and Hawaii coach Dick Tomey. Tomey died Friday at age 80. He had been diagnosed with lung cancer in December.

2. SI’s Joan Niesen checked in on Wisconsin tailback Jonathan Taylor, who is spending this spring on the track. 

3. In this week’s transfer portal news, Florida’s top-rated class of 2019 signee (DB Chris Steele) is already looking for a new school. Meanwhile, former Ohio State quarterback Matthew Baldwin plans to transfer to TCU. Also, former North Carolina tailback Jordon Brown is headed to Kansas State, where he’ll be eligible to play immediately as a graduate transfer.

What’s Eating Andy?

I have many spoiler-y thoughts heading into the final episode of Game of Thrones, but I will share only one. (And I’ll try to stay away from as many spoilers as possible, but just skip to the next section if that’s an issue.) I haven’t enjoyed the compression of character arcs during these past two abbreviated seasons, but I have no problem with the way a certain character went out during Sunday night’s episode. This character, a complex man who flirts with redemption but who we know deep down is ultimately irredeemable because of his blind spot for a certain sibling, surrendered to his most basic need and got buried for it.

It probably wasn’t the death this character—or the aforementioned sibling—deserved, but it says something about how power can crumble quickly in the face of an unrelenting, innovative opponent. Sometimes characters don’t get the deaths they deserve, but sometimes that undeserving death serves the story. In The Wire, Omar gets taken out not by a coordinated effort but by a random act of violence. One of the most important people in his world gets bumped off by a kid robbing a store and then reduced to a throwaway mention in a note from the night shift cops to the morning shift. That was completely intentional, and it helped tell the story David Simon was trying to tell. So it didn’t bother me that two of the most important characters in the tale became just two more bodies in the rubble. Unlike many of the choices the showrunners made this season, that one served the story.

What’s Andy Eating?

I’m pretty sure I’ll never have a burger named after me, but during my last visit to Tuscaloosa, Ala., I realized I’m woefully underprepared should anyone ever bestow that honor upon me. Given my strong stances on nearly every culinary topic, it would seem only natural that I would have long ago mapped out my perfect burger. Alas, I have not.

This thought hit me as I stared at the extensive custom burger menu at Dotson’s Burger Spot. As I scanned the list of potential toppings, it occurred to me that I couldn’t tell anyone what to put on the AndyBurger. Something else also occurred to me: This milkshake has a healthy amount of bourbon in it.

Andy Staples

Perhaps I should have waited until dessert for that splendid mix of salted caramel ice cream, bourbon, caramel syrup and whipped cream, but I couldn’t resist. So I probably was in a bit of an altered state when I took my first crack at a signature burger.

This attempt had a decidedly Mexican (New and Old) lean because I couldn’t resist trying the ground chuck-chorizo patty. I topped it with house-made pepper jelly, pepper jack, a fried egg and bacon. I had all that wedged between two pieces of Texas toast because I’ll always choose Texas toast if it shows up on a list of bread options.

Andy Staples

Would this be my burger if someone asked me to attach my name to it? I don’t think so. Not because of the taste. The chorizo-chuck patty worked perfectly with the pepper jelly. The egg probably was overkill, but one can never have too much protein. The bacon always belongs. I’d recommend this burger to anyone, but as an occasional diversion—not as your everyday, slap-your-name-on-it burger.

So my quest to build my signature burger will continue. The trip to Dotson’s allowed me to make two critical decisions. When it finally is created, the AndyBurger will have bacon on it. It also will be between two pieces of Texas Toast. Everything else is negotiable. I hope to add more ingredients as I travel around the country. But who knows? I may finalize the order on my next trip to Dotson’s. It appears I do some of my best thinking under the influence of that salted caramel shake.

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HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)