Term used by Virginia Tech athletic department
staff, specifically former athletic director Dave Braine
, referring to a particular strategy
for choosing opponents in football
. (The concept
can cross over into any sport
, though, and happens plenty at other schools -- Kansas State University
football is one key example.)
When Braine took over the VT athletic department, new football coach Frank Beamer had just taken over the ruins of a program left on NCAA probation by former coach Bill Dooley. The program was still independent at the time, but Big East affiliation was coming, and at the time, it was feared that BE competition would be extremely tough for a program that was basically being rebuilt from the ground up.
To that end, Tech scheduled teams that were expected to be lousy for their non-conference schedule (aside from arch-rival University of Virginia). Teams like University of Akron, University of Cincinnati, and Arkansas State University. The idea was to get some guaranteed wins to balance out a potentially bad conference record -- and even if the team became good in-conference, those extra wins wouldn't hurt in the eyes of bowl game scouts.
Most of these games were, in fact, blowouts. The first problem was that the players fully expected them to be such, and so, occasionally, one of these teams would get up and bite the Hokies on the ass. The second problem, though, only became so when the Bowl Championship Series formula was instituted.
The BCS formula is designed to select the number 1 and 2 teams in the nation to play in the national championship bowl game, and takes into account record, polls, and strength of schedule. Scheduling for success, and the pursuant weakness of Tech's schedule, nearly screwed Tech in 1999 when, totally unexpectedly, the team went undefeated in the regular season. VT still had to sweat out Nebraska's game against Colorado, and NU's Big XII championship game against Texas, to make sure they didn't pass Tech purely on the basis of strength of schedule, even though Nebraska had lost to Texas in the regular season and VT was undefeated.
Fans generally hate scheduling for success -- instead of getting good games, there's a steady diet of ugly games and watching second-teamers beat up on no-name teams. It also makes life tough on coaches, who have to get the players ready to battle teams they think they should beat handily, and then have to tell the players that their fate for a possible national championship berth is really dependent on teams with stronger schedules losing a game and having a tough fight against another lesser foe.
VT has backed off from scheduling for success under current AD Jim Weaver, but since schedule contracts are signed as far as 10 years in advance, Weaver's policies will take some time to take effect.