NOTEBOOK: Austin Peay added to 2012 WKU football schedule

Jonathan Lintner

President Gary Ransdell told the Herald this week he expects to tone down WKU’s future football schedules and add “maybe one 1-AA team a year” to help secure some easier wins.

That movement should start in 2012, as Ransdell mentioned that Austin Peay — an Ohio Valley Conference member — will be on the schedule. The Toppers already have non-conference games against Alabama, Kentucky and Hawaii on the 2012 slate. The Hawaii game allows for a 13th contest to be scheduled.

The 2011 non-conference schedule is already locked down with the addition of Lousiana State during the summer. Ransdell said the money game will be a consistent variable in scheduling beyond 2012 — they provide a boost to the program’s budget — but he hopes to soften the non-conference slate beyond that.

“There are really no easy games like there would be if we were a 1-AA,” Ransdell said. “I think our fans are starting to learn that.”

WKU already has a four-game home-and-home series set to run from 2013-2016, but Ransdell said he hopes to add another team from a smaller conference. Southern Mississippi, UAB and Memphis were teams he mentioned as possibilities.

And as it is Kentucky game week, Ransdell said he’d like to set up a series with the state’s other Football Bowl Subdivision program.

“I would love to get Louisville on the football schedule,” Ransdell said. “But it would have to be home-and-home or at a neutral site like UK’s deal.”

WKU still a spectator in conference realignment

Ransdell and Athletics Director Ross Bjork said to wait for BYU on the conference realignment front.

Well, the Cougars’ athletic department elected to go independent in football and move to the West Coast Conference in all other sports. And WKU, Ransdell said, is still waiting for more dominoes to fall.

“We’re just tracking it,” he said. “We’re just watching it.”

Ransdell said he expects the Western Athletic Conference to expand and the Big 12 to restore itself to 12 teams, which he said will “most likely affect” the current Sun Belt Conference and Conference USA.

Although he said it’s unlikely, Ransdell has a hope of what will happen when negotiations do reach the Sun Belt and Conference USA.

“What would make sense is for all the commissioners and presidents of those conferences to come together,” Ransdell said. “They could get around one board table and make a bunch of moves that would make sense.”

Toppers competing at the highest level

When it comes to the FBS, Ransdell wants to remind everyone that WKU too is counted amongst the nation’s upper echelon of college athletics — the BCS.

He said the disparity between the BCS’s automatic qualifiers and the remaining member conferences is hurting WKU’s brand.

“Sportswriters are either thick or they don’t get it or they don’t understand, but there are 120 BCS institutions in 11 conferences,” Ransdell said. “Six conferences are automatic qualifiers and the others have to earn an invite to a BCS game.

“Invariably the sportswriters talk about the six AQ conferences as if they’re the BCS conferences, and then you’ve got these other conferences wondering out there without some name.”

The misnomer goes beyond football, Ransdell said, noting that the WKU basketball schedule released this week contains games against 24 BCS conference opponents. That’s including Sun Belt member teams.

“Your athletic programs are now being classified BCS or not,” Ransdell said. “Even when you start talking about basketball or volleyball.”