Although fans of every team love to complain about the schedule, Buccaneers fans seem to have a legitimate gripe this year. If you haven’t seen the Bucs schedule yet, here’s a brief summary: They go 49 straight days without playing a home game, and during those 49 days, they’ll be traveling a total of 20,378 miles to play in away games against the Rams, Saints, Panthers (in London), Titans and Seahawks.
Not only is that bad for the team, but it’s also bad for the fans, who will have to go seven straight weeks without seeing their team play at home. The Bucs play in Tampa in Week 3 and then don’t return to Raymond James Stadium until Week 10.
Tampa got such a raw deal that Mike North, the NFL’s senior director of broadcast planning and scheduling, admitted that he would have loved “another shot” at putting their schedule together.
“If we had to do-over, if we had a redo, I’d love to take another shot at that Tampa Bay schedule,” North said on SiriusXM NFL Radio’s Late Hits. “I’m not sure that’s really fair to their fans. I’m hopeful that we didn’t do something to the Buccaneers that they feel like was really unfair.”
The Bucs’ schedule is so ugly that North also said he’s actually going to be rooting for Tampa during their six weeks away from home.
“I know we’re not allowed to root for anybody,” North said. “But I’m kind of rooting for the Buccaneers through October.”
According to NFL.com, the league went through 64,713 different versions of the schedule before they ended up settling the one that was unveiled Wednesday. The bottom line is that if one of the schedule-makers is admitting that a team got screwed over, then the league probably shouldn’t have used that schedule.
The most surprising part of all this is that the NFL has been working with researchers at the University of Buffalo to make sure that the schedule is set up more fairly. Apparently, everyone forgot to double check the Bucs’ schedule before this year’s final version was approved.
One other team will also go 49 days without playing a home game, and that’s the Raiders, but they have less of a gripe. The Raiders didn’t even know where they were going to play their home games until March 15, which means the NFL had no idea where the Raiders were going to be playing when they started the process of making the schedule. Basically, the Raiders dug their own scheduling grave.
On the other hand, any Bucs fan who’s upset with the schedule has every right to be.
New Bucs coach Bruce Arians isn’t afraid to speak his mind, so it will be interesting to see what he has to say when he’s eventually asked about the schedule.