With athletic competition at the service academics suspended in the wake of the partial governmental shutdown, Fresno State may gain a few more options when it comes to replacing its game at Colorado, which was postponed due to historic flooding last month in and around Boulder.
But given logistical difficulties getting a game scheduled and played on short notice, not to mention a 12th game is unlikely to have any bearing on the Bulldogs place in the final BCS standings, it is becoming more and more difficult to find a game that will work.
"It really comes down to a financial formula," Athletic Director Thomas Boeh said. "There are not many schools at this point that are willing to host a game because they cannot generate the kind of revenue in the short term they would need to pay a guarantee and pay the expenses of the game, and we're in the same situation. If we put a pencil to it, without any tickets being in the season-ticket package and having to start from scratch, it would be very difficult to generate the kind of income we would need to cover guaranteed expenses."
Duke, which is scheduled to host Navy on Oct. 12 when the Bulldogs have a bye, could be looking to fill a hole in their schedule and there have been very informal discussion between the schools.
But to play that game would mean Fresno State would play at Hawaii, at Idaho and at Duke in consecutive weeks, traveling more than 10,000 air miles. The Bulldogs also have not played three consecutive road games without a bye week since 1999 when they played September games at Oregon State, at UCLA and at Nevada.
The travel there obviously was much less daunting, all three games in the same time zone.
"That would be an awfully tough run," Boeh said. "I don't think there's any reason right now to try to disadvantage this team. We've tried not to do that. We're already in a spot where we're going to be away from home with the two road games and the bye, we're away from Bulldog Stadium for a long time and I think that would possibly just exacerbate that."
Air Force, which is losing its game at Navy on Saturday due to the shutdown, has a bye on Nov. 16 along with Fresno State. But Boeh said there has been no discussion about playing the Mountain West program as a nonconference opponent.
Cal in 2011 had a game against Colorado as part of a home-and-home series that started before the Buffaloes became a member of the Pac-12, and they ended up playing a nonconference game.
"We haven't talked about that option in this instance, but at the same time, we've talked about it in the past, especially when there are conference membership changes and some schools had nonconference games already scheduled with what became conference opponents," Boeh said.
"We saw a little bit of that recently and it's very confusing, especially when you have something on the line like a championship game. It kind of confuses that issue, so it's generally something we try to avoid because I think we would rather keep the integrity of the championship game together. And, depending how long the shutdown goes, there certainly are going to be challenges at the Mountain West Conference on how to adjust the Mountain Division if there are games lost."
If the Bulldogs do not find a replacement game, the athletic department budget would take a hit with the lost revenue from the $250,000 guarantee from the postponed game at Colorado, plus expenses that could not be recovered. Right now, the net loss is roughly $172,000, some of which could be made up with greater attendance at the Bulldogs final home games against UNLV, Nevada and New Mexico.
The Buffaloes, unable to work out a make up date with Fresno State, have scheduled a game with Charleston Southern on Oct. 19 as a replacement.
"We'll keep looking for opportunities, but often times you're talking about moving dates and folks aren't going to move dates because of a should-have, would-have, could-have thing," Boeh said. "We'll stay on it, but every day that goes by it looks more and more difficult. Hopefully, if we continue to win and we're fortunate to win our division, we'll get our 12th game in the (Mountain West) championship.
"That might be our best hope for a 12th game this year. We don't control all of that, but we certainly have the opportunity to earn that."