I got a question on Quora yesterday which proposed that Power 5 teams be banned from scheduling easy nonconference games in November. My response was that, if you’re gonna play cupcakes at all, what difference does it make when you play them? And conversely, playing NC games late means you’re playing conference games earlier so there are better games in the first month of the season. (And how are you going to enforce such a ban anyway?)
The conference can step in and give teams a window for when they can schedule non-conference games. I think the Big 12 does that.
The SEC has turned a blind eye to it. Urban Meyer at Florida made it popular to schedule an easy game the weekend before rivalry week, and now a lot of the teams do it. Even Arkansas has that type of game on the schedule for 2023 (FIU) and 2024 (Louisiana Tech).
It is hard to find a reliable cupcake these days. What may have appeared to be a cupcake when you scheduled them 5 or 6 years ago, can turn into Waffle House steak by the time you play them. I would prefer to ease into a schedule with all of my NC games up front. That little glass of Lynchburg Lemonade turned into hemlock for us. But to answer your question, no, the conference offices and NCAA should not be dictating when you can play NC ganes.
Big12 schedules require that the last nine weeks of the season are dedicated to Big12 games. When UGA, Florida, Kentucky, and South Carolina all play OOC rivalry games over Thanksgiving you have to create November flexibility. How the other 8 teams execute that is up to them.
The flip side of that: you are at a G5 school and looking to schedule a payday game with Arkansas. Do you want to risk being beaten up, abused, and completely knocked out of sync, schedule them in November. Early in the season you can adjust, heal, and peak, in-conference, later in the season. If “Arkansas” make that consideration tough, substitute “Alabama.”