By Brad Locke/NEMS Daily Journal
The Southeastern Conference has finally figured out its 2012 football schedule, but much work lies ahead for 2013 and beyond.
The league, which adds Missouri and Texas Aamp&M for the 2012-13 sports year, released next fall’s football slate on Wednesday. Each team will still play eight conference games, but there are some quirks to the schedule.
Larry Templeton, the former Mississippi State athletics director who’s now a consultant to the SEC, said 56 playing dates for SEC-SEC games had to be moved, along with 40-something non-conference dates.
The schedule was supposed to have been released last week, but Templeton said the league had to wait for some teams to work out their non-conference schedules. Arkansas, Missouri and Texas Aamp&M have yet to complete their non-SEC slates.
With seven teams in each division, and each team having a permanent cross-divisional opponent, the SEC was limited in what it could do for next year. Missouri will reside in the Eastern Division and Texas Aamp&M in the West.
“What created the difficulty was that we only had everybody’s rotating game from the other division to play with,” Templeton said. “Between that difficulty and doing the least disruptive (thing) as we possibly could to everybody’s non-conference schedule, those two together made it difficult.”
He emphasized that the 2012 schedule is “strictly a one-year solution. … There could be a lot of no-return games in the 2013 schedule.”
The league’s ADs will meet again in the spring to discuss scheduling for the next 12 seasons, and the biggest topic will be the permanent cross-divisional opponents.
Since the SEC’s last expansion in 1992, each team has played five division games and three games against teams from the opposite division, with one of those a permanent opponent.
The SEC could eliminate the permanent opponent, but that would endanger long-standing rivalries.
“If you restrict it to just changing one team out a year, it’ll be eight years before you even get through the other division,” Ole Miss AD Pete Boone said. “That’s probably the one that’s going to require the most discussion.”
Missouri and Texas Aamp&M will both make their SEC debuts Sept. 8, with the Tigers hosting Georgia and the Aggies hosting Florida. Mizzou will play its final three SEC games on the road, against Florida, Tennessee and Texas Aamp&M.
The Aggies also have a stretch of three straight SEC road games, versus Auburn, MSU and Alabama.