Wednesday, October 15, 2008

2009 schedule out and about

Read 'em and weep:

Sept. 26: BALL STATE
Oct. 3: at Tennessee
Oct. 10: at Arkansas
Oct. 24 at Louisiana State
Oct. 31: OLE MISS
Nov. 7: FURMAN (Homecoming)
Nov. 14: at Georgia
Nov. 21: Open date
Nov. 28: ALABAMA

Actually, though, you can skip the weeping if you like. Because for it being one of the "LSU and Georgia on the road" years, this ain't bad.

True, it's not as cushy as this year's slate, which when all is said and done will likely be Auburn's easiest since 2004 no matter what the Tigers' record suggests. (Hey, there's a reason to weep. Hard to write an Auburn post without running into at least one of those these days.) But with Tennessee 99 percent likely to be breaking in a new coach, Arkansas hopefully not quite yet in SEC West contender mode, and West Virginia newly Pat White-less and potentially on a new coach of their own, it's not out of question that even an Auburn that doesn't rebound fully from the 2008 quagmire could start a brisk 7-0.

The reasons for optimism don't even stop there. Given how precious little Vandy's losing off of this year's team, swapping them out for a post-Woodson Kentucky is a happy break; Tennessee and Kentucky will likely be projected as the two bottom teams in the SEC East, just as they currently stand this year. Obviously, the inevitable growing pains associated with the installation of yet anther new offense should be easier with four home games to start the year, none of them likely top-25 teams at that stage of the season. And I don't think it's a particularly thin limb I'm crawling out on by saying that even if LSU and Georgia are on the road, the single toughest on-paper game of the 2009 season--the Iron Bowl--will be at home. All together, it's as soft as Auburn could reasonably ask for and miles removed from the 2007 "road trips to Florida, Arkansas, LSU, and Georgia" gauntlet.

Of course, it's not all sunshine and licorice whips:

--Seeing as how the powers-that-be probably scheduled Ball St. by tossing every MAC team with an open date into a hat, it's a little unfortunate the team they happened to pull out is the conference's best by what looks like light-years. I don't have to tell you that this is a no-win situation for us, and I propose we all start contacting our local pundits now to ask them to vote YES on "Ball State will upset Auburn in 2009." If the drumbeat starts now, maybe Auburn will take this game as seriously as it needs to be taken and we can avert what would be a senseless tragedy. For Auburn.

--Yeah, as much as I like having the bye the Saturday before the Iron Bowl, I'm not so keen on playing 10 games in 10 weeks. Welcoming a coach who's had as much success in Jordan-Hare as Houston Nutt has just seven days after a trip to Baton Rouge looks particularly daunting.

--Speaking of which, yes, there's that trip to Baton Rouge. I don't know if you've noticed, but it's been a while since that's worked out well for Auburn. And as much success as the Tigers have had in Athens over the years, I still think their chances of breaking what currently looks like a three-game losing streak in the series would be better in the friendly confines of Jordan-Hare.

But all-in-all? Yeah, I can live with this. This schedule represents an opportunity, a chance for Auburn to start over with good ol'-fashioned home cooking and build some momentum towards retaking their role as one of the SEC's toughest outs late in the year. But of course, this year was an even greater opportunity, schedule-wise--LSU, Arkansas, and Tennessee all down, Ole Miss still on their way up, no Florida, well-timed bye weeks--and you see what Auburn's managed to do with it.

1 comment:

jrsuicide said...