After a painfully delayed and embarrassingly long and drawn out episode of whatever the daily sportscenter show on the SEC Network is called, LSU finally released the full 2015 football schedule.
Sept. 5 - McNEESE STATE
Sept. 12 - at Mississippi State
Sept. 19 - AUBURN
Sept. 26 - at Syracuse
Oct. 3 - EASTERN MICHIGAN
Oct. 10 - at South Carolina
Oct. 17 - FLORIDA
Oct. 24 - WESTERN KENTUCKY
Oct. 31 - Open date
Nov. 7 - at Alabama
Nov. 14 - ARKANSAS
Nov. 21 - at Ole Miss
Nov. 28 - TEXAS A&M
A couple things stand out immediately, the first being the return to a single BYE week. LSU's current strategy with bye weeks has been to prioritize Bama preparation, and once again LSU is taking that week off*. While that is important, you'll notice that it basically splits the schedule cleanly into 2 halves, part 1 being a mostly balanced collection of our atrocious OOC slate, our SEC East pairings, and the usual early State and Auburn games, while part 2 will be spent in the Division 1 Group of Death that is the SEC West**.
The next thing you'll notice is just how amazingly awful the OOC slate is. Cuse on the road is worth minimal street cred. EMU genuinely might be the worst FBS football program of the last decade. WKU left the Sun Belt to become a void filler in the current walking dead CUSA. Hell, McNeese might be coming off an FCS Championship run and be the toughest team of this lot.
How did we get here? We may never know the truth, as football scheduling is a complicated form of magic, but here's my crazy theory. With all of the big brand Kickoff Classics occupied, LSU wanted to finally pay off the outstanding debt of a home game owed to Tulane in the Superdome. There were multiple reports of negotiations about this very thing last spring. The problem is that the Greenies have a new home now and the last thing they want to do is (short of a bowl game) ever play in that cavernous expanse again. Tulane offered to play the game at their new digs, LSU refused, and the Greenies moved on, because, lets face it, there are plenty of P5 teams who'd like a trip to New Orleans for their players and fans. So LSU got left with a hole to fill and less than a year to work with. WKU was able to move up their previously scheduled game to this season and McNeese answered the call for a cheap home opener. This kinda thing is going to keep happening as long as LSU refuses to schedule true home-and-homes with P5 teams. There are only so many Kickoff Classics to go around, and LSU will more often than not be without any options for a good P5 opponent on the docket over the next decade. Once the current deals with Wisconsin and Syracuse run out, there is little planned out. Agreed upon home-and-homes with NC State and Oklahoma, deals that were setup ages ago for games that would have happened in the next 5 years, have been canceled. The next planed OOC series is a home-and-home with UCLA, but that doesn't start until the 2020s.
Back to present day. Aside from the well balanced home/away alternation returning (anyone who spent all of September tailgating will agree with me when I say 4 home games in a row may be too much) a few folks have cheered the A&M game being listed for a Saturday instead of the the SEC's traditional screw job of offering us up to CBS for their Black Friday nonsense. This is unfortunately false hope, I'm afraid. CBS will wait, as it has done for more than a decade now, until mid summer to announce that LSU's Thanksgiving weekend game has been selected once again for Friday duty.
Not much else to say, really. The SEC has once again missed at a chance to have LSU and Ole Miss play on Halloween night. Around the league, there will be a few conference games on Thursday nights towards the middle of the season, with Auburn at Kentucky and Mississippi State at Missouri. For some reason Vandy will be playing AT Middle Tennessee. Texas A&M won't leave the state of Texas until Week 8.
Thoughts? Feelings? Are we yet again being screwed over by BIRMINGHAM? Sound off below.
*It should be noted that Bama is also taking that week off, and the Tide will be facing 3 SEC teams coming off a bye next season. Like the Bama-UT rivalry, their fans will be spending the summer telling you about how this barely relevant piece of minutiae is the most important thing about the SEC schedule.
**I made a soccer joke. Dear God this has been a hard season.