You'll notice from the headline to this story, that I am about to write about Florida's schedule.
Specifically, the non-conference schedule. After all, there really is nothing the Gators can do about having both LSU and Alabama to prepare for while Georgia misses both (and Arkansas). Those things are beyond UF's control.
However, the games that aren't against Southeastern Conference foes are all about the Gators.
Now, before getting into a few comparisons with other SEC schools, note that Florida plays Florida State every year. I have read many people ripping into UF's for its non-conference schedules who act like that contest doesn't exist.
It does, and when presenting an argument, it's only fair to make that very clear.
South Carolina (Clemson) and Georgia (Georgia Tech) will be afforded the same clarity, even though one could correctly point out that facing the Yellow Jackets every year for the most part hardly compares to taking on the Seminoles, but that's the matchup each state has to offer.
The Bulldogs can't be penalized for that (plus, they get bonus points for playing Boise State this past season).
So, let's look past the "rivalry games" that aren't a part of the conference schedule.
First, we'll check out what the Gators have planned.
In 2012, UF's non-conference schedule is made up of Bowling Green, Louisiana-Lafayette, Jacksonville (Ala.) State and a game at FSU. There's a bump up in competition in 2013 because in addition to visits from Toledo, Georgia Southern and the Seminoles, UF will visit Miami.
The next year will see Florida host Idaho, Eastern Michigan, Eastern Kentucky (where Muschamp was an assistant in 1999—he said he learned a lot there under legendary coach Roy Kidd) and travel to FSU.
Beyond that, schedules are incomplete, but the Gators have signed contracts with New Mexico State and Florida Atlantic for 2015, North Texas and Massachusetts in 2016 and South Florida at a to-be-determined date.
Let's now look at what some other traditional SEC powers have planned for the future.
Alabama: Michigan in Cowboys Stadium (2012) and Virginia Tech in the Georgia Dome (2013). The Crimson Tide also are scheduled to open the 2014 season in the Georgia Dome against an opponent to be determined.
Other upcoming contests include Western Kentucky, FAU (also in 2014) and Western Carolina next year, and Chattanooga in 2013.
Louisiana State: The Tigers, who played both Oregon and West Virginia away from home in 2011, will host North Texas, Idaho, Washington and Towson next year.
But then, it gets fun.
LSU begins a home-and-home with Texas Christian in 2013. They'll also play home-and-homes with Arizona State (2015 and 2016), North Carolina State (2017 and 2020) and Oklahoma (2018 and 2019).
Along the way, there also are games scheduled with Alabama-Birmingham and Furman (2013—kind of like UF in 2011), Georgia Southern (2014), Jacksonville State and Eastern Michigan (2015), as well as Western Kentucky and South Alabama (2016).
Georgia: In addition to the Yellow Jackets each year, the Bulldogs will play a home-and-home with Clemson (2013 and 2014).
Beyond that, it's pretty mundane, featuring home games against Buffalo, FAU and Georgia Southern (2012), North Texas and Appalachian State (2013), South Alabama and Charleston Southern (2014) and Southern and Louisiana-Monroe (2015).
South Carolina: In addition to its annual clash with Clemson, the Gamecocks have gone somewhat big, but not overly large, by scheduling North Carolina (2013) and Georgia Tech (2021 and 2022). East Carolina also will get South Carolina a few times (2012, 2014-16) with the 2014 game being held in Charlotte and the 2015 contest at ECU.
The Gamecocks also will play a home-and-home with Central Florida in 2013 and 2015 with the first of those meetings being in Orlando.
Other games include UAB and Wofford (2012), South Carolina State (2013), Furman and Troy (2014) and The Citadel (2015).
Auburn: The Tigers have one relatively intriguing non-conference game in each of the next three seasons.
They'll play Clemson at the Georgia Dome next year, Washington State (maybe Mike Leach can turn things around) in 2013 and at Kansas State in 2014.
Aside from that, Auburn will host Alabama A&M, New Mexico State and ULM in 2012, as well as Jacksonville State in 2013.
A couple of other SEC schools are worth taking a look at because of how aggressive they are scheduling in addition to playing the usual-suspect payday foes.
Mississippi: The Rebels will play a home-and-home with Texas (2012 and 2013), will face Boise State in the Georgia Dome (2014), will play a home-and-home with Clemson (2015 and 2016) and a home-and-home with Georgia Tech (2017 and 2018).
Tennessee: The Volunteers will face N.C. State in Atlanta next season, will visit Oregon in 2013, will play a home-and-home with Oklahoma (2014 and 2015), will play a home-and-home with Nebraska in 2016 and 2017 and will meet Southern California in a home-and-home (2021 and 2022).
Tennessee even scheduled a home-and-home with rising Connecticut (2015 and 2016), and even some of their easier games (Troy, Southern Miss and Memphis) are against teams that have found themselves in bowls recently.
Texas A&M: One of two conference newbies, the Aggies will play home-and-homes with USC (2015 and 2016) and Oregon (2017 and 2018) in a few not-too-distant Saturdays.
One other non-conference game of note will see up-and-coming Vanderbilt visit Urban Meyer and Ohio State in 2013 (keeping a Big Ten theme alive, the Commodores also will welcome in Northwestern that season).
So, seeing all of that, how do you feel now about the Gators' scheduling?
One factor to consider when studying all of this is that when a major power agrees to a home-and-home series, instead of paying out a large sum to college football's equivalent of a professional wrestling jobber, is that the big school leaves a lot of money on the table by losing a home game.
And as much as we'd all like to think of college football as a game, it's also a business, and other sports programs often are subsidized by the money brought in by football.
That doesn't mean it wouldn't be fun to see Oregon, USC, Oklahoma State, Michigan, Boise State or Clemson on a future schedule or two, but does explain why you probably won't.
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