Texas A&M Dropping Oregon and USC Would Be More Evidence of 9-Game SEC Schedule
Another one bites the dust. Or, in this case, maybe "two."
Texas A&M's transition to the SEC had plenty of moving parts, including a shift in philosophy in out-of-conference scheduling. Series' with USC (2015 and 2016) and Oregon (2018 and 2019) could become victims of A&M's shift.
According to the Houston Chronicle, those two matchups remain very questionable.
"Having switched from the Big 12 to the SEC, we've had to scrub our whole schedule - throw it almost out," Texas A&M athletic director Eric Hyman said. "Going forward, we've had conversations with people, but we really can't be contractually (obligated) until the conference says you've got the green light."
That's news to Oregon, apparently.
According to Senior Associate Athletic Director Craig Pintens, the Ducks haven't heard anything from the Aggies about their series.
We have not been contacted by Texas A&M regarding our scheduled football series.#GoDucks— Craig Pintens (@UOPintens) May 31, 2013
Hyman clarified himself on Friday through Brent Zwerneman of the Houston Chronicle.
A&M AD Eric Hyman said he misspoke on Thurs about Oregon: Ducks are still on football sked for 18 and 19 (1st Eugene then Aggieland).— Brent Zwerneman (@BrentZwerneman) May 31, 2013
So as of now, that game is on, but that's tenuous at best.
While Hyman stated that USC was off the schedule, the deal between the Trojans and Aggies was never actually finalized according to FBSchedules.com.
As much fun as an Oregon versus Texas A&M matchup would be and still might be, it's cancellation—if it happens—wouldn't be all A&M's fault. The SEC intends to produce its conference schedule first and then allow programs to fit out-of-conference games in around it moving forward.
“That’s going to change, and that’s why these few years are sort of steps towards the point where we’re going to do the conference schedule and then fill in with the non-conference schedule," SEC commissioner Mike Slive told the Columbus (Ga.) Ledger-Inquirer at SEC spring meetings.
But could there be more to it?
Hyman said that he'll dig deeper into the future schedule "when we [A&M] know what we've got and we know where the holes are and what we have to work with."
It certainly sounds like the future is blurry.
The possibility of the SEC moving to a nine-game conference schedule has been a hot topic this week in Destin, Fla., and the removal of those two series' from A&M's schedule could be a sign of what's to come.
The coaches voted 13-1 to keep the eight-game schedule, with the majority of the conference's athletic directors voting in the same fashion.
While the conference's desire to produce its schedule first makes sense, it's unlikely that it would have an impact on previously scheduled out-of-conference matchups. The more likely scenario is that Texas A&M recognizes that a nine-game conference schedule is likely and is planning its future accordingly.
Why would Texas A&M cancel series' with USC and Oregon?
If a nine-game schedule does come to fruition, SEC programs will approach scheduling in different ways. Alabama and LSU already have taken steps to indicate that they will schedule at least one quality out-of-conference game in the future; while Georgia, Florida, Kentucky and South Carolina will be less likely to do so due to intra-state rivalry games with out-of-conference opponents.
Texas A&M isn't part of the latter group now, but could be in the future.
Could the cancellation of the Oregon and USC series' pave the way for the return of the Texas game? We'll see.
For now, Texas A&M—and really the SEC as a whole—finds itself in a scheduling holding pattern. Unfortunately, it has cost fans two quality home-and-home series' with Pac-12 foes.
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