In 2006, we were stuck with a tough combination of a bad home schedule and painfully early kickoffs. Some of that due to bad luck (see: Colorado's implosion) and some due to the SEC's divisional rotation. With that in mind, I put together some early thoughts on possible game times for next year. (See also: Georgia's 2007 Schedule) I can't help it....I'm already thinking about next year's tailgates.
Sept. 1: Oklahoma State (Home)
ESPN brokered the deal between the two schools, and there is only one other quality SEC game that day. The UT at Cal game on the same day will be televised by the Pac-10's TV contract. Expect an ABC 3:30 or 8:00 kickoff for them, and GT at Notre Dame will be on NBC. Our game is a near lock for ESPN or ESPN2 at night in a match-up of two likely Top 20 teams.
Sept 8: South Carolina (Home)
Spurrier's crew comes back to Athens. Traditionally, CBS doesn't begin its television contract with the SEC until the US Open Ends (Aug. 27-Sept. 9th 2007). LSU hosts Virginia Tech on the 8th in a likely ESPN Primetime slot. Our game is the second best SEC game of the day, and it would be a great fit for an ESPN2 game. I'm thinking a kickoff around 5:00-8:00 pm.
Sept. 15: Western Carolina (Home)
Obviously, no network TV for this Div I-AA game. Possible Pay Per View coverage. A jobber/payout game like this is perfectly scheduled before our first road game in Tuscaloosa. Near lock for a 1:00 pm start.
Sept. 22: Alabama (Away)
The only other interesting SEC game on the 22nd is South Carolina at LSU. Pencil this one in for CBS at 3:30; although, a night game is possible. Hopefully, it won't be as hot as our last trip which was 6 billion degrees Kelvin.
Sept. 29: Ole Miss (Home)
This game screams LF Sports at 12:30 pm. Bama plays FSU in Jacksonville and Florida hosts Auburn on the same day. The only way this game ends up on CBS is if they use a double header this weekend, and we end up as the noon CBS game. Either way, it looks like an early start.
Oct. 6: Tennessee (Away)
The kickoff times start to get much more difficult to project at this point. The other big SEC game of the day is Florida at LSU. We'll either be at 3:30 on CBS or a night game. Either way, the crowd will be plenty liquored up and loud in Knoxvegas.
Oct. 13: Vanderbilt (Away)
Auburn at Arkansas is the big game of the week. The rest of the SEC's power teams are playing the bottom half of the league. Given the lack of quality match-ups, I have no earthly idea when this will air. My default expectation for the Vandy game is 12:30 on LF Sports. South Carolina plays UNC on this weekend, but it's at Chapel Hill so it's on the ACC's TV contract.
Oct. 20: BYE WEEK
The long awaited off week before we play the Gators. Even better, the Gators have a game against UK that week! The big SEC TV games this week will be Auburn at LSU and UT at Bama.
Oct. 27: Florida (Jacksonville)
The World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party. UT vs. South Carolina is the only other interesting game of the day. This game has filled the CBS 3:30 slot all but once in the past 10+ years (2002 at night on ESPN). CBS usually locks this game up before the season starts.
Nov. 3: Troy (Home)
ESPN Primetime. KIDDING. LSU hosts Alabama and Arkansas hosts South Carolina. This is almost definitely a non-TV game at 1:00 pm. Note: This will be our first home game since Sept. 29th vs. Ole Miss.
Nov. 10: Auburn (Home)
As I mentioned a few weeks ago, the SEC has taken steps to make sure a quality game like this doesn't air at 11:30 CST in the future. As part of that reshuffling, this game will likely end up at 3:30 on CBS or an ESPN night game. It won't end up on LF Sports again.
Nov. 17: UK (Home)
Shockingly, this could be the best SEC game of the week. Last year, the SEC mandated that all the teams in the league had to play on Thanksgiving Weekend. Traditionally, Alabama and Auburn met the week before so that the winner of their game had a bye week before the SEC title game. In the reshuffling, this ended up being a weak TV weekend. LSU vs. Ole Miss is the only other good game of the day. Again no idea when this game airs. However, the University of Georgia has historically only supported one or two night games per year at home. If the first two games are at night, I could see Adams and the UGA police department working to make sure this one isn't a late start.
Nov. 24: GT (Away)
This game will be broadcast as part of Georgia Tech's ABC contract. Expect a 12:00 or 3:30 start on ABC. Usually, this one airs at 3:30 pm.
Quick tailgate guide to home games might look like this:
Oklahoma State (Home) - Night Game
South Carolina (Home) - Night Game
Western Carolina (Home) - 1:00 pm
Ole Miss - 12:30 pm
Troy - 1:00 pm
Auburn - 3:30 pm or 7:45 pm
Kentucky - No idea.
If the schedule were to break like that, it would present a nice mix of kickoff times to please and piss off everyone. Some night games, some late afternoon starts and a few early as hell kickoffs sure to please little old ladies and Mike Adams.
The Road Games:
Bama - 3:30 pm or 7:45 pm
Tennessee - 3:30 or 7:45 pm
Vandy - 12:30 pm (LF Sports)
UF - 3:30 pm (CBS)
GT - 3:30 pm (ABC)
All of these start times are my best guess as of today. I don't warranty them. Book hotel rooms at your own risk. Agree? Disagree?
UPDATE: This discussion was continued on the DawgRun message board as JimFromDuluth offered some other insights. You should check it out.