Thursday, December 29, 2011
East gets a pass with 2012 schedule
By ESPN.com staff
Is it just me, or was the SEC trying to do the Eastern Division a serious solid next season with the 2012 schedule?
We’ve all heard the “Least of the East” jokes and how the Eastern Division champion’s “punishment” is having to face the Western Division champion in the SEC championship game.
That’s just the way it is when one division dominates the way the West has the past couple of years.
The East managed six victories this season against West foes, and three of those wins came against Ole Miss, which has lost 14 straight SEC games.
A year ago, the East won just three times against West opponents.
But in 2012, the East is going to get what should be a huge break.
Not a single team in the East has to play both Alabama and LSU next season, and only one East team, South Carolina, has to play two of the Big Three in the West. The Gamecocks play at LSU on Oct. 13 and face Arkansas at home on Nov. 10.
Somebody in the SEC office must really like Georgia and Vanderbilt, because they both avoid Alabama, Arkansas and LSU next season.
It will mark the second straight regular season that the Bulldogs haven’t had to play Alabama, Arkansas or LSU, who among them are 8-1 against the East over the last two regular seasons.
Prior to the 2012 schedule being tweaked to add Missouri and Texas A&M to the mix, Georgia was supposed to visit Alabama. But that game was dropped, and the Bulldogs’ two West opponents next season are Ole Miss at home and Auburn on the road.
Vanderbilt’s road game next season against a West opponent is Ole Miss on Nov. 10.
South Carolina was dealt the toughest hand in the East.
The Gamecocks originally had Mississippi State coming to Columbia under the old schedule. But, now, Mississippi State comes off, and South Carolina travels to LSU in 2012.
South Carolina and Missouri are the only East teams that have three SEC away games in a four-week span.
The Gamecocks play at Kentucky on Sept. 29, at LSU on Oct. 13 and at Florida on Oct. 20. It doesn’t help that the only home game in that stretch is against Georgia on Oct. 6.
The Tigers close their initial SEC slate by playing at Florida on Nov. 3, at Tennessee on Nov. 10 and at Texas A&M on Nov. 24.