Texas A&M will travel to Columbia to open its season this fall, and Aggies coach Kevin Sumlin isn't exactly thrilled about it.
Sumlin stopped short of outright ripping the league's schedule makers, but he raised a question of balance when it comes to home and road games.
"Would I rather not go on the road the first game? The first year we went, what, five out of six weeks straight on the road? Hopefully in the next couple of years we'll stop being the new guy," Sumlin said at the SEC spring meetings in Destin, Fla., according to ESPN.com.
The "new guy" reference alludes to Texas A&M only being in its third year with the league. The Aggies moved from the Big 12 to the SEC along with Missouri in 2012.
Sumlin's point is rooted in fact. In 2012, Texas A&M played five road games in a six-week span, including four trips to conference opponents and three to nationally-ranked opponents. The lone home game in that stretch from Oct. 6 to No. 10 was top-10 LSU, far from a cupcake. The Aggies lost that game . and won all five road games in that stretch.
So, yes, the Aggies had an unusually rough road schedule in 2012. But Sumlin's point is also convenient. How? He fails to mention 2013.
Texas A&M opened last season with eight of its first 10 games at home. Twice, the Aggies had four-game home stands. The two road games in that stretch were at Arkansas - an abomination in 2013 - and an above average Ole Miss program. Naturally, Texas A&M won both.
One could easily make the case the Aggies had an unusually imbalanced home schedule in 2013, following 2012. What does this season look like? Well, the Aggies open with a Thursday night conference game at South Carolina, and that won't be easy. But they won't play two straight road games throughout the entire season. Every coach would like to avoid a true "road trip."
As always, these things balance out. A cluster of road games one year, a cluster of home games the next. A road game to open the fall, a few home stands to compensate.
Texas A&M, a team trying to replace three top-10 picks in this month's NFL Draft including Heisman Trophy quarterback Johnny Manziel, will face bigger problems this fall than its schedule. Not to mention, an opener against South Carolina - who many experts believe to be a fringe top-10 team - would be challenging no matter where it's played.
Sumlin is keenly aware of that, too.
"A new challenge and we better get it going pretty quick because Coach Spurrier has been pretty quiet," Sumlin said, according to ESPN.com. "That means he thinks they're pretty good. I've been around long enough to know that. He thinks they're pretty good, and they are pretty good."
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