South Carolina will begin its rivalry with Texas A&M and open the SEC Network along the way on Aug. 28, 2014.
The Gamecocks will play the Aggies, their new permanent crossover opponent from the SEC West, in Williams-Brice Stadium in the first game televised by the conference’s fledgling 24-hour television network, the school announced Wednesday as the SEC released its 2014 football schedule. The SEC Network will go on air on Aug. 21, 2014.
“I think it’s exciting that we get a chance to launch that network on a Thursday night,” South Carolina athletics director Ray Tanner told The State.
The game against the Aggies is one of seven home games on the 2014 schedule, including three straight to open the season.
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The Gamecocks also play East Carolina (Sept. 6), Georgia (Sept. 13), Missouri (Sept. 27), Furman (Oct. 18), Tennessee (Nov. 1) and South Alabama (Nov. 22) at home. Their five road games are against Vanderbilt (Sept. 20), Kentucky (Oct. 4), Auburn (Oct. 25), Florida (Nov. 15) and Clemson (Nov. 29).
The fact that none of those road games are back-to-back was important to South Carolina, Tanner said. The Gamecocks play three consecutive road games this season, which South Carolina talked to the SEC about adjusting at the time the 2013 schedule was being drafted, Tanner said. South Carolina later agreed to play the three straight on the road, but Tanner worked this year to make sure no similar situation arose.
“I feel like we have some great balance in our schedule (in 2014),” Tanner said. “It unfolded really nicely.”
Next season will be the second straight in which the Gamecocks avoid SEC West bullies Alabama and LSU in a regular season crossover game. South Carolina’s crossover games will come against the Aggies and Auburn, while SEC rivals Georgia (Auburn and at Arkansas) and Florida (LSU and at Alabama) each have at least one worrisome crossover game of their own.
“It worked our really good,” Tanner said. “I credit the conference. As you can imagine, with 14 schools it is difficult to put a schedule together.”
Tanner expects the SEC to continue with the 6-1-1 scheduling format (six games against division opponents, one permanent rival from the opposite division and one rotating game from the opposite division) to remain in place through 2015, he said Thursday.
Conference officials still are debating whether to stick with that format or chance to a 6-2 format (doing away with permanent crossover opponents) or add a ninth conference game.
“I am not in favor of the common opponent,” Tanner said. “I feel strongly that a student-athlete in football should have the opportunity to play every team in the league at least once every four years during his career and the only way you do that is rotate two games. We continue to have dialogue about it.”
USC's full 2014 schedule
... Aug. 28, vs Texas A&M (Thursday night)
... Sept. 6, vs East Carolina
... Sept. 13, vs Georgia
... Sept. 20, at Vanderbilt
... Sept. 27, vs Missouri
... Oct. 4, at Kentucky
... Oct. 11, bye week
... Oct. 18, vs Furman
... Oct. 25, at Auburn
... Nov. 1, vs Tennessee
... Nov. 8, bye week
... Nov. 15, at Florida
... Nov. 22, vs South Alabama
... Nov. 29, at Clemson
SEC East, at a glance
South Carolina faces Texas A&M and Auburn in 2014. A look at who the other SEC East teams play from the SEC West in 2014.
... Sept. 20, at Alabama
... Oct. 11, vs. LSU
... Oct. 18, at Arkansas
... Nov. 15, vs. Auburn
... Oct. 18, at LSU
... Oct. 25, vs. Mississippi State
... Nov. 15, at Texas A&M
... Nov. 29, vs. Arkansas
... Oct. 18, at Ole Miss
... Oct. 25, vs. Alabama
... Sept. 6, vs. Ole Miss
... Nov. 22, at Mississippi State