The day that every wedding planner in the Southeast waits for is here. The SEC will release its conference football schedule for the 2017 season Tuesday night at 8:30 on the SEC Network.
It speaks to the power of football in this part of the country that so many people plan their weddings around when the home team plays a home game, but this is not just a big day for engaged couples. South Carolina’s football team is sure to have plenty of interest in the news as well.
The 2017 season will be the first in which it’s fair to judge head coach Will Muschamp and his new coaching staff. The Gamecocks’ rebuilding project is so big this year that just about any result will be written off as part of the process. Not so, next year. Next year, the Gamecocks will be expected to show real progress, and a favorable schedule will help.
Here’s what we know:
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▪ The Gamecocks will host Vanderbilt, Kentucky, Florida and Arkansas (which rotates onto the schedule from the SEC West next year) while playing at Texas A&M, Georgia, Tennessee and Missouri.
▪ The out-of-conference schedule for next season already has been set: North Carolina State in Charlotte, N.C., on Sept. 2; Louisiana Tech at home on Sept. 23; Wofford at home on Nov. 18; and Clemson at home on Nov. 25.
Here’s what I want to know: Will the conference do the Gamecocks any favors?
They didn’t this year with three road games to start the SEC season, although athletics director Ray Tanner has said South Carolina’s own out-of-conference scheduling is what precipitated that schedule. As much as Gamecocks fans might like to see the Georgia game back in its traditional early season slot, South Carolina would just as soon start the conference season with the likes of Vanderbilt and Kentucky (which will be at home this year) again.