Everything is a televised event these days, and that includes the release of the 2016 SEC football schedules at 6:30 PM ET tonight on the SEC Network. While I do think this is a missed opportunity to burn at least one week of the off-season, I'm definitely watching. Why do in a press release what you can do with ad revenue, right?
We know three dates already for the Vols' 2016 slate: the season opener September 3 vs Appalachian State, the Battle at Bristol with Virginia Tech on September 10, and an FCS date with Tennessee Tech in November 5. Tennessee will also host Ohio as its final non-conference foe.
Here are Tennessee's eight SEC foes for 2016:
- Home: Florida, Alabama, Missouri, Kentucky
- Away: Georgia, South Carolina, Vanderbilt, Texas A&M
When names and dates get matched together at 6:30, here are our three biggest questions:
- Where is the bye week? It's important, as we saw this year, to get a week off before your biggest game, and the league has been more intentional about placing these fairly. Florida and Georgia both got a week off before the Cocktail Party, as will Alabama and LSU before their big showdown next Saturday. This fall saw the Vols get a bye before Bama for the first time in five years; will we have a similar advantage next year or find it somewhere less useful?
- Where is Texas A&M? The rotating SEC West foe has been a moving target since league expansion, landing the week before Alabama in 2012 and 2014, between Florida and Georgia this year, and in mid-November in 2013. There's no such thing as an easy time against these guys in the West, but having that game in the November portion would certainly be welcome.
- Anything weird? Kentucky has moved from its usual last two weeks spot the last two years, going mid-November two years ago and now in October for the first time in any of our lifetimes. Last year the Gators and Dawgs flipped as our first two SEC contests. I'd still assume more things are sacred than not with SEC schedules, but the league has slowly loosened some of these traditions the last few years.
By the way, here's the nightmare scenario:
- 9/3 Appalachian State
- 9/10 vs Virginia Tech (Bristol)
- 9/17 Ohio
- 9/24 Florida
- 10/1 at Georgia
- 10/8 at Texas A&M
- 10/15 at Alabama
- 10/22 bye week
It would mean putting Alabama back on the Third Saturday in October for the first time in forever, but what are clearly the season's four biggest games need to not fall on four (or hopefully even five) consecutive Saturdays.
We'll be following along live at 6:30 PM ET tonight - join us in the comments below.