Christa Turner of the Columbus (Ga.) Ledger-Enquirer wrote an interesting article this morning about the struggles of the Auburn Athletic Department in its search for two more opponents for the 2007 football season. I can't remember a time when Auburn had two openings on its upcoming schedule this close to the season (kickoff is less than nine months away).
If you haven't had a chance to look ahead to next year's home schedule believe me, it's ugly. In fact, I'm not sure it has ever been more ugly. How's this for a home schedule: South Florida, New Mexico State, Vanderbilt, Mississippi, Mississippi State and Alabama. You better hurry, that line is getting longer by the hour at Tigers Unlimited. .
The question is, how much money are Auburn fans willing to pay to have a ticket to one marque game? Sure, your lower level patrons will renew because they have priority seating to protect. But what about those in the end zones and upper decks? Are they going to make a $900 donation to Tigers Unlimited and then buy season tickets, when they know they can be had for half price outside the stadium?
Auburn is still looking for two more home opponents. Their hope is to land another school like Washington State for the opener and then a homecoming type opponent for its November date. Will Auburn sell out its season packages to fans who are willing to pay the freight for an Alabama ticket? I'm not sure. It wouldn't shock me. I hope they can.
You can't blame Auburn officials. Their yearly SEC schedule is terrible. It's feast or famine at Jordan-Hare Stadium. In even number years, you get LSU, Arkansas and Georgia at home. In odd number years you are blessed with Mississippi, Mississippi State and Alabama on the Plains.
Not only is this bad for ticket sales, it's bad for your team. Going to LSU, Arkansas and Georgia every other year can wipe out your chances of getting to Atlanta at the end of the season. Add that to the rotating schedule that brings Florida, Tennessee and South Carolina on the schedule every few years and you pretty much take yourself out of contention during odd number years. At best, you start way behind the eight ball.
Let's hope that Auburn can come up with a solid opener that will get people excited. Because after that, it's all down hill until the Alabama game.