Vols’ 2012 football schedule offers a measure of hope
The 2012 schedule for the Vols was announced today. We already knew who the opponents were going to be. It was only the dates that was keeping us in suspense to the point of frustration after the SEC didn’t followup on its original promise of schedules being made public before Christmas.
Let’s break it down.
There are eight conference games — five against the traditional SEC East schools (Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, Vanderbilt, and Kentucky), one against the new member of the SEC East (Missouri), and two against SEC West schools (Alabama and Mississippi State). That leaves four non-conference foes (NC State, Georgia State, Akron, and Troy).
There will be seven games played at Neyland Stadium (Georgia State, Florida, Akron, Bama, Troy, Mizzou, and Kentucky), one at a neutral site (NC State in Atlanta), and four away games (Georgia, Mississippi State, South Carolina, and Vandy). One bye week — between road games at Georgia and Mississippi State — gives Tennessee a rest at a good time (after five games instead of earlier or later).
There really isn’t anything unusual here, beyond the obvious neutral field opener against NC State on September 1. However, there are some advantages. There will be no away games played on consecutive weeks — the open date separates visits to Athens and Starkville. Also, the first road game (apart from the neutral site opener) isn’t until the last weekend of September (at Georgia), and November offers three home games compared with only two in 2011. And, even though the Mississippi State game will be on the road, Alabama and the Bulldogs are better than last year’s SEC west foes of Bama, Arkansas, and LSU.
It all adds up to a decent chance for Dooley and his third Vols team to make some significant progress over the last two seasons. Considering all aspects of what we can see eight months into the future, a seven win regular season will be the minimum acceptable to the vast majority of the Vol Fans, yours truly included. Anything less will turn the temperature of Dooley’s hot seat to unbearable levels. Anything more will be greeted with audible sighs of relief.