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TUSCALOOSA ― Of all the potential changes in the new-look 2012 SEC football schedule, Alabama’s biggest change comes with when it doesn’t play.
The Crimson Tide’s bye week moved up on the calendar when the now 14-team league released its blueprint for next fall.
Instead of taking the week off the Saturday before facing LSU as it had for the last few years, Alabama’s breather comes midseason before traveling to one of the SEC newcomers. The Oct. 6 break precedes the trip to Missouri a week later.
There were a few issues with placing that week off, Alabama coach Nick Saban said.
“Well, I think if we would have had a bye week before LSU we would have gone from Oct. 6 to Nov. 10 without having a home game,” Saban said. “I think those were the choices. So under the circumstances ― and this is a difficult circumstance probably for everyone. It’s a different schedule than what we thought we were going to have.”
The addition of former Big 12 member Missouri meant losing the return game Vanderbilt. Under the old scheduling rules, the Tide would have traveled to Nashville after the Commodores came to Tuscaloosa this fall.
“This is a one-year thing,” Saban said. “I’m sure the league office did the best job that they could do, taking all the teams in our league into consideration.”
SEC commissioner Mike Slive said league officials and school administrators will sit down this spring to discuss permanent solutions to scheduling in the new 14-team league.
Alabama will see the other new addition late next season.
Texas A&M will come to Bryant-Denny Stadium on Nov. 10 to start a three-game home stand closing the season. Western Carolina visits the next week before Auburn comes to town.
The other non-conference opponents include Michigan (Sept. 1 in Dallas), Western Kentucky (Sept. 8) and Florida Atlantic (Sept. 22).
Ole Miss and Mississippi State will also play in Tuscaloosa, but the road trips will be a challenge once again.
“This is always a year that, when we have to go to Arkansas, Tennessee and LSU all in the same year, which has always been that way, that’s not any different,” Saban said. “So it’s always tough, tough road games. But every game in this league is tough on the road.”
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