A Look at the Cajuns’ 2012 Football Schedule – From the Bird’s Nest
Louisiana released its 2012 football schedule yesterday.
We've known for a while now who the opponents were going to be. But we didn't know the order or anything else in conjunction with the schedule.
But now we do, and there's a lot more good than bad about the schedule......let's break it down and get the bad stuff out of the way first.
THE BAD NEWS
1. HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS--Do you know why Louisiana played at Arizona in the last game of the season last year? It was actually by design. The reality of the situation in our league is the home game on Thanksgiving weekend is the least attended of the season. And, then-athletic director David Walker instructed Scott Farmer to insure the Cajuns would be gone on that weekend. No school particularly likes playing at home on this holiday weekend. In the case of the Cajuns in 2012, not only do the Cajuns play at home the weekend of Turkey Day, they'll play a team they've never met on the gridiron. None of that bodes well for building on last year's attendance figures.
2. BASKETBALL TAKES A HIT--As it is, there's usually a three week overlap between the two marquee sports in college athletics. This year, there will be four weeks. The Cajuns have two open dates this year and that means the roundballers will have been playing for nearly a month by the time football ends. Fans are already largely ignoring this sport. If Bob Marlin's squad gets off to a good start, will anyone notice??
3. WHERE ARE THE BLUE RAIDERS?--With South Alabama joining the league for football this year and a nine game conference schedule not starting until 2015, the Cajuns will not play a familiar conference foe each of the next three seasons. This year, it's Middle Tennessee, who would have come to Cajun Field this year. The games with the Blue Raiders are usually pretty exciting and fans of the two schools like to tailgate together. Besides, they were 2-10 last year.
THE GOOD NEWS
A BALANCED SCHEDULE--And, it's about time. The Cajuns' schedule was front-loaded with home games, which last year might have been a good thing, considering this team needed early wins to build confidence. But it also meant five of the last six games were away from home. This year, there is much more balance to the schedule. There is no time where the Cajuns play more than two straight weeks at home or on the road. They play three of their first six at home and three of their last six at home. Nice.
TULANE AND LAMAR--The two non-conference home opponents are schools two hours east and two hours west. Neither has a particularly great fan base, but the bottom line is there's a chance for much better visiting crowds than the Cajuns had anytime last year. While Lamar won't mean much to the younger fans, those who have been around awhile remember when the two teams used to meet fairly regularly. And, it's rare that Tulane makes a Cajun Field appearance. That in itself makes that game an event.
TWO OPEN DATES--It may not be good for basketball, but after playing eleven straight games last year, the team will be happy to have a week off after game three, and another week off after game seven. Nicely spaced.
EE-ESS-PEE-EN--Before the Cajuns played in the R&L Carriers New Orleans Bowl, coach Mark Hudspeth put it simply: "You can't buy the kind of exposure our program is going to get." Well, that exposure, and the Cajuns' performance, leads to more exposure. While there will be five Sun Belt games on ESPNU and many more on ESPN3, the Sun Belt only gets two games on the motherships. And, this year, the Cajuns are getting both of them. And, they're on a Tuesday night. No other college football. No pro football. No high school football. Just the Cajuns. Anyone who whines about not having time to tailgate or is worried about a diminished crowd for the Arkansas State game doesn't see the big picture here.
COME ON OVER TO MY HOUSE--This year, the conference schedule works in the Cajuns' favor. The other three teams who had winning records last season are all coming to Cajun Field this year. Under Hudspeth, winning at Cajun Field is a top priority. Playing all three on the road last year was the main reason the Cajuns weren't league champions.
FLORIDA IN NOVEMBER--The Cajuns will be an underdog when they travel to Gainesville on November 10th. But more often than not, when a Sun Belt team upsets one of the big boys, they're catching them at the right time. This game will come during the Gators' SEC schedule. It won't be a priority for them, for sure. And, if the Cajuns don't pull the upset, they'll have a million reasons to feel okay after the game. Or, at least Scott Farmer will.
Is this the perfect schedule? No. But I can't remember a schedule that has this much good news, maybe ever. Cajun fans should be really excited about how this is all put together.
Even playing on Tuesday night.
Pssst. You have plenty of notice. Put in for a vacation day on October 23rd.