Report: State Replaces Tulane With UMass Trip

In last week’s interview with Dawgs’ Bite, Scott Stricklin said he expected to have the gap in Mississippi State’s 2016 schedule filled “fairly shortly”. Four days later the deal has been all but sealed.

According to the Daily Hampshire Gazette’s on-line site, Mississippi State and the University of Massachusetts will begin a three-game series next season. The Bulldogs of the Southeastern Conference will play the Minutemen not on their Amherst campus but in Foxboro’s Gillette Stadium.

UMass is a FBS division program in the Mid American Conference. According to, the Minutemen will give Mississippi State two more home games; in September 2017 and October 2020.

Unfortunately for Bulldog fans, replacing the date that had been contracted with Tulane means only six home games in 2016. Tulane told Mississippi State last month they would not play next year’s game, which was to be at Scott Field on September 24.

Tulane will pay the contracted $350,000 penalty for breaking the contract. They can afford it after signing a three-game series with Oklahoma that will pay over a million dollars, allowing Tulane to profit handsomely despite the penalty.

Talking last week with D.B., Stricklin confirmed that “There was some anticipation that might happen” regarding a game contracted years ago. He all but admitted that it would have to be a road replacement “because of the late notice.”

Mississippi State had seven-home game schedules in the late 1990s during the old eleven-game seasons; and during several short stretches in the 2000s. Starting with 2009 five of the six seasons also had seven home games which all the last three athletic directors have agreed is the ideal in terms of affordable season tickets.

The exception was 2013 when Mississippi State and Oklahoma State were contracted to open the season in a neutral-site event at Houston.

Because of Tulane’s quick change 2016 will be an exception also. “After 2016 for the foreseeable future, unless somebody backs out, we’re set-up to have seven home games,” Stricklin said. “That’s obviously our preference. We’ve got a chance to get that locked-up fairly shortly and do it in such a way I think it makes sense.”

Ironically, UMass will be playing Tulane in 2016, also.

Stricklin also confirmed last week that State has a two-for-one deal with Louisiana Tech, as well as one more game Tech owes MSU. The Bulldogs visit Ruston in 2016. Stricklin said the other years are flexible as the two programs do not want to play four-straight years.

And after visiting the northeast next September State has another long trip to make in 2016, to the opposite side of the country. The Bulldogs are at Brigham Young for the first of a home-and-home set that fulfills the SEC’s mandate that all league teams play an opponent either from one of the other ‘power five’ conferences or schedule a program that can be counted as such. The BYU series has received the league’s waiver to count both years.

Under the SEC’s inter-Division rotation, Mississippi State replaces 2015 road opponent Missouri by hosting South Carolina in 2016. The rest of MSU’s future rotations are: 2017 at Georgia; 2018 Florida, 2019 at Tennessee; 2020 Missouri, 2021 at Vanderbilt; 2022 Georgia, 2023 at South Carolina; 2024 Tennessee, 2025 at Florida.

Playing UMass will not impact Bulldog chances for bowl eligibility.

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