The Southeastern Conference has provided a preliminary schedule for all league series in 2016. In Mississippi State’s case, the conference office has booked the Bulldogs to begin SEC play at one of the 2015 national finalists; and finish the schedule at home against another College World Series participant.
The dates for these series, at least the first nine weekends, have not been finalized. For simplicity, they will be listed as Friday-Saturday-Sunday games but this is unofficial and subject to changing between now and winter.
@ Vanderbilt March 18-20; Georgia March 25-27; Ole Miss April 1-3; @ Florida April 8-10; Texas A&M April 15-17; @ Louisiana State April 22-24; @ Alabama April 29-May 1; Missouri May 6-8; @ Auburn May 13-15; Arkansas May 20-22.
Changes in opponents are swapping the 2015 trip to Kentucky for a series at Vanderbilt, which also opens the league slate; and playing both Georgia and Missouri at home instead of this past spring’s series with South Carolina and at Tennessee.
2016 will mark the first time Missouri has visited Dudy Noble Field as a SEC opponent. Not the first trip to town ever, though as State hosted and defeated the Tigers in the 2003 NCAA Regional. The off-and-on rivalry with those other Bulldogs will be played in Starkville this year, Georgia’s first visit to DNF since 2010.
Also, the annual rivalry with Ole Miss moves a couple of weeks sooner in the schedule than the usual mid-April to early-May dates. The last time the in-state opponents played this early was in 2008 when they opened the conference season together.
An obvious reason that these series are set but not the exact days is television. The two networks—ESPNU and SEC Network--which carry the league’s popular early-starting series for Thursday evening broadcasts will not make their selections until later.
The only series which for-sure will start on Thursdays is the last one, for every team. The SEC made that move a decade ago to allow just a bit more rest before the conference tournament. This became even more important when the SEC tourney was expanded to 12 teams and since 2012 has started on Tuesdays.
The 2016 SEC Tournament is May 24-29. Interestingly, this is the final year of a five-season extension deal between the SEC and Hoover Metropolitan Stadium to host the event. Whether the event does move for 2017 or beyond, Bulldog fans certainly hope they can see their team play in the ’16 Tournament. Mississippi State was one of the two league teams (along with Georgia) which did not make the 12-team field for 2015.
Mississippi State has not announced the dates of Super Bulldog Weekend for 2016. But a look at the baseball schedule quickly narrows the options. The April 15-17 series with Texas A&M is the only home stand interrupting a stretch of three road trips that month.
In an early June media meeting, seven-season Coach John Cohen said the full 2016 schedule was still being set.