For 2013, Missouri’s scheduling format is reminiscent of the Big 12 formula that fans had become familiar with, stacking all four non-conference games at the beginning of the season.
The Tigers beat Murray State and Toledo, play at Indiana on Saturday and host Arkansas State next weekend before diving into SEC play at Vanderbilt on Oct. 5.
Of course, that is likely to change in coming years now that the Tigers are in a new conference.
“In the Big 12, that’s generally the way we were scheduled most of the time,” Missouri coach Gary Pinkel said. “We used to play our non-conference games almost every year before we got to conference play. … Last year was a little different for us, but this is not that unusual for the Big 12.”
Of course, the SEC subscribes to a different philosophy, which Missouri got a taste of last season with Georgia penciled in for the second game of the season.
Moving forward, early-season SEC battles are likely to become the norm.
“I see a lot of different strategies as I look through this league,” Missouri coach Gary Pinkel said. “The Big 12 was almost set like that and I think there’s advantages to that too. It allows you to play several games before you get into conference play.”
There will be a little more strategy involved in constructed schedules in the future.
“I’ve always called it ‘intelligent scheduling’ and it’s real, real important,” Pinkel said. “We’ll just see where it goes and when the league decides our eight- or 10-year schedule somewhere down the line.”
The SEC’s notion of intelligent scheduling includes stacking a few marquee conference games right off the bat to generate buzz and TV ratings.
As a result, Pinkel hopes to place bye weeks and non-conference games strategically to ease the grind of SEC play and give the Tigers the best opportunity for success.
For instance, that could mean scheduling Murray State midseason, perhaps the week before a trip to The Swamp for a showdown with Florida during future seasons.
“So you don’t have the onslaught of the great league that we’re in and the consistency of great teams,” Pinkel said. “Philosophically, it’s done a lot of different ways and, obviously, TV comes into effect too with your non-conference games.”