Ray Tanner understands the difficulty of coaching in a competitive conference. He was doing it himself as South Carolinas baseball coach fewer than 12 months ago.
Now, as the Gamecocks athletic director, Tanner said he also understands the value of playing an attractive schedule. He will try to find a balance in those two things as he and deputy athletics director Charles Waddell prepare South Carolinas future football schedules.
Tanner spoke to The State recently about his developing philosophy on football scheduling and said he already has had discussions with major schools about being on the Gamecocks future schedules.
With eight SEC games determined by the conference, South Carolina has control over four games a year and one of those slots is taken annually by in-state rival Clemson. Rather than use the other three spaces for what Tanner calls buy games, paying small-school opponents to come to Williams-Brice Stadium for games South Carolina would be heavily favored to win, Tanner wants to attract a big-name foe for one of those games.
I think we need to play certainly Clemson and maybe another opponent that could be difficult, Tanner said. Coach (Steve) Spurrier certainly weighs in on how we do our schedule, but we are talking to some teams in the future that will probably put us in that category where there are two not four.
The Gamecocks 2013, 2014 and 2015 non-conference slates are full but dates remain in 2016 and beyond, and a big-name opponent could end up on the schedule as early as then, Tanner said.
Like his predecessor Eric Hyman, Tanner wants to keep playing in-state schools in addition to Clemson, he said. The Gamecocks have one of the states smaller schools on the schedule through the 2016 season.
We have a lot of schools in this state that play football and I believe in the commerce of this state, Tanner said. Im not saying itll be 100 percent rotation, but thats my preference.
The SECs 14 athletic directors were scheduled to meet in Birmingham, Ala., this week to discuss the conferences future scheduling model. That model, which will change South Carolinas annual SEC West opponent from Arkansas to Texas A&M, was expected to be implemented for 2013 but an inability to comes to terms on all the details forced a postponement.
Tanner does not expect the SEC to go to a nine-game conference schedule in the new model. That hasnt been a major part of the conversations we have had at this point, but as you know a lot of things are going on across the country and it seems like people are still moving around, he said.
NON-CONFERENCE FOES USCs future non-conference opponents that are scheduled. 2013 North Carolina Central Florida Coastal Carolina Clemson 2014 East Carolina Furman Troy Clemson 2015 East Carolina UCF The Citadel Clemson 2016 East Carolina Clemson S.C. State 2021 Georgia Tech Clemson 2022 Georgia Tech Clemson