AUBURN, Ala. – Auburn is expected to announce, possibly as early as today, that it will move its game with West Virginia to a mid-season Thursday night game.
The Tigers were slated to play the Mountaineers on Sept. 6 in Morgantown, W.V., Auburn’s second game after opening with Louisiana-Monroe. However, ESPN has been working with both schools to move the game. The game will now be played on Oct. 23.
“I think it’s good for us,” Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville said. “It’s a road game we’d like to play. We’ll have a lot of new players, a new offense and a new defensive coordinator, so that gives us a chance to get our feet on the ground. We’ll have an open date, but they will too. Then we’ll have 10 days to get ready for who we play after that (Ole Miss).”
Auburn was scheduled to play Southern Miss on Oct. 18, but that game will now be played in Auburn on Sept. 6. That gives the Tigers an open date on Oct. 18, then they will be off on Oct. 25, a Saturday, as well, just before playing Ole Miss on Nov. 1.
Tuberville said in December that Auburn agreed to allow ESPN to look at moving the game, but didn’t want a Thursday night game early in the season. Originally, ESPN wanted the game moved up to Sept. 4.
Tuberville said ESPN handled all the details of the scheduling change. It’s not the first time. ESPN also brokered deals which allowed Auburn to open the season with one-shot games against Washington State in 2006 and Kansas State in 2007.
“They’ve been working on it,” Tuberville said. “ESPN is doing a lot of games like that. They do deals with other teams. It would be hard for us to move people around without incentives. For instance, Southern Miss will move it and ESPN will promise them a (televised) basketball game.
“They have a way to deal because they handle so much college sports. They do it all the time. They control a lot of things that happen – times, dates, other teams.”
The scheduling change helps the Tigers on several fronts. First, Auburn won’t face such a talented team so early in the schedule with a new quarterback running the offense. Second, the Tigers have a chance to break up what could have been a formidable first half of the season.
Had the schedule remained the same, Auburn would have played three Top 10 teams in a four-week span – with a trip to Mississippi State, which beat Auburn in 2006, throw in as well.
AUBURN 2008 FOOTBALL SCHEDULEAug. 30;LOUISIANA-MONROESept. 6;SOUTHERN MISSSept. 13;at Mississippi StateSept. 20;LSUSept. 27;TENNESSEEOct. 4;at VanderbiltOct. 11;ARKANSASOct. 23;at West VirginiaNov. 1;at Ole MissNov. 8;TENNESSEE-MARTINNov. 15;GEORGIANov. 29;at Alabama