Jax State, Auburn cancel 2013 game
by Star staffAl Muskewitz
Oct 29, 2012 | 6368 views |  0 comments | 10 10 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Auburn quarterback Clint Moseley (left, Star photo by Trent Penny) and Jacksonville State signal-caller Coty Blanchard (Star photo by Stephen Gross).
Auburn quarterback Clint Moseley (left, Star photo by Trent Penny) and Jacksonville State signal-caller Coty Blanchard (Star photo by Stephen Gross).
JACKSONVILLE — The much-anticipated, first football meeting between Jacksonville State and Auburn is off, because Auburn could not resolve a conflict with its 2013 Southeastern Conference schedule.

That means the Gamecocks are now in the market for two games to complete their 2013 schedule, but they still will receive the $500,000 guarantee that was written into the contract, setting up a potential double payday if they can find an equally lucrative replacement.

“We tried every combination you could try,” JSU athletics director Warren Koegel said Monday. “... I know Jay (Jacobs, Auburn’s AD) wanted to play and we wanted to play. There wasn’t any animosity of anybody not wanting to play. It was just getting the date.

“We thought we had it and it didn’t work.”

The schools agreed in principle to the game several years ago — before the SEC expanded to add Missouri and Texas A&M — and eventually signed the contract April 20, 2011. The teams were scheduled to play Oct. 19 in Jordan-Hare Stadium, and Koegel as recently as this spring was told “everything was fine,” but when Auburn received its 2013 SEC schedule last month, a road game with Texas A&M was on that date.

Because Auburn was the breaching party, it is on the hook for the $500,000. The check is due to JSU on or before March 1, 2014.

The earliest the teams could possibly get together again is 2016, according to JSU’s schedule. Koegel had been exploring the possibility of a game with Penn State in that year before the Jerry Sandusky scandal broke and now all future scheduling considerations are on hold there until after this season concludes.

Auburn on Monday announced its non-conference games now as Washington State, Arkansas State, FCS Western Carolina and Florida Atlantic. Auburn acknowledged the loss of the JSU game in a statement announcing its non-SEC schedule but said only a scheduling conflict could not be resolved.

“Our intent was to play Jacksonville State in 2013 and we worked very hard to resolve the scheduling issue,” Jacobs told The Star late Monday night. “Unfortunately, we were unable to.”

Gamecocks football coach Jack Crowe had long pushed for a game with one of the state’s two SEC schools. He was disappointed it fell through — he is a former Auburn assistant — but “totally understood” the circumstances.

“I do respect Auburn’s attempt,” Crowe said. “Auburn has supported college football in Alabama — all its fans. And I honor their commitment to the state and I honor their class.”

Koegel called the failed matchup “an important game to our coaches, players, fans and alumni.” Fran Blanchard, a former JSU receiver whose son Coty is one of the Gamecocks’ quarterbacks, learned the news after landing on a business trip in Dallas. He was looking forward to watching his son play on The Plains — just as he did at Arkansas, Kentucky and Ole Miss.

Blanchard predicted it would have been “the biggest travel game we’d ever have.”

“All of us were looking forward to going down there; that would have been a good game,” Blanchard said. “I know Coty would’ve loved the opportunity to go down there and play and be in that type environment again. It’s really disappointing not going down to Auburn. If I’m Auburn, I’m not at all disappointed I had to drop (JSU) because it had to be one of those ‘Dang, we’re not getting one of those patsy I-AA teams coming in here.’”

Koegel was uncertain how the Gamecocks would fill the holes in their schedule now, but was adamant about the Gamecocks playing six home games in 2013 and 2014 — years FCS teams can play 12 games. Their avalable dates for 2013 are Aug. 31 (which could be a Thursday start), Sept. 14 and, of course, Oct. 19. They need one game to complete the 2014 slate, Koegel said.

The Gamecocks are contracted to play Jacksonville University and at Georgia State next year.

Koegel said he was talking to “a lot of people” to get a game and was waiting for replies from “some.” He said he now hopes to have it completed by the end of this football season.

“We were doing that in anticipation of this, but at this late date there’s not as much available,” Koegel said. “We’re going to look at all the different options and come up with the best one ... for our program. There are so many different things that could happen.”

Koegel maintained the idea of playing Auburn is not dead.

“We would love to play Auburn, we would love to play a lot of schools in our state, so we’re trying to make that happen,” he said. “I think it would be good for the State of Alabama to play people in the State of Alabama. Two don’t want to play us.”

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