Alcorn to go forward after SWAC unveils master schedule

Published 12:00 am Monday, February 14, 2005

LORMAN &045; Forget all the hassles, conflicts and dates that are just out of the question.

The Southwestern Athletic Conference released a master schedule for football for the 2005 and 2006 seasons, and everybody will play everybody. Alcorn will play Arkansas-Pine Bluff, Southern will face UAPB and Jackson State will face Texas Southern after all three fell on the cutting room floor just prior to the 2004 season.

The conference released a nine-game mandate where all games pitting two SWAC opponents will count as a conference game &045; regardless of who finished in what standing last season.

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&uot;At this point, it’s good that we finally worked a conference-wide agreement that everybody would play everybody and all the games would count,&uot; Alcorn athletic director Robert Raines said. &uot;That relieves a lot of stress. This gives everybody a nine-game conference schedule. Some people will have eight straight conference games. There’s no way around that.&uot;

The master schedule for Alcorn will be similar to its schedule in recent seasons with the season-opener against Grambling Sept. 3 at home, a Sept. 24 game at Alabama State and its final three games against Mississippi Valley, Alabama A&M and Jackson State.

The Braves will have UAPB on their schedule for Oct. 1 after the game fell through last season. Southern also backed out of its game with UAPB, leaving the Golden Lions with a nine-game schedule and some awkward tie-breaker calls from the conference.

Raines said there may be a conflict with the UAPB game, and schools will meet on a conference call at 2 p.m. today. The schedule also has open dates Sept. 10, Sept. 17 and Oct. 29, but school officials finalized a contract to play Langston University Sept. 17.

The Braves may play in as many as three classic games this season.

&uot;We’ve got UAPB back on our schedule, but we lost Southeastern Louisiana,&uot; Raines said. &uot;I’m hoping to be able to fill (Sept. 10). That (Oct. 29) is a good open date for us. It’s coming down the back stretch with Valley and Jackson State and coming after the Southern game.&uot;

The conference will retain the East and West divisions and its SWAC Championship in December, but the switch to all nine games counting takes away validity of having divisions, Raines said.

If the divisional plan is scrapped, the conference could go to having a regular season champion and reinstitute the Heritage Bowl &045; a contest pitting the SWAC champ against the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference champion.

&uot;I’ll step out there to say it &045; it sort of makes you wonder what’s the need for retaining East and West divisions,&uot; Raines said. &uot;I’m a supporter of all games counting. I had been a supporter of the SWAC champion playing the MEAC champion for a black college national championship. We need to do that.&uot;