Coach James Franklin has touted Vanderbilt’s 2012 schedule as one of the toughest in the country.
He has pointed out that no other Southeastern Conference team goes on the road to play two non-conference BCS opponents this year.
Apparently, he doesn’t want a repeat.
When the Commodores released their 2013 football schedule on Thursday scheduled games against Big Ten foes Ohio State and Northwestern no longer were on the slate. Instead, Alabama-Birmingham was added to the favorable non-conference schedule, which also includes Austin Peay, Massachusetts and Wake Forest.
The announcement comes on the same day the Southeastern Conference released its league schedules. For the second straight year, the Commodores will open the regular season against an SEC foe, hosting Ole Miss on Aug. 31. In addition to its six SEC East foes, Vanderbilt will also travel to College Station, Texas to play Texas A&M for the first time.
Vanderbilt will play seven games at home — against Ole Miss, Austin Peay, UAB, Missouri, Georgia, Kentucky and Wake Forest. The Commodores travel to South Carolina, UMass, Texas A&M, Florida and Tennessee.
“I’m pleased to participate in the announcement of next year's schedule, and very happy with it," athletics director David Williams said in a release. “This concludes a complex process that required a great deal of time. ... The new schedule has meant that we needed to reshape our non-conference schedule since there are now league conflicts with several of our prior 2013 arrangements.”
More than a year ago, Vanderbilt announced it would play its 2013 season opener at Ohio State — on Aug. 31.
Last month, the Commodores played their second game in a four-game deal with Northwestern. But the last two years of that contract have been cancelled. Vanderbilt was scheduled to host the Wildcats on Sept. 14, 2013. Now the Commodores will play at South Carolina that day.
Williams, who was traveling out of town, did not immediately return a phone call for further comment.
In 2010, Austin Peay, a Football Championship Subdivision opponent that competes in the Ohio Valley Conference, scheduled a one-game contest with Vanderbilt. The teams will meet for the first time.
UMass will come to town in just more than a week for the first game of a four-year deal. The Commodores will end the 2012 regular season against Wake Forest. The seven-year deal between the two schools ends in 2014.
With a 14-week schedule, the Commodores have two byes — one before hosting Georgia on Oct. 19 and another prior to a road trip to Florida on Nov. 9.
“Opening next year with an SEC team like Ole Miss will be a tremendous challenge for our players and coaches right out of the gate,” coach James Franklin said. “I like the way our home schedule lines up for our team and fans, including our first home game against Missouri since 1957. The road schedule also presents plenty of opportunities for our squad.”
Tennessee also released its 2013 schedule on Thursday.
The Vols also have seven homes games, ending with Vanderbilt on Nov. 23. They’ll also host Austin Peay (season opener), Western Kentucky, South Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina and Auburn.
Their first road game is at Oregon, currently ranked second in the country, followed by trips to Florida, Alabama, Missouri and Kentucky.