2013 is a crucial year for Auburn Baseball. The Tigers have missed the NCAA postseason two years in a row and the seat is getting warm for head coach John Pawlowski. Auburn is still searching for that kickstart and that return to the oh-so-long-ago time of 2010. Making the SEC Tournament is now expected -- which is an improvement over the previous regime -- and now Auburn is trying to make the NCAA and hopefully make some noise. Why is the schedule so crucial for Auburn? Mainly because the schedule has been their downfall the past two years. In 2011, Auburn couldn't crack .500 despite having a solid RPI. In 2012, Auburn eeked out a winning record, but the RPI was too low. (Which was likely a result of weaker in-state competition and the head scratching choice to schedule 200+ RPI schools like Alcorn and Alabama State). The schedule is important.
Probably not intentional, but the 2013 Auburn Baseball Schedule is live on the official mobile site (but not the "official" official site).
Auburn opens up SEC play with Vanderbilt at home on March 15th-17th and the rest of the SEC Schedule consists of @ LSU (3/22-24), Alabama (3/29-3/31), @ Texas A&M (4/5-4/7), UGA (4/12-4/14), @ Mississippi State (4/19-4/21), @ Missouri (4/26-4/28), Ole Miss (5/3-5/5), @ Florida (5/10-5/12), and finally finishing at home with Arkansas on May 16th-18th.
Not an overly tough SEC Schedule. Auburn will avoid South Carolina, Tennessee, and Kentucky and gets SEC East toughy Vanderbilt at home. Having both UGA and Bama at home is also pretty ideal. Still, the Tigers got the short end of the stick by adding road trips to Texas A&M and Missouri. That might have been a factor in Auburn backing out of its series with Arizona and scheduling as many home games as possible.
The non-conference slate is nothing of note. The Tigers will host Alabama State twice (3/19 and 4/10) and will do the normal home-and-homes with Jacksonville State, Troy, and Samford. Notably absent from the schedule? South Alabama. However -- and this hasn't been confirmed -- the rumor is that the March 20th game vs Southern Miss will actually be played in Mobile.
Initial reaction to the schedule? Meh. Nothing really to get excited about. The toughest non-conference games will probably end up being Samford, Southern Miss, College of Charleston, and maybe Indiana State.
The non-conference schedule only features three teams that went to the NCAA Tournament last year: Charleston, Indiana State, and Samford.
The emphasis will be on wins and confidence -- just like Kentucky last year. The strength of schedule won't be tough at the onset, but if Auburn can roll into the SEC opener with a 15-1 or 16-0 record, then mission accomplished.