Arkansas-Pine Bluff finally has a 2012 football schedule set.
The SWAC on Friday released its composite football schedule, which includes each game for all 10 of its members. UAPB will play 11 games this season, including four at Golden Lion Stadium and the Sept. 1 season opener against Langston (Okla.) at War Memorial Stadium in Little Rock.
Fifth-year UAPB coach Monte Coleman said Friday the reason UAPB’s schedule was released later than many other colleges’ was that the school wanted to move the Prairie View A&M game to Nov. 17, the final date of the regular season, to create a bye week. The move also prevented the homecoming game against Mississippi Valley State on Oct. 27 from being the Senior Day game as well.
“We definitely didn’t want that,” Coleman said.
It will be the second year in a row the Golden Lions, who went 6-5 last season, open with two straight games in Arkansas. The Langston game is the Delta Classic 4 Literacy on Sept. 1. Alabama A&M will visit Pine Bluff on Sept. 8.
The Lions will visit Tennessee State of the Ohio Valley Conference on Sept. 29 for the schools’ first meeting since 1947. The schools agreed to a two-year home-and-home deal, Coleman said, meaning UAPB will get to host Tennessee State next season.
That will conclude a three-week stretch on the road for the Lions, who will travel to Alcorn State and Alabama State in that period. Jackson State will play at Golden Lion Stadium on Oct. 6, and UAPB will take a break before visiting Southern on Oct. 20 in a rematch of a 22-21 UAPB victory last Oct. 15 that ended with a brawl between the teams. The brawl led to the suspensions of 25 UAPB and 15 Southern players.
The Lions will host Valley, then visit Texas Southern and Grambling State before welcoming Prairie View A&M for the regular-season finale.
Noticeably absent from the schedule is a trip to the St. Louis Gateway Classic. The Golden Lions have played in the game almost every year since its 1994 inception.
Athletic director Lonza Hardy Jr. said the game wasn’t financially beneficial for UAPB, but he is not ruling out the possibility of returning to St. Louis.
“The last contract called for the university to get $100,000, contingent on the university selling tickets,” Hardy said. “If a university has to sell tickets, I don’t consider that a guarantee.”
Hardy said he also factored in expenses for the band and cheer groups traveling to St. Louis.
“It’s a game Mr. Hardy and I definitely wanted to go to,” Coleman said, mentioning the UAPB athletic director. “Our fan base definitely enjoys going to St. Louis, but just for reasons, we decided not to go.”
A message for Gateway Classic organizers was not returned.
Football Championship Subdivision (formerly I-AA) teams will move to 12-game schedules in 2013, and Coleman hopes the extra game will allow for a return trip to St. Louis as well as a Football Bowl Subdivision opponent. Coleman said last fall he had talked with Arkansas State about a 2013 meeting, but Arkansas State declined to confirm any discussions.
“Everything is a possibility,” Coleman said. “We have not started on the 2013 schedule.”
Arkansas State, the Sun Belt Conference champion, will host Alcorn State on Sept. 22.
Other notable games in the SWAC composite schedule include: Southern at New Mexico and Jackson State at Mississippi State, both on Sept. 1; Bethune-Cookman vs. Alabama State in the MEAC/SWAC Challenge in Orlando, Fla., on Sept. 2; Grambling State at TCU on Sept. 8; Prairie View at FCS national champion North Dakota State on Sept. 22; and Alabama A&M at Auburn on Nov. 17.