Yesterday, we were promised the second installment of NIU's "SchedulePalooza Encore" to go along with Tulsa, which was announced on Monday (grade = eh). Through one reason or another (likely a snag in getting specifics hammered out with this series or another), we didn't get that home-and-home series released. We did get the clues, though, which all point to USF (grade = eh+). That will be confirmed or corrected tomorrow barring any more problems. So, the third installment turned into the second installment today, and it sends the Northern Illinois Huskies back into the SEC.
Hello, Vanderbilt. The Vanderbilt Commodores were officially announced today, with the series beginning in 2019 in Nashville, concluding in 2022 in DeKalb. They become the fourth Power Five school that athletic director Sean T. Frazier has added home-and-home series with in the last two months, joining Utah, Maryland and Boston College.
Vanderbilt, also known as "The Most Forgotten Team In The SEC," is the only SEC team to ever come to DeKalb, back in 1997. The Huskies are 0-3 against the Commodores, the last meeting in 1999. NIU is 1-10 against the SEC, just losing to Arkansas last week. There are no other SEC opponents on the future schedules as of yet.
This Vanderbilt program is coming off one of its best stretches in school history, making bowl appearances three years running. But with James Franklin now in Penn State, the Vanderbilt football program has dropped significantly, with the only win this season coming after a rally against UMass. Struggles have been more common than successes for Vandy in the SEC East. We'll see how the complexion of the program changes in five years.
That leaves the Big 12 as the only other Power Five conference that Frazier has yet to nail down. Are they coming tomorrow along with USF? Or will this Encore be a nice distraction in an off week, but leave something to be desired?