Auburn athletics director Jay Jacobs said Thursday getting the Southeastern Conference schedule is the one hurdle remaining before the two sides can reach an official agreement. SEC schedules are not currently set beyond 2012. The game will most likely be played in 2012 or 2013.
"The game is not set, but I told them that we would like to play them," Jacobs said. "We've agreed, handshake, verbal, whatever it is — my word is my bond — that we're going to play. It's just a matter of us getting our schedule from the SEC after 2012."
Auburn currently has a full schedule in 2010 as well as a pair of non-conference games — including one against Samford — scheduled for 2011. The Tigers don't have any non-conference games officially booked for 2012 or 2013.
Jacksonville State will play Florida State this season, Ole Miss in 2010 and Florida in 2012. The Gamecocks do not have a pay-to-play in 2011, but it is rumored that Kansas State could be in the works for the second slot in 2012.
That both sides have familiarity with one another likely made it easier to reach an accord.
JSU coach Jack Crowe was Auburn's offensive coordinator under Pat Dye from 1982-85. That spans the same time Jacobs played for the Tigers. JSU athletics director Oval Jaynes also has ties to Auburn, having worked as an associate athletics director from 1981-86.
Before becoming Auburn's athletics director, Jacobs was once a finalist for the same position at Jacksonville State.
Crowe said Thursday the game against Auburn carries great significance for the JSU program.
"It means an awful lot," Crowe said. "I think there are certain things that you do that represent an incremental advancement in a program. I think to be playing one of the premier state universities in our own state is something we have tried to get done for a long time and now we'll be able to recruit with the idea that a lot of our players grew up Auburn fans and a lot of them will be excited to play in that arena. It's a bus trip, it's close, and I don't know how much money we're getting but I assume it's along the lines of what they've paid other folks.
"It's exciting for our players and me."
Auburn already has a future meeting with Samford and has an agreement to play Jacksonville State as well. Still, Jacobs said the university is not necessarily looking to play other in-state schools.
Over the past two years, Auburn has played two teams from Jacksonville State's conference, the Ohio Valley Conference. The Tigers played Tennessee Tech in 2007 and Tennessee-Martin in 2008.
Crowe said he is thankful the Gamecocks will get their shot against Auburn in a few years as well.
"I've been telling Jay for a while that we wanted to do this but I knew there were issues and I didn't know to what extent," Crowe said. "To have this worked out, I really appreciate Oval and Jay for making it work."