They found success in their first football program since 1941. While they didn't make it to the post-season in their first year back, the Mercer football program can feel good about itself and their success in 2013. If 2013 was good, the Bears hope that 2014 will be better.
The school announced their 2014 schedule, which includes contests in the Southern Conference. The Bears will play non-conference games against three opponents from 2013 when it opens its first Southern Conference season in 2014. Start times will be announced at a later date.
“This is an outstanding schedule for our program and our fans,” Mercer head coach Bobby Lamb told the Macon Telegraph and WMAZ-TV. “Making the move to the Southern Conference is a huge leap but we look forward to facing the challenge. Our fans and game day atmosphere is one of the best in the country and we expect them to show up this fall and be the difference.”
The schedule includes seven home games and three teams in the same situation as Mercer: second-year programs. Reinhardt and Warner are NAIA programs that had varied success in 2013 and Stetson was a Pioneer Football League opponent in its first year back, as well.
Reinhardt lost the heartbreaking opener against Mercer, 40-37 on Josh Shutter’s field goal with three seconds left but finished 6-4. The Bears manhandled Warner 61-0 two weeks later and thumped Stetson 41-14 to end the season.
The 2014 schedule will also have a 6-degrees of separation of sorts for Lamb as the Bears host Furman as he takes on his alma mater on September 6th. Lamb played at Furman, was a graduate assistant, an assistant and then head coach at Furman before resigning after the 2010 season with a 67-40 record. The Bears finish the season at Wofford.
Other non-conference opponents for the Bears include Ave Maria and Austin Peay are the other two non-conference opponents and they will both play at Mercer. Ave Maria (September 20th) is an NAIA program that went 8-2 last year, including a 27-3 win over Warner. Austin Peay (October 11th) was winless in the Ohio Valley Conference at 0-12 and 0-8. The Governors have had two winning seasons (7-4 in 2007 and 7-5 in 2002) since the turn of the century.
2014 Mercer schedule
August 28 Reinhardt
September 6 Furman*
September 13 at Stetson
September 20 Ave Maria
September 27 at Virginia Military Institute*
October 4 at Samford*
October 11 Austin Peay
October 18 Western Carolina*
October 25 at Chattanooga*
November 1 The Citadel*
November 8 Open Date
November 15 Warner
November 22 at Wofford*
*Southern Conference games