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SEC Could Be All Alone With 8-Game Schedule

The Pac-10 is playing nine conference games per season.  Ditto the Big 12 this year.  The Big Ten will do the same beginning in 2017.  And according to this report, the post-expansion ACC will likely be a nine-game league, too.  (Virginia Tech AD Jim Weaver would actually like to see a 10-game in-conference schedule.)

If the Big 12 sticks with a nine-game plan, that would leave four of the current six BCS conferences with nine-game conference schedules, one — the Big East — on life support, and the SEC all by its lonesome with an eight-game schedule.  So would the SEC stand pat?

League coaches would campaign for the status quo.  When the league went from six to seven to eight SEC games per year, coaches moaned.  When the SEC Championship Game was added, coaches moaned.  In a league as tough as the SEC — they claimed — no one could win a national title when having to play so many conference rivals.

We know now that that was faulty thinking.  The SEC has won more titles post-expansion than it had in the 20 years prior to expansion (and the championship game and the eight-game schedule).

The SEC has been given the benefit of the doubt by pollsters time and again because of its perceived mini-NFL toughness.  Florida was pushed into the BCS title game over Michigan at the end of the 2006 season.  LSU landed in the BCS title game with two losses in 2007.

If history is a guide, a nine-game schedule would be unlikely to hurt the SEC in its pursuit of national crowns.  And it may save one of the league’s biggest rivalries as well.

If Missouri eventually joins the SEC, it’s believed by most that Auburn will shift from the West Division to the East Division.  AU president Jay Gogue has even okay’d just a move publicly.

If moved, the Tigers would then become the permanent protected rival of Alabama.  Currently, Alabama’s protected rival is Tennessee.  If Auburn moves and an eight-game schedule is kept, the Third Saturday in October game could lose its annual slot on the schedule.

Alabama and Tennessee are one-two on the SEC’s all-time standings board.  They have won more league crowns than any other programs (Tide 22, Vols 13).  For a league located in a region that takes its history and traditions just a shade more than seriously, it’s hard to imagine the SEC allowing a classic rivalry like Alabama-Tennessee to go by the wayside.

Especially if the solution is a nine-game league schedule.  A nine-game league schedule that every other major conference might wind up using.

 


53 comments
Andy
Andy

Most in Missouri now believe that Missouri will be in the East with Arkansas as their cross divisional rival. This is fine with Mizzou as 1/2 of their conference games would be against schools from boarder states: Kentucky, Tennessee, Vanderbilt, and Arkansas. Florida and Georgia are far, but so is Texas, Texas Tech, and Baylor, or for that matter, Texas A&M.

MIZ_SEC
MIZ_SEC

I have been toying with the idea of the SEC starting division alignment from scratch and going to a more random format (like Big Ten's new Leaders and Legends division) and I'm curious about what Mr. SEC and everyone else think about this potential format. I think this set-up would preserve most traditional rivalries and evenly divide the power schools. (don't take the division names too seriously, I just came up with them now)

How about this.

Adolph Rupp Division
Florida
Georgia
Auburn
Arky
Mizzou
Ole Miss
Kentucky

Bear Bryant Division
Bama
LSU
Tennessee
A&M
Miss St
South Carolina
Vandy

Andy
Andy

Hate to say it but much of this is about money for teams playing four non-conference home games each year. Adding a ninth conference game each year (which a team would only be able to play at home every other year) would mean one less home non-conference game every other year, which probably translates into a $2-3 million net loss of gate revenue. concessions, etc... (even after paying the non-conference team an appearance fee) for that year.

KC Guy
KC Guy

I know Mizzou is trying to protect their interests, but I don't see them joining the SEC East. You're talking about a ton of travel there and they'd be away from a natural rival, Arkansas. Mizzou fans could at least drive to Arkansas within 3-4 hours. A drive from KC to Gainsville or South Carolina would take almost a day. We're 18 hours from Knoxville. I know the fans are not the main concern in this whole thing, but it sure would be nice if they could at least play in the West.

KC Guy
KC Guy

Hey, I'm a Mizzou fan and am new to the board. I live in the Kansas City area, which is huge a Big 12 territory, with KU/ K-State/ Iowa State/ Mizzou and Nebraska all having local games at Arrowhead Stadium. I'm worried for the Tiger fans in my area because we have great rivalries here. The KU rivalry goes back to the civil war and is the oldest football rivalry west of the Mississippi. If and when we do join the SEC, I want the Tigers to be able to establish real rivalries. Big Daddy Rich's list of rivalry games has me a little worried. He has the Tigers playing Kentucky and Vandy every year. Now, don't get me wrong, I'll gladly take the victories, but a rivalry should be a game that gets people excited. I may be outstepping my bounds here, but a rivalry game with Tennessee could be a lot of fun. That's a game people could get excited about and a game that could go either way. People in St. Louis and southern Missouri would go nuts over it. What do you guys think, could Missouri and Tennessee become a yearly rivalry.

Another Option
Another Option

I think a good solution would be to move Vandy to the West and both Auburn and 'Bama to the East. Just seems wrong to split them two up and Vandy is further West.

Jamie Thornton
Jamie Thornton

First off, it's been made clear that if mizzou comes to the sec, it will be in the east. The sec presidents are NOT going to allow rivalry games like UT/Bama to go away. See the report out of Birmingham last week. Second, I don't see the sec going to 9 or 10 unless the sec goes to 16.

tradeassociation
tradeassociation

"He also noted he had what he called a cordial conversation with SEC commissioner Mike Slive and asked him to give notice if he intends to invite Mizzou to join the league."

Yeah, sure. Neinas knows that Mizzou has to apply first, not be invited, just as it was with A&M. All Slive contacting Neinas first will do is give Neinas an opening to claim that the SEC is poaching one of their teams, which is what Neinas wants. And if Slive doesn't do it, then Neinas will accuse Slive and the SEC of playing dirty. Remember, the Big East used the ACC's failure to give them adequate notice before their raid as one of the claims of their lawsuit, Neinas is building a PR case for claiming the same.

Wow, this Neinas is a real piece of work. Even if he can't use the media to derail the deal, it looks like he is content try to extract the maximum exit fee from Mizzou in order to hand it over to Texas and Oklahoma. While I want Mizzou and Slive to wait until he can get 10 votes - even if means holding off until when A&M is a voting member - this process can't end fast enough.

tradeassociation
tradeassociation

More stuff:

"Asked if he still intended to visit Columbia as initially planned, Neinas said communication with MU would be confidential."

Yeah. Sure they are. Neinas knows that if he sells the idea that Missouri won't join the SEC in 2012, then fence-sitting SEC presidents might respond "Why add them now anyway ... why not give it 6 months until we hear from (insert school that we want here) first?" If that happens, then that allows Neinas to go back and say "See, the SEC rejected you just like the Big 10 did. So why not come and get the best deal that you can with us until 2017, and maybe by then the Big 10 - YOUR FIRST CHOICE - will want you." Also, the PR game that Neinas is doing increases the chances of Mizzou applying too early, forcing any SEC fence-sitters to use "feeling pressured/rushed" as an excuse. With Neinas pulling stuff like this I don't expect he'll be visiting Columbia anytime soon ...

UofA72
UofA72

The more conference games, the more important depth becomes, especially in the SEC.

JTG
JTG

The 9 game schedule will happen, if for no other reason than it increases the inventory of quality games. Those extra 7 games that come by going to a 9-game SEC schedule have value, and that only increases with time and the next TV contract. Clearly it seems the league is on its way to its own network. Money will talk and guide this decision to maximize that value by going to 9 games. The fact it also solves the UT/Bama-AU/Bama dilemma which comes by moving Auburn to the East is just the cherry on top.

Chris R
Chris R

I am in favor of the 9 game conference schedule if they go to 14 teams. 3 out of conference games is enough to maintain any out of conference rival games and still schedule two patsies if you want. What I prefer is one Good opponent, one average and one weaker. Tennessee use to do this very well but seems to have gotten a bit away from it. However if you look at some of the games coming up in the future there are plenty to look forward to.

Glenn
Glenn

I'm starting to think 14 teams is the sweet spot ......with a nine game schedule . You give everyone a rival game outside your division and then play 2 of the 6 left outside the division every 3 years . You still get to see everyone enough to where it doesn't really feel to watered down and it makes the divisions feel separate enough to where I think the conference title game will actually be more interesting . I even like the idea of having a team added to the west and moving Auburn to the east . The only thing sacrificed is the Tennessee , Alabama annual game and even though its a good rivalry game and I don't think it is important enough to be a deal breaker . I hope Missouri is the 14th team . The could be our conference outpost or something .....then stop expansion right there .

tradeassociation
tradeassociation

Off topic (not really) but Vahe Gregorian of the Saint Louis Post-Dispatch has an article up titled "Neinas says TCU solidifies Big 12" where he basically claims that Neinas is posturing on the Missouri won't go to the SEC before 2013" thing.

Gregorian writes:

"And to hear Neinas tell it, MU will be chewing on it for a time to come despite an undercurrent in Columbia that a decision will be known by next week.

"If Missouri were going to change horses, it wouldn't be for 2012, anyway," he said in a teleconference.

It's unclear what Neinas based that on, but it may be linked to exit fee considerations and posturing."

The whole "despite an undercurrent in Columbia that a decision will be known by next week" thing is what struck my eye. Wonder what he meant by that ... or if Gregorian would be willing/able to elaborate.

MLL
MLL

Anything less than a nine game schedule with 14 teams would result in revolving cross division matchups only 2 out of every 12 years if you have one permanent cross division rival. With 9 games, there is much more flexibility, but still would only play everyone 2 out of 10 years if 2 cross division rivals.

A good compromise to Auburn completely moving would be a rotation of Auburn and Missouri in the east for 2 out of every 4 years. It may seem complicated, but it actually is a great way to save all current rivalries other than 2 Auburn vs west division ones plus reestablish a few old rivalries. Even though Missouri would sometimes be in the east, they could still play Arkansas and TAMU every year. I worked out an 8 year rotation with everybody playing everybody else at least twice.

As a Vol fan from the early 80s, I would love to see Auburn/Tenn reestablished but no way should the Tenn/BAMA game be touched.

Great website.

JEH
JEH

John,
Could you handicap it for a Mizzou fan. If Missouri comes in for 2012 which is more likely:
Mizzou to East w/ 8 game schedule to preserve Bama/UT.
Mizzou to West w/ 9 game schedule to preserve Bama/UT.
It seems like early on we heard that Bama/Aub didn't really want to be split due to the possibility of a Iron Bowl rematch in SEC championship game. Is that still a consideration in any SEC discussions currently going on?
Thanks

SecFan
SecFan

A nine game schedule would obviously reduce the chances of a team going undefeated, that's just simple logic. It would also reduce the caliber of out-of-conference opponents being scheduled. Just more collateral damage of a greed-driven decision.

Daddyrich
Daddyrich

If and when Missouri joins, I think they would start to play 9 conference games and have 2 permanent cross-division rivals with one rotating. I was looking at how it may work and here is my best guess at permanent rivals for each team. In most cases, I based the matchups on who has played each other the most or proximity. This also assumes the Auburn would move to the east division.

Alabama vs Auburn & Tennessee
Arkansas vs Georgia & South Carolina
Auburn vs Alabama & Mississippi State
Florida vs LSU & Mississippi State
Georgia vs Arkansas & Texas A&M
Kentucky vs LSU & Missouri
LSU vs Florida & Kentucky
Mississippi vs Tennessee & Vanderbilt
Mississippi State vs Auburn & Florida
Missouri vs Kentucky & Vanderbilt
South Carolina vs Arkansas & Texas A&M
Tennessee vs Alabama & Mississippi
Texas A&M vs Georgia & South Carolina
Vanderbilt vs Mississippi & Missouri

AJW
AJW

just have bama/tenn or bama/auburn play a non conf/ conf game against eachother in the years 4 out of 6 years they don't meet in conf ..

that solves everything

atl14dat
atl14dat

Needs to be 9 Conference Games like yesterday.

I would even prefer 10 games to 8.

Especially with this move from most SEC schools to schedule the dregs for their Non Conference Game.

As a UT fan I didn't give a damn about the Win over Buffalo nor will I care one iota about the MTSU win. They mean absolutely nothing, other than allowing them to possibly finish 6-6 and go to another irrelevant Bowl Game.

Now that said most SEC schools do the same thing. Have no respect for any of it.

I wish when the BCS or the replacement system comes after the next new Contract in 2015 IIRC the first mandate should be 10 Conference Games for all Conferences to be included in the new system.

Would also help with Valued Inventory for the Coming SEC Network.

statesman
statesman

Mizzou would prefer being in the same division as A&M, or that A&M is their cross divisional rival. The tigers recruit Texas and need a Texas school on their schedule.

Rob
Rob

This is an interesting idea, but would Tennessee fans be satisfied with only having Florida or Georgia for their cross-division game? Not to mention that they wouldn't be playing Auburn, either, and that already has them unhappy. I think the gist of what you've done is to exchange Auburn and Tennessee from the current divisions, when it's probably better if they remain where they are today.

If we had one more team, we could try 3 five team pods, although I have no idea how that work out.

MIZ_SEC
MIZ_SEC

Permanent rivalry games:

Bama - Auburn
LSU - Florida
Arkansas - A&M
Tennessee - Georgia
Ole Miss - Miss St
Mizzou - Vandy
Kentucky - SC

MIZ_SEC
MIZ_SEC

You are thinking from a KC perspective. Certainly the drives from KC to any SEC away games, except for Arkansas, will be tough. But from a St. Louis (and CoMo) perspective, the East locations are just as close, if not closer, than the West locations.

GeoffDawg
GeoffDawg

I agree that MU / UT could set up to be a really good natural rivalry, even from all the way over in Kansas City, unless you're avaeragin 40mph, there's no way a drive to Knoxville takes you anywhere close to 18 hours.

Honestly, if the divisions broke out North/South instead of East/West, Mizzou would have a much easier time identifying rivals. UT, Vandy, Kentucky, Arkansas would all stand out. The drawback there would be that just like in the Big 12, the northern division would never have a chance of winning the conference.

Glenn
Glenn

That Tennessee - Missouri game could be your annual " rivalry" game . The more I look at it Missouri is a really good fit . Just move Auburn to the east . Missouri to the east is pretty silly . Even an non annual , one out of every three year Alabama - Tennessee game shouldn't be a deal breaker . I do get Alabama worrying about Auburn having better recruiting inroads but that shouldn't make to much of a difference . I'm a UGA grad and I can live with it . I am just really starting to think Missouri is a nice fit .......and if it doesn't work I still think it would be cooler if Auburn was in the SEC east . Anyhow the main part is for it all to really work there needs to be a 9 game schedule .

AllTideUp
AllTideUp

You'll have annual rivalries with a collection of teams from one of the divisions. It's only a question of which division it will be.

Rob
Rob

If Missouri's added to the west, I doubt that it would be paired with Tennessee, because the Vols already have multiple rivals. Kentucky is a possibility, but you make a good point about rivalries needing to get people excited and the best way to do that is to pair teams that are the most equal, which is pretty much the way it's done now. In that case, Missouri would probably be pared with either South Carolina or Auburn. However, if travel distances are an issue, then I could see Vandy or Kentucky chosen instead.

If Missouri goes to the east, then Arkansas seems like the obvious choice, because 1) travel distances will be a bigger concern in the east and Arkansas is the nearest school in the SEC-W and 2) it has great potential to become a good rival because Arkansas borders Missouri.

deltaboy
deltaboy

That puts too much firepower in the East [although it would create an easier path for my boys, the Razorbacks].

tradeassociation
tradeassociation

1. There are actually only a few significant rivalry games in the SEC that need to be protected. See above: the SEC was only playing 6 conference games a year not so long ago. So, beyond Alabama-Auburn, Alabama-Tennessee, Georgia-Florida, Georgia-Auburn, Georgia-Tennessee, Florida-Tennessee, Ole Miss-MSU ... I don't know of very many more, especially where the cross-division stuff is concerned. LSU-Florida has gotten heated lately, for instance, but before the SEC went to 12 teams, they didn't even play each other every year. So for all the fear from Alabama fans, the SEC rivalry games that really matter - like Alabama/Tennessee and Alabama/Auburn - will be rather easy to protect.

2. The SEC going to 9 conference games makes a lot of sense even when rivalries are excluded, because that would make it a lot easier for them to renegotiate their TV package. The networks have already said that merely adding A&M wouldn't be enough to justify significant changes to existing contracts. But adding Missouri and A&M, and adding an extra conference game ... the SEC would be drastically increasing the number of desirable games that they could offer. Right now, the SEC has 96 conference games to offer. But by adding Mizzou and A&M, they would have 126. Having 30 extra games to sell: that's huge, and the Pac-12 and the Big 12 both used the additional conference games to get their mega-deals. The ACC is expected to do the same. Even 14 teams at 8 games verses 9 ... that is 14 extra conference games to sell over the life of a 10 year deal: 140 games.

Plus, the SEC has to keep up with the market. With the Pac-12 and Big 12 setting the market at a 9 game standard, and the ACC soon to enter negotiations based on that standard, and the Big 10 doing the same in 2017 (and the only reason why they aren't doing it sooner is because their contract doesn't run out until then, which means that they have no financial incentive to) the SEC basically has in order to get a competitive TV deal. And waiting until they get to 16 teams ... that won't happen until 2017 when the Big 10 moves first, and by then the SEC hopes to be halfway through their new TV deal. But if they wait until 2017, or whenever they get to 16, without a new TV deal, everyone gets less money because of dividing revenue 14 ways instead of 12 while still on the same TV deal that was originally created for 12 teams. Sorry, the economics don't fit.

johnmrsec
johnmrsec

Jamie Thornton...

You must be much better connected than we are, because from where we sit... no such thing has been made "clear." The report from The Birmingham News said that the majority of schools wanted Missouri, but some were holding out for various reasons. Alabama -- reportedly -- does not want to lose its rivalry with Tennessee (or for Auburn to gain a recruiting advantage in Georgia or Florida). We've been told that Tennessee is also against putting Missouri in the West because it too wants to protect the Third Saturday in October game.

But there's been no real mention of Missouri going East by anyone of note within the conference. From the people we've spoken to, most believe it's 50/50 that Auburn moves or Mizzou goes East.

That's hardly "clear" one way or the other.

Thanks for reading the site,
John

Jamie Thornton
Jamie Thornton

would you like it if a conference started taking multiple schools out of your conference? I would hope the guy would care as commish of his conference.

johnmrsec
johnmrsec

tradeassociation...

I thought we linked to that article yesterday, but I could be wrong.

From speaking with Mizzou alums, there's some belief/hope that an announcement could come this weekend as the school celebrates its 100th Homecoming... a tradition MU claims to have started.

I wouldn't count on it, though.

John

johnmrsec
johnmrsec

JEH...

I think it's telling that Auburn's president commented publicly on the matter. Rather than dance around the question, he said his school would be A-OK with a move East. That kind of open answer is unusual.

We'll see, but I would bet -- based on my conversations with people around the league -- that Missouri will join the league and will land in the SEC West with Auburn moving East.

But we'll see. The 8 or 9 game thing is too close to call.

John

johnmrsec
johnmrsec

SecFan...

That didn't happen when the league went from 6 to 7 to 8 conference games... despite the odds. If the league is tough-enough, you don't have to go undefeated -- a la Florida in 2006 and LSU with two losses in 2007.

Thanks for reading,
John

hoboat
hoboat

I think you're letting Missouri off easy for entering the SEC. UK and Vandy? It would be great for basketball but that's letting them off easy in football.

russ
russ

Agree 100%, If you really want to start an SEC network for 3rd tear rights, and have some real clout at renegotiation. go with 10 game season. With the expanding inventory and the expanded quality I could see 25% increase in money not including the TAMU/MU additions. 50% with.

Rob
Rob

On second thought, t guess 3 pods doesn't fare too well for a conference championship game.

GeoffDawg
GeoffDawg

Ha...interesting lineup. How'd you end up giving yourself Vandy?

MIZ_SEC
MIZ_SEC

Big 12 showed how inefficient North/South divisions are for parity and recruiting. If the SEC went away from East/West, maybe they should consider more random divisions like in Big Ten and ACC to balance the powers, maintain rivalries, but also keep a focus on geographic proximity.

Jamie Thornton
Jamie Thornton

Sorry John. YOu're the first source i've heard that says Mizzou now has a chance to move into the west. The SEC presidents have made it clear that they're not going to move away from tradition for expansion. As even you pointed out, the Tennessee and Alabama will block mizzou if they don't move into the east. WHile we're not sure the reason of the other two schools who have said no are, we have a good idea. They don't want to rush this and it also came out that they want an eastern school. Well how do you compromise this? Take the school all the other sec schools want and put them in the east. If Mizzou has some problem with this(why should they. They're the one that wants in the sec) you can move on. I'm going to put my savings account on the fact Auburn and Alabama will still be in the same division at the end of the day.

tradeassociation
tradeassociation

John:

The Vahe Gregorian article that I yesterday saw was "Mizzou, TCU see Big 12 differently." But if I missed the link ... I am sorry. I just saw it in Google News this mid-morning, and got all excited when I saw Gregorian mention the "currents of an announcement next week" thing. I agree that they wouldn't announce it this weekend at homecoming because there would be nothing to announce until the SEC formally votes to unconditionally accept them, and (unless they are moving stealth like Pitt and Syracuse) Mizzou hasn't even applied yet! So, maybe Gregorian is referencing rumors that Missouri is going to formally apply to the SEC (or at least formally ask Neinas for exit procedures from the Big 12 like A&M did). I can still hope ...

AllTideUp
AllTideUp

I agree John, but it is yet to be seen whether a 1-loss SEC team would go to the BCS title game if there were 2 other undefeated teams from other BCS conferences. We don't know if say Stanford and Wisconsin go undefeated this year that they won't jump a 1 loss SEC team to go to the BCS title game. It's a lot of hypothetical thinking, but I do think it is a legitimate concern.

AllTideUp
AllTideUp

I know 10 games sounds like a shredder to run through, but it's actually more fair than 9 games. If you are going to go to 9 then most teams will have 4 home conference games in a season with 5 road conference games. Of course, it flip flops every year, but it would still be more fair to have 5 home and 5 road every single year.

deltaboy
deltaboy

In my opinion, most SEC fans [mostly southerners] value such things as tradition, clarity & geographic logic. The concept of artificial [non-geographic] divisions of conferences is confusing nonsense inflicted on college football by the Big 10 & the ACC after Boston College joined. I'm convinced it's a "Yankee concept" & a bad one at that!

GeoffDawg
GeoffDawg

Mizziou v. SC could be the battle for the Columbia Cup.

UofA72
UofA72

Of any teams with the remotest possibliltiy of coming in on the west. Missouri makes the most sense. Sooner or later the SEC will go to 16, then two can be taken on the east. Hopefully FSU will be one of them. Using this sites bloggers as a statistical sample, most do want Missouri while the timing is right. The only area with a predominant anti-Missouri sentiment seems to be Alabama, and that's two bloggers.

I don't have this "smack talking" stuff figured out yet, but being a Yankee used to be a geographical distinction. Apparently it is now based on a persons opinion of conference rivalries?

deltaboy
deltaboy

Boy have you got a lot to learn! Most of us don't want Missouri anyway & then you come on here thinking & talking like a Yankee! The SEC is the best athletic conference in the country. We don't need gimmicks or funky uniforms & we durn sure don't need SQUIRRELLY ARTIFICIAL DIVISIONS! I was just starting to warm up to the idea of Missouri, but now I think I'll go back to pining for Florida State.

MIZ-SEC
MIZ-SEC

LOL, I guess it just worked out that way after combining the traditional rivalries and then focusing on what made more sense for the leftover schools. You could also do Mizzou-SC and Kentucky-Vandy instead.

Rob
Rob

I like this idea. It would be nice to keep everything more localized, but sending Auburn to the SEC-E just seems like a bad idea to me.

johnmrsec
johnmrsec

Jamie Thornton...

Not sure where you're getting those comments from. I see people talking about tradition, but I've yet to see anyone say Missouri to the East. But for that matter, the SEC also said it wasn't interested in expanding.

I've been told that the current debate is Auburn-East and Missouri-West OR Missouri-East and everyone stays put OR Missouri-Out and wait for a school from the east (preferably from the ACC). My own contacts and sources at different schools around the conference have differing views on what will/should happen... which tells me this issue isn't buttoned up.

My point -- we don't know what's going to happen until it happens.

Thanks again for being a regular reader,
John



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