Still the 14 team SEC is no way to find a champion Why not divided the SEC into 2 Conferences of 10 teams each. I am sure 6 really good teams would move, at least teams as good as Kentucky & Tennessee in 2011. Then you get 9 games and could drop the Patsy teams from the FCS while dropping to an 11 game season with better games for the fans & alums. TV would go crazy with excitement. The 2 Champions could play then the winner goes to the National Championship Playoff and the other Champion goes to a New Years Day Sugar Bowl. Again the best of all worlds
If you’ve read MrSEC.com for anytime now, you know full well that we believe the SEC needs to go to a nine-game conference football schedule and that it eventually will do just that.
We’ve listed the reasons for such a move dozens of times:
1. Another SEC game means more value for ticket-buying fans.
2. The league’s television partners would prefer SEC versus SEC over SEC versus pansy any day of the week.
3. A nine-game slate allows the best of both worlds — three of the league’s oldest rivalries (Auburn-Georgia, Alabama-Tennessee, Ole Miss-Vanderbilt) would be saved and teams would continue to rotate two cross-divisional foes per year… meaning schools would play each other more often. (Again, that’s something TV execs would favor.)
4. A nine-game schedule would decrease the chances of a school like Georgia in 2011 missing all three of the best teams from the other division.
5. Such a plan would result in more inventory for a potential SEC television network down the road.
6. Fears of “we’ll play four home games while they play five” have been wildy overstated. The four/five, home/road advantage would flip every season. And there are inadequacies in the current system anyway. While everyone plays four home and four road games per year now, some play easier road schedules than others. That’s part of any schedule rotation, so the move to a four-this-year, five-next-year plan is not that big of a change.
7. Cries that schools might be forced to play just six home dates in a season are overblown as well. Before the NCAA moved to a 12-game football schedule in the past decade, schools often played six or seven home games rather than the current seven or eight. More importantly, the cash rolling in from CBS and ESPN — and that money which will go up with the addition of Missouri and Texas A&M would go up even further with more SEC versus SEC contests — easily covers the loss of one home date every other year. Easily.
8. Perhaps most importantly, the league would hurt itself rather than help itself by softening its schedule. Other leagues are making their schedules tougher. The Big 12 is playing a nine-game slate. The ACC will move to a nine-game plan when Syracuse and Pittsburgh enter that league. Big Ten and Pac-12 teams will begin playing on a yearly basis on top of their current in-conference schedules in 2017. The other major conferences are all guaranteeing themselves more BCS-level opponents per season. If the SEC sticks with an eight-game plan, all the anti-SEC’ers out there will finally have a reason to vote down the league in future polls. No longer will the SEC be a mini-NFL. Oh, coaches will tell you that eight SEC games are harder than nine BCS games in other leagues, but folks outside the South won’t buy it. You can be sure of that.
Quite simply, the only reason not to go to a nine-game slate is pure cowardice.
And cowardice is not a word traditionally associated with the Southeastern Conference. Mike Slive, it’s time to step up and lead.
Jon Solomon of The Birmingham News reports today that the SEC’s athletic directors — who will meet at both the women’s basketball tournament this week and the men’s tourney next week — will indeed discuss a nine-game plan. But there’s no real support for such a plan from the ADs or the league’s football coaches at the moment.
Tennessee athletic director Dave Hart — an Alabama grad and employee before joining the UT — is one of those ready to talk about a nine-game plan. Naturally, he wants to save the Alabama-Tennessee rivalry. And while some fans across the SEC don’t care that Tide-Vols is traditionally the league’s top game played between the two programs with the most SEC titles in history, Hart is right to fight for it.
“I think everything has to be on the table, including playing nine games, which I know terrifies some people when you say it. I do want to talk about nine games.”
Georgia’s Greg McGarity — who no doubt wants to protect the Auburn-UGA game which is the oldest rivalry in the Deep South — is also in favor of discussing a nine-game plan.
“Many SEC fans have a decision whether to come to our game, or sit at home in front of their 60-inch HDTV. Would they be more likely to come to a conference game as opposed to a guaranteed (nonconference) game? I’d probably say yes.”
Solomon goes onto run through the various views of many anti-nine-game ADs as well.
Unfortunately, those ADs should not be allowed to have the final say.
Mississippi State’s Scott Stricklin admits that he’s against a nine-game plan because it might keep State out of a bowl game. In other words, “We need a steady diet of creampuffs and cupcakes if we’re going to claim to be good.” This fall, State’s nonconference slate is as follows: Jackson State, Troy, South Alabama and Middle Tennessee State. In essence, MSU is already 4-0 and need only go 2-6 in the SEC — as it did last year — to reach a bowl.
Kentucky has mastered the art of the weak nonconference slate as well. Their recent rejuvenation under Rich Brooks was aided immensely by Louisville’s downturn and three lay-up nonconerence games per season.
Just last season, in order to protest bowl eligibility, Tennessee bought its way out of a game at North Carolina and replaced the Tar Heels with a home date against Buffalo.
Sporting karma took effect and kept the Vols from going bowling even with a win over a miserable Buffalo squad on their resume.
Slive has shown in the past that he has the ability to steer the league’s presidents in the right direction. When the coaches and ADs whined that they needed the ability to sign 37 players per season, Slive and his presidents unanimously overruled them and upped their league’s reputation nationally in the process.
When the coaches yelped over proposed multi-year scholarships, again it was Slive who convinced 3/4s of the league’s presidents to overrule their coaches and do what was right by the student-athlete. Again, the SEC’s reputation was aided.
Now, Slive must act again. This decision on scheduling is too big, too important, and worth way too much money to be left to coaches and athletic directors who have only their own self-interests at heart. This isn’t about individual schools, it’s about the league as a whole. And when the league rises, all the schools rise.
We’ve been down this road before in the Southeastern Conference. In 1992, then-commissioner Roy Kramer and the SEC presidents voted to expand their league by two, increase the number of conference games from seven to eight, and to add a first-of-its-kind championship game.
Coaches moaned that the league would never win another national crown. Proving the coaches’ inability to understand anything beyond the gridiron, Alabama won the national title in that very first year. Florida followed in 1996. Tennessee in ’98. LSU in ’03. And now the SEC is riding a six-title streak that’s unmatched in the history of college football. Hell, two SEC teams played one another for the crown last month.
But if Kramer had allowed his coaches and ADs to decide the league’s fate in 1992, you can bet your hindquarters that there would have been no expansion, no eighth conference game and no SEC title game.
As a result, the SEC would not have not have gained the “toughest league in America” reputation that it now holds. A reputation that has aided it repeatedly in the BCS era as team after team have landed in the national title game. Unfortunately, that biggest, baddest reputation can be lost.
Acting selfishly and acting cowardly can cause it to disappear.
It’s time for Slive and the SEC to step up just as all the other major leagues are stepping up.
A nine-game schedule is what’s best for the league and, as a result, that’s what will be best for every program in the league.
And if a nine-game slate can’t pass muster, then the league must petition the NCAA for a divisionless format that protects 99% of all the league’s most important and oldest rivalries.
Slive has been viewed by many as a visionary. To maintain that reputation, he must simply keep pace with the rest of the nation at this point.
He can’t afford nailbiting ADs influence by self-serving football coaches to make this call. He just can’t.