Georgia athletic director Greg McGarity opened up yesterday regarding the SEC’s soon-to-be sorted out football scheduling format. Unfortunately, he offered nothing new.
First, don’t expect the SEC to go to nine games in 2013:
“The general feeling is we want to stay with eight. But we have not sat down as a group of ADs to talk about 2012 and beyond. We just had to get 2012 solved to move forward. So who knows what 2013 through either a two-year or six-year rotation. But that’s what we’re going to meet to (talk about) and dedicate a whole day to (during the SEC’s women’s basketball tournament).”
The fears of a nine-game slate are the same — you can’t schedule as many patsies:
“Nine games, and Georgia Tech, that makes 10 games. If you ever wanted to schedule Clemson or Ohio State, like we have, then that only leaves one guarantee game. That’s a pretty tough schedule. Fans would love it. But I don’t know if your coaches or players (would). That’s strapping it up 11 of 12 weeks there. You have to have some time where some players play who never get a chance to be on the field.”
The ACC has announced that it will go to a nine-game conference slate when Pittsburgh and Syracuse begin league play. The Big Ten and Pac-12 will engage in a yearly conference-versus-conference agreement that will guarantee that both leagues’ teams will face at least nine BCS opponents per year. In addition, the ADs at Iowa and Michigan have already stated that facing nine BCS teams per season won’t lead them to end their annual series with Iowa State and Notre Dame, respectively.
In other words, only the SEC is scared of guaranteeing nine to 10 games per year against BCS competition.
Clearly, the goal of most SEC athletic directors is to keep more teams bowl eligible via laughable non-conference schedules. We find that to be embarrassing and we believe it will eventually bit the league right in the polls. But then again, it’s you the fan who gets to pay 50+ bucks a seat to watch Jackson State come to town… just so you can then travel to Memphis to watch your 6-6 SEC squad play in the Liberty Bowl against a Conference USA team. Fun, no?
Additionally, McGarity makes it clear that some of the league’s oldest, most-stories, most-important rivalries could still go away:
“I think if you ask Alabama and Tennessee, like us and Auburn, we’d like to retain the (permanent cross-divisional) games. But does that work? What do the other 10 schools think? Those four schools like having those games but there’s no other East-West match-up that has that piece of history to it. So I don’t (know) where that fits in.”
A history lesson for Mr. McGarity: Ole Miss and Vanderbilt have played 86 times. That’s one of the 10 most played rivalries in SEC history. If the SEC is about everyone being equal, then that rivalry means something, too.
Also, you can bet Missouri likes keeping its toes dipped in the deep recruiting waters of Texas thanks to its cross-divisional partnership with Texas A&M.
But in the end, Georgia’s AD is right about one thing:
“With 14 teams, not everybody will be happy. Some will have a problem with everything. But we’ll make decisions based on the best situation of the league.”
Well, there’s nothing better for the league than protecting the very thing that made it great — long-time, heated, tradition-rich rivalries.
The best way to do that is to go to a nine-game conference slate or somehow convince the NCAA to dump its requirements for conference championship games.