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USC Prez Talks Schedules Again; SEC Says Presidents Already Involved In Process; Looks Like 8-Games With Yearly Rotations

Over the weekend, South Carolina president Harris Pastides started talking again.  You remember Pastides.  He’s the SEC president who came forward last fall and announced that:

1.  The SEC would be going to a nine-game schedule.

2.  The office would help provide cash for schools to buy out future nonconference opponents to make room for the extra league game.

That was a heckuva lot of detail for someone to share without having been given some indication that that indeed was the plan… or something close to it.

But the league instead announced that it would create a one-year-only, hybrid eight-game schedule for 2012.  Since then, the league’s ADs have — most of them anyway — have run from the idea of a nine-game schedule like the citizens of Tokyo from Godzilla.  Most want no part of such a tough slate of games — they want extra nonconference patsies to insure their bowl eligibility each year — and they want cool cash money.  Even though the majority of schools only began playing up to eight home games per year in the past decade, the ADs now say they can’t afford to give up that revenue.  (“Please ignore the $20 million+ we now receive from television, chuckle, chuckle.”)

Last Wednesday, the league’s athletic directors met in Nashville to discuss a new scheduling format for the SEC.  They will do so again in New Orleans this week during the SEC Tournament.

Now, Pastides has opened up a bit about what was said in the Music City.  He told Columbia’s The State that South Carolina will give up Arkansas as its permanent opponent in favor of Texas A&M.  The reason: Missouri and Arkansas will become permanent rivals.

Oddly, Pastides used an online poll conducted by that local newspaper to help sway him to go along with the Arkansas for A&M swap.  “That probably confirms the deal quite frankly,” Pastides said.

“We (the presidents) were told the athletic directors were in favor of a change for Arkansas to be Missouri’s permanent opponent and for us to get Texas A&M.  I said, ‘Hold on a second.  That’s a big decision, and I’d like to hear what the fans think about that.’  They were kind of motivated to get it done and move on, and I said, ‘I think it’s premature.  I need to go back to Columbia and see what people think about that.’”

Gamecock fans spoke.  They preferred A&M.  And Pastides said the presidents will vote on the matter after the SEC tourney and not wait for this year’s SEC Meetings in Destin which — quite frankly — is a surprise to us here at

So, if we’re to trust Pastides’ information this time around, we’ve learned:

1.  The ADs came to an agreement pretty quickly on how to handle the new schedule.

2.  Missouri is going to gain a border rival with Arkansas but lose its recruiting foothold in Texas.  This flies in the face of just about everything we’ve heard emanating from the Show-Me-State.  Gary Pinkel has rebuilt the Mizzou program by establishing a recruiting pipeline into the Lone Star State.  Under the new plan, he would no longer be able to tell Texas recruits on the fact that their folks could see them play in-state every other year.

3.  A&M — for some reason — is viewed by South Carolina fans as a more exciting fit on their schedule than Arkansas was.  “I think we can develop a wonderful rivalry with Texas A&M,” Pastides said.  The two schools have never met.  Columbia is 913 miles from Fayetteville.  Columbia is 1,069 miles from College Station.  Alright.

4.  Steve Spurrier must be a happy camper.  While he initially was one of the few coaches to downplay the SEC’s entry into Texas saying his program didn’t recruit there very often, he’ll now have a big advantage over his other East Division rivals who’ll want to tap into that recruiting zone.  Mizzou’s loss will be Carolina’s gain as the Cocks can now tell Lone Star recruits that they’ll play in their own home state every other season.

5.  Permanent rivals are here to stay, it appears.  We consider this to be a plus because the SEC could not afford to give up its oldest, most historic rivalries.  The SEC has gained an advantage over other leagues for two reasons — fan passion (the chicken) and fertile recruiting lands (the egg).  Mega-TV deals would never have been inked had the league not already become a national leader in viewership.  That fan passion is built upon traditional rivalries such as Alabama-Tennessee and Auburn-Georgia.

6.  Since no other ADs, presidents or chancellors are conducting fan polls, it appears that the other permanent rivals will remain untouched, leaving us with these seven yearly, cross-divisional rivalries: Alabama-Tennessee, Arkansas-Missouri, Auburn-Georgia, Florida-LSU, Kentucky-Mississippi State, Ole Miss-Vanderbilt, and South Carolina-Texas A&M.

Here’s another interesting note from The State’s Josh Kendall from the same piece:

“Arkansas is on the 2012 schedule but will go off in 2013 and become one of six Western Division teams (along with Alabama, Auburn, LSU, Ole Miss and Mississippi State) that will rotate on and off the schedule on a yearly basis.”

On a yearly basis.  Not at two-year intervals as is currently the case, but yearly.  Now, did Kendall choose his words carefully there?  We must assume so.  Did he get that information from Pastides and is Pastides sharing good information this time around?  Again, we must assume so.

If this is indeed the case, then the league will continue forward with its eight-game schedule while the rest of the world toughens their own schedules with additional guaranteed games against BCS foes.  You know our feelings on that one.  We believe being the only league which guarantees eight BCS foes per team per season will eventually damage the league’s reputation and, therefore, the league as a whole.

But the eight-game solution it sounds like Kendall and Pastides discussed was an option we tossed out last fall — rotating cross-divisional foes once per year, rather once per two years.

The SEC’s television partners would not want games like Alabama-Florida — for example — to be played just twice every 12 years.  If the league goes to the plan discussed above, each team will face every other cross-divisional foe once every six years.  That’s the takeaway.  The giveaway?  Six cross-divisional foes will still only visit an opposing campus once every 12 years.

Instead of — for example — LSU getting Georgia for a home game and then a road game in back to back seasons, the Tigers would host the Bulldogs one year and then visit them six years down the pike.

Well, that beats playing twice-in-a-row with 10 years in between meetings.

We reached out to SEC associate commissioner and PR guru Charles Bloom for some clarification on whether or not the ADs would be allowed to make the final call on scheduling without a last-minute push — perhaps — from Mike Slive at the league meetings in Destin.  It was our belief and hope that Slive would gather the league’s presidents and once again override the SEC’s coaches and ADs (who are in many ways motivated by self-interest) in order to push the greater good of a nine-game schedule for the entire conference.

Here’s what Bloom had to say regarding Slive and the presidents getting involved in Destin:

“The SEC Presidents and Chancellors work hand-in-hand with our athletic directors with respect to athletic policy and competitive questions.”

Our take on that: The heads of state are being kept abreast of the situation by their ADs.  The coaches have their ADs’ ears.  The ADs have their presidents’ ears.  And Slive appears to be A-OK with his league sticking with whatever eight-game system his ADs design and his presidents support.

As for Pastides’ suggestion that a final presidential vote will be held soon after the SEC tourney, we asked Bloom today if a completed schedule might be revealed pre-Destin:

“Depends on what you mean by completed schedule… entire 2012 schedule, 2013 and beyond?  There is no formal timeline for a format announcement, so I cannot tell you a date on that.”

Obviously, the 2012 schedule has already been announced.  (Bloom — it should be noted — told us just weeks before that schedule was announced that the SEC typically did not release its full schedule until the spring.  He’s a PR guy and while we appreciate his answers, his comments — at least to this site — are usually as vague as can be.)

All that said, if Pastides is to be believed, here’s our take on things:

1.  The SEC will stick with an eight-game schedule and continue to use one permanent cross-divisional rival per school.

2.  The league will lessen the impact of that eight-game decision for the TV networks by rotating cross-divisional foes on and off schools’ schedules every year instead of every other year.  That means your team will play each cross-divisional foe once every six years, but you’ll have them come to town — or visit them — in every 12 year rotation.

3.  It appears that the SEC’s ADs will be allowed to make the final call on this matter with a rubber stamp vote from their presidents and Commissioner Slive.  That was not the case on the oversigning issue or the multi-year scholarship issue.  If Pastides is correct, CBS, ESPN and Slive will not step-in at Destin and cajole the league into adopting a nine-game league schedule.

We wonder if the SEC would have expanded to 12 teams, to an eight-game league schedule, and added an SEC Championship Game back in 1992 if Roy Kramer had simply turned things over to the league’s athletic directors.

4.  Those cheering a four nonconference-game schedule — which conceivably allows schools to continue to play “name” opponents on occasion — might not be cheering if the heads of state in college football decide to up the bowl eligibility requirement from six wins to seven, as has been discussed.  Then you’ll keep your eight league games and get a heavier dose of creampuffs, cupcakes and other assorted pastries on your school’s home slate.  Oh, and you’ll also get the joy of paying full price for tickets to watch those games.

5.  The ACC will use a nine-game schedule when it expands.  The Big 12 is currently using a nine-game plan.  The Big Ten and Pac-12 have agreed to a yearly team-versus-team scheduling plan that guarantees teams in both leagues will face at least nine BCS foes per season and in some cases 10.

Eventually, the SEC’s detractors — and they are legion at this point — will use this against the league when it comes to polling.  The polls have been good to the SEC since Kramer and the league’s presidents 20 years ago made it the toughest conference in America to win by adding more league games and a title bout.

LSU was voted into the national title game in 2007 with two losses.  That had never happened before.  This season, Alabama was granted a rematch with LSU in the BCS title game.  That had never happened before.

This new plan — if this is the new plan — will flip the schedule argument from being a positive for the SEC to being a negative for the SEC.

Oh, sure, we know.  You think that eight SEC games equal nine or 10 games in any other league.  Unfortunately, most of you reading don’t have a vote in the BCS system.

And at some point, an SEC school is going to lose its shot at a national title because voters will say: “Team X played nine league games and a BCS-level nonconference opponent… Team Y from the SEC only played eight league games and one BCS-level nonconference foe.  Advantage Team X with the harder schedule.”

It’s coming.  And for that reason, we still believe the SEC will eventually be forced — dragging and screaming it seems — to move to a nine-game schedule at some point.



Agree MrSEC is way off base on the 9 game conference schedule. As a fan i would rather bowl instead of playing USC. And does anyone really care what the ESPN talking heads say about SEC scheduling? When the ACC and BigMedia10 win consecutive NC's and start creating an advantage because of it then we'll be forced to reconsider. Until then MrSEC let it go - you're on the wrong side of this one.


I support the 9 game schedule. I'd much rather see Bama play 3 SEC East teams. Two cupcakes is plenty to open the season.  The other conferences are going to nine games and aren't exactly looking to add SEC team( outside of state rivals) to their schedule.  Its not the SEC's place to fund the Sunbelt, C-USA & MAC and the lower divisions athletic departments.


Missouri's history of finding talent (after those bypassed by UT, OU and A&M) from Texas and making them successful will have lasting impact, regardless of how many times Mizzou plays in the state.  And EVERY SEC game will be seen on TV there, whereas Big XII games were sometimes not televised. Plus, Missouri can always schedule non conference games/series with SMU, Houston, Rice and North Texas to keep a presence in Texas.  A game with A&M could still have some even w/o a permanent rival designation.  And then there's possible kick-off classic-type games in Dallas.  And bowls:  Cotton, and perhaps a future tie in with the SEC at games in Houston, San Antonio or El Paso.  Further, Mizzou is already developing recruiting pipeline to Florida (and plays two games there this year).


As long as some conferences don;t play 9 conference games OR worthless conferences like the one boise State is in does -- yet that doesn't compare to the grueling strech SEC teams go through -- then keep it at 8 games.  If 9 games every becomes universal then change it.


You know if Missouri wanted to keep a recruiting foothold in Texas, they might want to think about having there Arkansas game in Cowboys Stadium (similar to the Southwest classic).


That way, Arkansas still has a football game in Dallas, Missouri gets a foot in Texas soil, and A&M can play at College Station against the Razorbacks.


Over all sounds like a good thing.  I imagine South Carolina will like playing in Texas every other year for recruiting purposes.  And an Arkansas-Missouri match up just makes sense for a good rivalry.  Fayetteville is by far the closest school to Missouri.


A lot of baloney.  I would much rather continue to see games like LSU-Oregon, Georgia-Boise St, Alabama-Michigan.  Even Ole Miss is playing Texas out of conference.  These type games would go away with a 9 game league schedule. Mr. SEC is just too sensitive to what the other leagues say about the SEC.  They're always going to have criticisms (excuses) directed toward the SEC because they haven't found an answer to their problem of SEC dominance. You'll never please them, so why try?  The SEC has had too much fixing lately of a model that was never broken.  Don't make it worse by trying to please outsiders.    


The SEC only needs about three interesting games each week for ESPN and CBS. The other teams can play cupcakes and the networks won't care. An eight game schedule has benefits. For example, last year when Florida played Alabama both teams were undefeated. Two undefeated teams probably drew a lot more viewers than it would have if Florida had already lost an extra conference game. People probably watched the whole first half before they figured out that Florida wasn't very good. Better records draw more casual fans to watch TV games. Beefing up records on cupcakes makes teams more interesting when they finally play a tough game. I think the SEC can rearrange things to have some interesting games in weeks 1, 2 and 11.


People attending games may say they want more competitive games but I don't think they spend their money the way they talk. They are more likely to renew their season tickets to watch a team that wins games rather than a team that loses tough games. If Florida had just played SEC East teams and FSU last year and could have scheduled cupcakes for all other games UF would have finished the regular season 9-3. I think Gator fans would be spending more money on season tickets and merchandise this year. Instead UF finished the regular season 6-6 with ugly losses to Bama and LSU and fans were disgruntled.


Kentucky basketball is a good example. People pack their huge arena to watch non-competitive games against SEC teams.


*If they're staying at 8 games for the long term, then each team will play 3 home, 3 away in their division, and 1  home, 1 away against the other division.  All the West teams will have to host their permanent rivals and travel to their rotating rivals 1 year, then flip with the East the next.  Otherwise they won't be able to have a true rotation.


So in 2013, expect some permanent rivalries to be played on the same campus for a 2nd consecutive year in order to align everyone to the same home/away basis.



*As I said last week, I would still prefer the SEC mandate 2 quality non-conference games instead of adding a 9th SEC game, working with CBS/ESPN and penalizing a school with a cut in TV money if they fail to comply.  This adds 1 quality non-conference game to most schools' schedules, getting the TV benefits of a 9th conference game while allowing us to beat other conferences instead of each other.

We could try and get both the ACC and Big 12 to have each of their schools play an SEC school annually (with some East schools doubling up on ACC schools, and some West schools double up on Big 12 schools).  It would benefit the TV packages of all 3 conferences (4 SEC schools would still need to add a quality non-conference game to get to 2).


This is a good move for Mizzou and AK, both would be well served by the switch.  A&M, we dont care and just would assume to not have a rival as the only teams that make sense for a rivalry for us are AK and LSU.  No one in the east makes sense so we can take one for the team.





Here's a good reason to drop Arkansas and switch to Texas A&M.  Of the 20 meetings since 1992, Arkansas leads the series 13-7, thats SC losing almost 2/3rds of the games.


In all of these talks, I always look at the money and see where it can be made. The ACC expanded, added more inventory to the TV deals and will only make about $2million more per team. Why? Leverage - the TV networks have it, the ACC does not. It had already signed everything over to ESPN and had no to negotiate.  The SEC is in a similar position with the TV networks of having to really take what the Networks are willing to pay. Yes the SEC inventory is more valuable than the ACC inventory, but still you cannot have networks competing to drive up the value. So for now the SEC is going to keep the extra inventory in their pocket. In a few years the networks will come calling for more inventory because of the ratings the SEC games earn and because they will need inventory for the SEC cable network. Now the SEC will be in the position of power. The SEC has something the networks want to pay for, and depending on how the TV contracts are written, might actually be able to shop around the inventory to the highest bidder. Which means maximizing the TV rights, and more money. The SEC presidents and AD's will pass off the expanding conference schedule as bringing the conference together more often (which is hooey), just like they did in 2002 when they switched from 5-2-1 to 5-1-2. That switch happened because the networks wanted more high profile games, and rotating the major programs through the league created more high profile games. So relax, the 9 game schedule will happen, but it will happen on the SEC's terms and when they can maximize the money from the extra inventory. Which right now they would not.


John at MrSEC
John at MrSEC moderator



What you don't seem to grasp is that I could give a flip what other fans say.  I'm just telling you what the poll voters are going to say.  And when an SEC team gets left out of a BCS title game or Plus-One playoff because of strength of schedule issues, I'll be here to say "told ya so."




 @SilverKracker This is only remotely possible if Arky would be willing to play in KC at Arrowhead.  That said, I think Mizzou wants to play ALL conference games on campus.  This "presence in Texas" thing is overblown when every game is televised.  Plus, Mizzou can play SMU, Rice, Houston, North Texas...even Texas St. and UTSA when they are fully Div. 1.  I suspect that's what they were trying to do this coming season yet with many schools in flux with scheduling, it was probably not possible.  MU did have a series scheduled with SMU (or at least a return game in Columbia after playing 10 year ago); however, I believe SMU canceled it.


John at MrSEC
John at MrSEC moderator



Our take has zip to do with "sensitivity" to other conference's complaints.  We simply know how the system works -- polls and votes -- and how anti-SEC'ers will use a "weaker" schedule against the league to keep it out of future championship games.


You've been warned.




A quick example of what a schedule with the SEC playing every ACC and Big 12 team might look like:


Florida:  FSU, (national);

Georgia:  GT, WVU;

SC:  Clemson, NC State;

Tennessee: UNC, (national);

Vanderbilt: Wake Forest, Syracuse;

Kentucky: Virginia, (Louisville);

Missouri:Kansas, Oklahoma State


Auburn: VT, Pitt;

Alabama: Miami, (national);

MSU: KSU, Duke;

Ole Miss: Baylor, Boston College;

Arkansas: TCU, ISU;

LSU: Oklahoma, Maryland;

A&M: Texas, TT



Florida, Tennessee, and Alabama would be required to schedule a quality team from Notre Dame, BYU, or the Big Ten and Pac 12 conferences.  Kentucky would continue to schedule Louisville (who might join the Big 12 anyway).


Some of these matchups could certainly rotate after awhile, but I think this is a pretty solid menu for the SEC's TV contract (the SEC would get TV rights to whichever team was home, while the other conference would get the rights to the school that is away).


Missouri gets 2 Big 8 rivals; Arkie gets an old SWC rival; USC gets 2 old ACC rivals; A&M gets 2 in-state rivals.



 @dbracy007 Exactly....They are tired of getting smoked by the razorbacks every year when it counts....seriously believe this.


 @MiloMoon Sound logic, though history is littered with examples of people/institutions who waited to make a deal because they thought their position would strengthen over time.  The SEC blows away the competition in terms of TV ratings right now...while likely to continue, there are no guarantees that this trend would continue, and a variety of external factors could also impact the TV folks' willingness or ability to pay up.  I have no idea what they would be willing to pony up for the extra inventory now...all I hope is that the SEC folks bother to find out.

John at MrSEC
John at MrSEC moderator



Interesting that MU officials initially asked for A&M as their permanent rival... if "this presence in Texas thing is overblown."


Thanks for reading,


SEC Rules
SEC Rules

 @redhog If  you read their fan's comments from the poll, they come right out and say it.


  1. News | MrSEC says:

    [...] Georgia’s Greg McGarity was one of four SEC ADs to enter last week’s scheduling talks in Nashville hoping to save “permanent cross-divisional rivals” when the league adopts its new scheduling format.He told The Chattanooga Times Free Press that he feels better about the odds of Georgia-Auburn and Alabama-Tennessee being preserved:“I do feel better.  The tone of the conversations that everyone had sort of gave the impression that everyone had a sense, at least the majority had a sense, of liking the rivalry game with an opponent from the opposite division.  The tone led us to believe that this has a good opportunity moving forward…I think everything is still on the table.  We spent one full day on it, and I’m sure we’ll spend one full day on it in New Orleans once everybody’s had a week to think about it.”From what South Carolina president Harris Pastides says, it sounds like things are further along than McGarity wants to say. [...]

  2. [...] USC Prez Talks Schedules Again; SEC Says Presidents Already Involved In … Since then, the league's ADs have — most of them anyway — have run from the idea of a nine-game schedule like the citizens of Tokyo from Godzilla. Most want no part of such a tough slate of games — they want extra nonconference patsies to insure … Read more on MrSEC [...]

  3. [...] Couldn't tell you how much is certain yet, here are some articles about it back in Feb/Mar though: USC Prez Talks Schedules against SEC, Says Presidents Already Involved in Process New SEC Permanent Rivals, That's News to Mizzou Petrino Points Out that Arkansas-Mizzou Would [...]

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