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USC’s Spurrier Needs To Stop Whining About Scheduling

Steve Spurrier is a helluva football coach.  He can be funny and entertaining to boot.

But he can also be a whiner.  And that’s exactly what he’s being when — like so many other South Carolina fans these days — he starts talking about changing the way the SEC handles its scheduling.

Yesterday, Andy Staples of SI.com quoted Spurrier regarding an idea the coach says he’ll present at this year’s SEC Meetings in Destin.  That idea is for only divisional games to count toward division championships.  Laughably, he tried to make his pitch without mentioning how his own school would have reached the title game under said plan last year.  Instead he tried to act as a benefactor for poor ol’ Florida and Tennessee:

“Your division champ should be decided on division games.  Last year, it wasn’t fair for Tennessee and Florida.  They both played LSU and Alabama.  Us and Georgia didn’t.  So, us or Georgia almost had to win the division simply because of schedule.”

Uh-huh.

Let’s look around the country and see who else might use Spurrier’s plan?  The NFL?  Nope, games outside the division and even conference still count.  Ditto the NBA.  Baseball?  Yep, they count non-division games, too.  So does the NHL.  Throw in the other college conferences, too.

Schedules are never fair.  That’s the first rule that every sports fan must accept (not to mention coaches).  Over time you hope things all come out in the wash, so to speak.  That they even out.

But in a given year, one team might have an easier home schedule than another.  One might play a tougher road schedule.  One might have tougher teams from the other division on their docket.  One might just enjoy the cupcakes from the league’s other side.  One team might face Squad X with their Heisman candidate in good health.  Another might face the same team after its star player has been injured or dismissed from the team.

Them’s the breaks.

What’s so disappointing is not just the self-serving nature of Spurrier’s take.  Coaches and fans will always find a way to explain away losses.  If it ain’t the schedule, it’s the refs.  Or the sun got in their eyes.  Heck, in January one USC trustee suggested the SEC actually start awarding points for victories — one point for a division-win, half-a-point for a non-division-win.  “Let’s come up with anything that would have gotten Carolina past Georgia into last year’s SEC title game!”

No, what’s so disappointing is the shortsightedness of this proposal.  Let’s say Spurrier’s plan were put into place.  Now let’s say that in the year 2015, for example, Carolina went 4-2 inside its division but 2-0 outside it (against the best two teams in the West, no less).  Now let’s say that Georgia went 5-1 in division play — including a loss to Carolina — but finished 0-2 against the West.

Carolina would be 6-2 overall and would have beaten Georgia head-to-head.  Georgia would be 5-3 overall and would have lost to Carolina.

Ah, but Georgia would be East Division champs based on its 5-1 division record as compared to South Carolina’s 4-2 division mark.

You know what would happen then, right?  Spurrier and the USC board of the trustees and everyone else from Beaufort to Ninety Six would be screaming that the team with the better overall record should go to the SEC Championship Game.

As Staples correctly points out, if Carolina had just beaten an 8-5 Auburn squad on its own home turf last fall the Cocks would have reached Atlanta as East champs.  But they didn’t… so they didn’t.

Spurrier joked that his proposal “probably won’t pass because I made it.”

No, it won’t pass because it’s a bad idea, a shortsighted idea, and an idea that no other major sports league uses.

That’s why it won’t pass.

Spurrier needs to stick to football and leave the scheduling to the league office and the whining to babies.  He’s turned Carolina into a winner not by making excuses and rigging schedules but via hard work and smarts.  He needs to stick to that plan.

 


23 comments
Tim
Tim

Umm if people should just ignor unfairness in sports, then why does everyone complain so much about the BCS Championship game and why are we considering changing the format to a playoff?  I'm not saying that Spurrier's idea is a great one or that it isn't self-serving, but you have to admit that the best East team did not play in the SEC Championship last season and that is at least something to think about. 

John at MrSEC
John at MrSEC moderator

Tim...

 

Folks can continue to spin, twist and bend the facts of what I wrote, but this is NOT about "unfairness in sports" or "unfairness in America" or "unfairness in the universe."  It's about "unfairness" in scheduling.  And there is NO way to create a truly balanced, fair schedule.  Theoretically that would require all teams to face the exact same teams as all their rivals... on the exact same day and time... with the exact same injury/discipline issues, etc.  That cannot be achieved.

 

Example: Some teams will get Alabama on the road this year.  Some will get them at home.  Unless everyone gets them at home -- or on the road -- that's unfair.

 

And, sorry, but I think Georgia was the best team in the SEC East last year.  They went 7-1 in the league and barely lost to Carolina on a number of oddball returns and turnovers.  South Carolina went 6-2 in the SEC and -- more importantly -- lost to a so-so Auburn squad at home or else they would have gone to Atlanta.  Forget Arkansas, beat an 8-5 Auburn team and USC's East Division co-champs with an SEC title game trip lined up.

 

Interestingly, no other fanbase in the SEC has put forth this kind of silliness with this kind of volume since we've launched this site.  I find that amazing, because passionate SEC fans can find a conspiracy in everything... and most would bend or break any rule or change to end any tradition if it meant their team could scrape out an extra win.  Yet this has never, ever become an issue.  Not even from Spurrier when the same situation might have benefited -- or hurt him -- in the past.

 

But I'll go back to two things mentioned in the above post:

 

 

1.  If the roles were reversed and Carolina had reached Atlanta thanks to Georgia losing two games against the West, Spurrier would be silent right now and you would not be posting these comments here.  (And judging from past history, no Georgia fans would be bringing this kind of "whine" from the cellar either.)  So is this about "unfairness in sports" or is this about creating a new way for college and pro conferences/leagues to tally division-winners just to benefit Carolina in 2011?  I think the answer to that is clear.

 

2.  If Spurrier's format were put in place for next season and Carolina went 5-1 with a loss to Georgia and two wins versus the West to go 7-1... and if Georgia also finished 5-1 in the East -- with that tie-breaking win over Carolina -- but they LOST their two West Division games... Carolina fans and Spurrier would be squawking that a 7-1 team shouldn't be kept at home while a 5-3 team went to Atlanta.  Whether you'll admit that or not, you know deep down in your heart that that's the long and short of it.

 

In my view -- and in the view of just about everyone not associated with South Carolina football --  those factors render Carolina's argument moot.  After all, if it's such a good plan, why is it being met with laughs, scoffs and eye-rolls by fans and media outside The Palmetto State?  Is it just that the whole world loooooves Georgia?  Or do we all haaaaaate Carolina and Spurrier?  Unless you subscribe to one of those two conspiracy theories, then the answer seems to be that it's just a plain goofy idea and there's a reason no other sport has adopted it.

 

(And for the record, I've got an autographed Spurrier photo in my office and South Carolina has become my own personal favorite state in the Union.  If I could move to Charleston, I'd be there tonight.  So the "haaaaaate" thing won't work on me.)

 

Thanks for reading the site,

John

Tim
Tim

 @John at MrSEC

 Well I never said his plan was a good one (I said as much in my original post and I think it would be a bad idea to completely disregard cross division games) and I wasn't specifically trying to single you out and say you hate SC or Spurrier.  However, you and most of the people replying have commented on the fact that sometimes sports (scheduling is a part of sports) are just unfair.  I was saying that yes they are but we don't always ignore that, as in the case of the BCS Championship game.  Most people didn't claim Oklahoma State was just whining about not making it and they had an arguably less compelling argument than Steve Spurrier does but just as self-serving.

 

Furthermore, I think SC was definitely better than Georgia.  Against every single East opponent, SC had a wider margin of victory, not to mention beating them head-to-head.  They had one particularly bad game against a decent opponent and it ruined their chance at the SEC title.

 

To sum up, I don't really agree with Spurrier's idea although I understand the idea behind them and also find it troubling.  Furthermore, people seem to whining a lot harder about Spurrier saying this than he was about the unfairness of it all.

CBK
CBK

Why do you care John?  

John at MrSEC
John at MrSEC moderator

CBK...

 

I cover the SEC.  One of the league's most successful football coaches has put forth a nonsense idea that is totally self-serving.  I think that deserves a mention like any other SEC news story.

 

Why has it made national news and why did the commissioner care enough to comment?

 

Thanks for reading the site,

John

freestate
freestate

I would just like to add that you could use that photo in schools to teach abstenence.

stevae
stevae

"Schedules are never fair. That’s the first rule that every sports fan must accept (not to mention coaches). "

 

so when we acknowledge something is not fair, the best plan of action is to do nothing? that's your logic? so we should never have changed the laws for civil rights? or maybe we should just stick medical research on a shelf, because the first rule of life is it is not fair, and so if you get cancer, tough? no, no, no!!! this is america, you imbecile. and in this country we try to fix what is wrong. we try to improve what is unfair. only morons like you admit something is badly wrong or unfair, and then defend not trying to fix it, because everybody else is doing it. what kind of infantile argument is that? coach spurrier is a legendary coach, a hall of famer and one of the greatest football minds to ever take part in the sport at any level. you, on the other hand, are what? some loser writing on a site that no one has ever heard of? what exactly have you accomplished in your life, that gives you any credibility to criticize steve spurrier? yeah, that's what i thought... you should stick to your day job. i'm sure circle k needs you more than college football.

 

John at MrSEC
John at MrSEC moderator

stevae...

 

Excellent comparison.  Civil rights to football schedules.

 

Here's what I'd do for civil rights:  Everyone can vote.  Everyone can earn an equal wage.  Everyone can own land.

 

That was easy.

 

Now for football:  Everyone plays the same teams in the same week.  

 

Oh, wait.  That's an impossibility.  So there's no way to actually make schedules truly fair.  Period.  Unless everyone plays everyone else AND on the same day, mind you, there's no way to make schedules equal.  Never has been.  Never will be.  And as far as I can tell after four years of doing this site, the first people to cry over the SEC's divisional plan and unfair schedule are Carolina fans this season.

 

But that's what you are... a crier.  And criers always think their team gets fewer breaks.

 

If another coach had made this suggestion in order to help his school get past CAROLINA... you'd be firing holes in the very same plan left and right.  Instead of claiming that that coach was somehow trying to fix what's wrong with America.

 

On a sidenote, let me turn your question around on you for second.  What exactly have you accomplished in your life that gives you any credibility to criticize me?  When you pick up 7 Emmy Awards and your invited to do television and radio hits across the Southeast each week including on a network that gets into 14 states, feel free to get back to me.  Or when you've had millions of people visit a site you write for daily, I'll credit you on that one, too.  

 

But for now it seems your only qualification is the fact that I choose to provide you with a comment box on my site which you can use to try and abuse me because your simple mind can't wrap itself around complex issues.

 

John

guesta1234567890
guesta1234567890

In his classic way, Spurrier is just taking a dig at Michael Slive for the intra division scheduling. The OBC is krafty that way. He's subtly making the point to the SEC brass that they got to give their potential champions head to head games against the big boys in the opposite division, something that didn't happen last year, and likely won't happen this year. 

Spurriers Visor
Spurriers Visor

What's so funny is Pennington whining about Steve Spurrier whining....

John at MrSEC
John at MrSEC moderator

Spurriers Visor...

 

First, there should be an apostrophe in the "Spurrier's" part of your name.

 

Second, I'm not whining about Spurrier's whining.  I'm flat out attacking it as being childish and silly.

 

Thanks for reading,

John

Spurriers Visor
Spurriers Visor

 @John at MrSEC This site doesn't allow certain "characters" in signing up for commenting as a "guest", but thanks for your concern...

 

Your 2nd sentence is a debate on semantics, which is the folly of fools. So have at it...

 

 

Thanks for responding,

 

Spurrier's Visor

XIlarf
XIlarf

Simple fix for this, though - just add a rule that if you are undefeated in your division you win the division regardless of the of your record against other teams.  It's logical, sensible, and requires no other changes.  If no one in you division could beat you, you are the best in the division.  If no one is undefeated in their division then use the existing rules to determine the division winner.

 

All you fans of other SEC teams (both East and West) imagine how it would feel next year (or the year after, or the year after that...) if your team went undefeated in their division but did not win the division - you would likely be looking for a change also. 

John at MrSEC
John at MrSEC moderator

XIIarf...

 

But that can and does happen in every other league we mentioned in the story.  Each team plays 8 conference games.  Either those games should count or they shouldn't.  And if they don't, then why play them?

 

Thanks for reading,John 

XIlarf
XIlarf

 @John at MrSEC They would and do count.  Non-divisional conference games count towards rankings and towards division championships unless (in my scenario) one team is undefeated in their division.  There's too much variance in the strength of non-divisional conference teams from year to year and schedule to changing schedule.

 

 The "luck of the draw" shouldn't be as large a part of the equation as it currently is, IMO.  Teams rise and fall, divisions rise and fall.  Just because you rotate through your non-divisional conference opponents over a period of many years doesn't mean when your team finally play team "X" from the other division that team "X" will be as weak or as strong as they were the years your divisional opponents played them.  

 

Instead of being happy when team "X" is down and you get to play them, and team "X" is up but you don't have to play them, and marking it all down to "luck" or "the breaks" why not be willing to explore ways to make these awkward 7 team divisions more equitable and less prone to the whims of lady chance?

XIlarf
XIlarf

 @John at MrSEC No need to drag this out forever, I won't debate this any more after this post.  I will point out that college football is not like pro football (which has playoffs, wild-cards, teams play division rivals twice per year, other conference teams rotate predictably, etc.) or baseball (has best-of 3/5/7 series, has multiple series against division rivals, many more games, has playoffs, etc.).  I wish you would quit pretending college football is just like pro football and baseball - it isn't.  

 

I made a very specific recommendation regarding when a team is UNDEFEATED in their division - your scenario does not qualify or pertain to my recommendation, nor did you address why a team that is undefeated in their division IN SEC COLLEGE FOOTBALL should not be the winner of their conference.

 

I really enjoy your site btw, just disagree with you at the moment.

John at MrSEC
John at MrSEC moderator

XIIarf...

 

What about when an 8-8 NFL team makes the playoffs as a division-winner while an 11-5 stays home?  What about a wild card team like the St. Louis Cardinals barely making the playoffs and then beating the teams with the best records over a 162-game schedule to capture the World Series?

 

The SEC's system is the same as everyone else's system.  All games count the same.  And I'll point out again that in the above scenario I tossed out, Caroilna fans would be hooting for a return to the old system just as soon as the shoe fell on the other foot.

 

Buck up, win your games, and capture a crown.

 

Just my take,

John

RB
RB

It's funny Spurrier brings it up when his Gamecocks have the best chance to beat their present cross division rival, Arkansas, in years.  You would think he would want that game to count, or is he still worried about a currently head coachless Razorback team playing at his place?

Spurriers Visor
Spurriers Visor

But USC also has to play defending SEC champion and national runner-up LSU this season.....it is conceivable that USC could beat Arkansas, once again go 5-0 in the SEC-East, and AGAIN fall second to UGA as SEC-East champions. All because UGA doesn't play Arkansas, LSU, or Alabama. And I think that's a good justification for Spurrier's comments...

ArkyOwl
ArkyOwl

I don't like Spurrier's suggestion but I would like the SEC to change it's scheduling formula.  In addition to the one permanent opponent from the other division (for rivalry's sake) rather than rotating the other teams year by year, I'd like them to adopt an NFL like schedule whereby the #1 team in the west plays the #1 team in the east the next year, with #2 vs. #2 and so on.  That would help take care of the unfair strength of schedule argument.

Bubba Gump
Bubba Gump

John, not on topic but comment on the new tab for the schools including TAMU and MU. TAMU is Maroon, not Crimson or Scarlet so I am guessing they should look more like MSU than Bama. For some reason the tabs are also hanging off the Left Margin instead of the Center like they used to - meaning sometimes I hit the Home button instead of the one for Bama. Don't know if the Arkansas and Auburn folks had the same issues, as they were in the same area as the Home button.



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