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Could TV Negotiations Drive SEC To 9-Game Football Schedule?

Yesterday it was reported by The SportsBusiness Journal that the SEC is once again considering the launch of its own television network as part of its ongoing contract negotiations with ESPN.  It was also revealed the CBS is “balking” at making any significant increase in pay to the conference just because it’s added Missouri and Texas A&M in the past few months.

That’s all part of the negotiating process.  Not to be lost in all of this, however, is the possibility/likelihood that both CBS and ESPN would like to see the SEC adopt a nine-game schedule for football.  More “SEC versus SEC” inventory would be easier to sell for both networks than “SEC versus Jacksonville State” or “SEC versus Troy” type games.

The question is — how much is it worth to those networks?

If CBS, for example, says it won’t provide a significant bump in pay unless there are better games to choose from, that might encourage Mike Slive and the league’s presidents to overrule the conference’s athletic directors and football coaches next week in Destin… in what would be a very surprising move.  The same could be true if ESPN showed that having more SEC in-league games on the schedule would help gain a new SEC Network placement on more cable systems.  (For that very reason, ESPN is currently trying to land more Big 12 games on the schedule of the Longhorn Network it co-owns with Texas.)

The SEC is already working to improve the quality of its late-season schedule at the behest of its TV partners.  On the basketball front, one need only remember how the SEC yielded to ESPN over those Thursday-Saturday turnarounds that became quite controversial among fans and some coaches last winter.  Time and again Slive’s league has wisely shown a willingness to give and take when it comes to working happily with its big-spending television partners.

So if CBS and ESPN play hardball with the SEC while at the same time offering to open their wallets a bit wider in exchange for a nine-game conference slate, it’s at least possible that a nine-game schedule isn’t completely dead and buried just yet.

If those networks make it worth the league’s while.  Big if.



I think the SEC should play that card on a future lookin.  Timing is everything.


Here's the next question how would 9 games affect uga/uf and Jacksonville....if your UGA and the home team in Jacksonville and you 5 other road games...6 home games or only 5 depending where the matchup with tech is? Or fsu?


Capitalism can fix a lot of things.  If Team A has 8 conference games and 4 non-conference game, there are two different ways to go with the non-conference games - paycheck home games, rivalry games, and good for TV games.  If the non-conference TV games pay well, and teams get rewarded by collecting a large share for themselves, they will be incentivized to schedule good-paying non-conference games.  Likewise, if fans stay away from the creampuff games (pipe dream, I know - I really don't understand why you go to those), they would also be incentivized to schedule better.  Personally, I prefer less conference games.  It gives teams more freedom in scheduling and more opportunity for interregional games, to which I look forward.  There will be less of those in the new landscape which in turn means even less data with which to compare teams/conferences.


 @10Vol85 And you can charge higher prices for tickets to the better quality games as well.  At Alabama, the single game ticket prices for an SEC and a creampuff are different.  I've heard that is not the way everyone does it, but I'm sure the overall season ticket packages reflect the quality of the schedule.  Better games equals more demand and higher prices so that is another way to make up some of the revenue.


MrSec you use the Big10 vs Pac12 games as nine conference games for the Big10...what about teams like USC,Florida,UK,UGA that already play nine bcs teams per year? If the SEC goes to 9 conference games those teams will be playing 10 games vs bcs opponents per year...that will end any chance of those teams playing in the Chick Fil A kickoff or other neutral site games... So consider those 4 teams playing a bcs opponent Alabama vs Michigan, auburn vs Clemson, UT vs NC state that's atleast half the conference playing 9 bcs caliber teams just like the big ten

John at MrSEC
John at MrSEC moderator



LSU played 10 BCS-level foes last year and went undefeated right up to the point of their rematch with Alabama.


Pac-12 schools will play 9 conference games AND the additional yearly games with the Big Ten that were recently agreed to.  That's 10 BCS-level games for everyone in that league.  Southern Cal will continue to play Notre Dame which means 11 of the Trojans' 12 yearly contests will come against BCS-level opponents.


The teams you mentioned -- Carolina, Florida and Georgia all play ACC teams.  Those foes -- Clemson, FSU and Georgia Tech -- are currently scheduled to start playing nine league games per year meaning they would play 10 BCS-level games.


The added in-conference games in the Pac-12 aided that league in creating more valuable content for its television partners.  We suspect CBS and ESPN are making similar pushes with the SEC.  Especially seeing as how CBS is trying to play hardball with the league over its additions of Missouri and Texas A&M.


Which is why we wrote this piece.


Also, if the SEC is going to talk about being the toughest bully on the block -- and we believe the league, by the way -- then it shouldn't be scared to do what other conferences are doing schedule-wise.  The last time the SEC's coaches and fans feared the schedule had been made too tough -- with an 8-game docket AND a new championship game added in 1992 -- it kicked off a 20-year run that's seen the league capture 10 national titles (Bama in 92, 09 and 11; Florida in 96, 06 and 08; LSU in 03 and 07, Tennessee in 98, and Auburn in 10... plus another undefeated season in 04).  


Thanks for reading,



News flash! writes an article about the SEC going to nine games.  



John at MrSEC
John at MrSEC moderator



News flash!  Kaput complains about a fresh angle to a story the anonymous person doesn't have to read if he/she doesn't want to.




1. Slive is right to let the money do the talking.  2. Bowl games lose money for the schools.  3. TV makes money for the schools.  4. Home games = happy fans.  5. Cupcake vs. SEC team makes season ticket holder grumpy, TV Exec's grumpy but makes $$$ for School and local economy.  So the question is does 1+2+3+4+5 = more $$$ for School than losing one home game every other year minus the loss you get from travel to Toliet Bowl? 


The AD's and Coaches like the Bowl games because they have incentives in their contracts.  That is why they don't like the 9 game schedule.


This is what I've wondered all along.  By not settling on a schedule earlier this year and allowing these TV negotations to take place before a final decision is made, is Slive letting the Presidents and ADs come around to the correct long-term decision on their own?  How much more does a nine-game schedule generate for each school than an eight-game schedule...and is that enough to convince the Presidents and ADs to stop whining about missing out on a chance to play bowl games in Birmingham or Memphis?


LSU went undefeated against arguably the toughest regular season schedule anyone's ever played last year.


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