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SEC Meetings Recap: The Spurrier Proposal

Heading into this week’s SEC Meetings, it was well known that Steve Spurrier’s out-of-the-box proposal to not count cross-division games in the league’s standings would be the controversy of Destin.  Not because it’s likely to become a reality, but because a) it involves Spurrier who always finds a way to make these get-togethers interesting and b) it’s so far outside of the darn box.

Indeed, it was an issue that media folks kept querying coaches about yesterday.  Judging by the responses, battle lines have been drawn up already and one side seems to have more support than the other:

 

Spurrier:  “I was thinking about the most fair conference I was ever in, the ACC, ’87, ’88, ’89.  I think we only had eight teams and everybody played each other, so it was very simple. Whoever had the best record was the league champion and so forth. Now with the mega conferences, everybody can’t play everybody and sometimes scheduling might be the reason somebody wins the division or even the conference championship… (If cross-division games weren’t counted) Now, maybe winning a division is kind of like winning a conference championship.”

 

LSU’s Les Miles:  “I want it to be fair.  I don’t want to lock in an Eastern-Western Division opponent that historically has won the conference and that those games make a difference in how you fare in the East and in the West.  You have to find the SEC champion the best way you can.  You have to find the West and East division champions without regard to a crossover game.  The best team in the West should play for the championship.  The best team in the East should play for the championship.  I think there’s a view of a loss in a crossover game that it could be detrimental and not allow the best team to come into the championship game.”

 

Vanderbilt’s James Franklin (who wasn’t as committed to the idea yesterday as he’d sounded earlier):  “It’s something we need to at least look at. I want to hear everyone’s opinions on it.”

 

Alabama’s Nick Saban:  “You’re going to minimize the importance of these cross-division games if you say they don’t count toward the championship.  Then we’re really not an SEC.  We’re really just an East and a West, so why would we even play the games?”

 

Florida’s Will Muschamp:  “It’s hard for me to say that I could lose to an Eastern Division team and have that Eastern Division team lose to two Western Division teams and go play for the SEC title.  That doesn’t make any sense to me. An SEC game should count as an SEC game.”

 

Mississippi State’s Dan Mullen:  “I hate doing anything to devalue those league games because every game you play in this league is so critical and it’s such a competitive game against tough teams that you’d hate to devalue that game.”

 

Georgia’s Mark Richt:  “If it gets changed, then good for him I guess this year.  I don’t know if he’d feel that way every year.  This year he’d probably feel good about it.  I don’t think it’s going to change.  I’ve always said for me personally tell me what the rules are at the beginning of the year and let’s go play by them. I’m used to what we do.  My mind’s ingrained that every game counts.  The reality is in our league play if you lose to somebody head to head or if you beat somebody head to head you’ve basically got a two game lead on that team.  So there is an advantage to that still.  It’s not like there is no advantage or difference.”

 

Commissioner Mike Slive:  “I think that will be brought to the table for athletic directors to think about.  It’s hard for me to think about a conference game that doesn’t count.”

 

We continue to point to one practical reason Spurrier’s proposal is likely doomed — it won’t be easy for the SEC to sell CBS and ESPN on carrying meaningless games while simultaneously asking them for more money.

 


35 comments
10Vol85
10Vol85

Alabama’s Nick Saban:  “You’re going to minimize the importance of these cross-division games if you say they don’t count toward the championship.  Then we’re really not an SEC.  We’re really just an East and a West, so why would we even play the games?”

 

Author:  "We continue to point to one practical reason Spurrier’s proposal is likely doomed — it won’t be easy for the SEC to sell CBS and ESPN on carrying meaningless games while simultaneously asking them for more money"

 

[Sarcasm] Then, I guess there's no need to play or televise the Alabama v. Michigan game - right?  I assume you will fall in to support the idea of counting all NCAA FBS games in conference standings, too.  After all, we want to protect the integrity of the regular season and have those games mean something - right?

MizzouFan
MizzouFan

Simple solution is the two teams with the best record in each division playoff one game. Those two play for SEC championship. How do you do this? Drop one scheduled regular season out of conference game. Play the DSChampionship on that last week's unscheduled date. This makes all SEC games count in RPI and gives the team with the loss to the traditionally very good program a chance to win the division outright.

WillieT
WillieT

Well, it's more difficult now but still doable. The SEC has 14 teams. With the championship game, two teams will play 13 games anyway so, why not

1. eliminate the divisions

2. eliminate the conference championship game

3. play a 13-game league schedule

 

Every team in the SEC plays every other team in the league.

 

No more playing creme-puffs to bolster the ole' win column.

 

No complaining that one team or another has an easier league schedule.

 

No more not wanting to play Florida as cross-divisional rival.

 

Mizzou still plays A&M and can continue recruiting in Texas.

 

True, the best league in the country would beat up upon itsself. In the end, if the champion of the SEC goes 13-0 against the likes of AL, AU, AK, FL, GA, UK, LSU, A&M, SC, TN, MU, UM, MSU, & VANDY then they will no doubt be in the Football Final Four, regardless of format.

 

Heck, go 10-3 and you'd still be having one hellofa season!

TheN8tureBoy
TheN8tureBoy

Mr. Spurrier, where was this sentiment about playing all members during your 10+ years in the Swamp?

GABirdDAWG
GABirdDAWG

Moobs and Miles are just whining

AllTideUp
AllTideUp

 @10Vol85 Alabama doesn't play Michigan every year.  Few teams play anyone else that isn't in their conference every single year.  The few exceptions are for rivalry games.  OOC games then do nothing more than count for national championship implications or provide an interesting exhibition that is watchable because it's so unique.  Half the value of these preseason match-ups are the fact that these teams are clean slates.  Would the same game be just AS valuable in week 10 if Bama was 9-1 and Michigan was 4-5?  No, it wouldn't. 

 

Would a mid-season game between 1-loss SEC teams(that aren't rivals) in separate divisions be AS valuable if it was nothing more than an OOC exhibition that would likely only have a small impact on the national title race?  No, it wouldn't.  The same dynamics would become true for all cross division SEC games under Spurrier's proposal.

 

Technically, there are no "meaningless" games, but there are certainly games that have more meaning than others.  If a game is meaningful in a conference title race, a national title race, and as a rivalry all at the same time then you've struck gold.  Most games aren't like that though.  Not all games are equal.  Most of the time you have to choose 1 of the 3 and that is usually that the game is meaningful in the conference title race.  Some games don't even qualify under any of those 3.  When Tennessee plays Coastal Carolina, how valuable do you think that game is?  The few fans that are actually interested will be lucky to find it on PPV.

 

Enacting Spurrier's proposal does nothing other than unnecessarily strip a certain level of value from games.  It is not even a matter of fairness as some would argue.  Spurrier's plan is no more fair than what we have now, it's just different.

SEC Fan
SEC Fan

 @WillieT & what are you going to do about in-state OOC rivalries like:  UGA/GT, UF/FSU, USC/Clemson?  Just throw those away?

10Vol85
10Vol85

 @TheN8tureBoy

 Florida would have won the division in one more year under his proposed plan, so it would have been good for Florida, too.

JohnVol
JohnVol

 @TheN8tureBoy He was talking about how great it was to play everyone in an eight team ACC. He states explicitly that you can't play all members in today's big conferences. He says it explicitly. During his ten years in the Swamp, the SEC had ten, then twelve members. Not eight.

 

Keep up.

10Vol85
10Vol85

 @AllTideUp

 Conversely, I could argue that Alabama vs. Troy would have more value if it counted in the SEC standings, though.

10Vol85
10Vol85

 @AllTideUp

These are good points.  My main argument with Saban and with the article, though, is the equation of meaningless in conference with absolute meaningless in general.  The use of hyperbole is overdone.  I will agree that there is less value for the reasons you state.  I will disagree with your last statement about fairness, however.

WillieT
WillieT

Well, I guess those would have to go.

My suggestion however is no less absurd than Mr Spurrier's. I wasn't considering traditional rivalries. I still cannot fathom seeing Bama play Tennessee every year and it count for nothing more than braggin' rights.

TheN8tureBoy
TheN8tureBoy

 @JohnVol My bad. He's been in the SEC for twenty years and we've never a schedule where you played every single team in one season. Oh wait, I'm right.

 

Keep up. (I'll await your reply with bated breath.)

AllTideUp
AllTideUp

 @10Vol85  These are fair points, but there's still a problem with doing it this way as well.

 

Conferences are meant to bring some semblance of order to college athletics.  Unlike pro sports there can be an indefinite and growing number of programs.  And generally, the potential success and the revenue of these programs can be drastically different as well.

 

In a national title race it would be utterly impossible to play everyone, but we do have OOC games to help compare teams from region to region.  The conferences help group teams together for the purpose of dwindling down the bad teams as well as forming a scheduling arrangement for traditional rivals that goes back to way before the modern college football game took shape.

 

If we only count division games towards the division winner then what we've really done is split each conference in half.  Why play teams from other divisions when it doesn't count towards your most important race?  And when a winner is determined from these 6 or 7 team conferences why would you need to play the winner of another 6 or 7 team conference?  Hasn't your team proven it is championship caliber and shouldn't there be some sort of entrance into the postseason based on that?  Why would the SEC need to play a conference championship game when it really isn't one unified conference anymore?

 

And even if you did play a postseason game beyond your 6 or 7 division mates what would be so special about the SEC West winner playing the SEC East winner?  Why not play one of the division winners from the B1G or the ACC or the PAC 12?  In reality, those division winners would have just as much in common with the divisions of the SEC.  It would be nice to schedule old rivals from the East on our slate, but the games would have no meaning beyond tradition.  That would be nice and all, but there would never be any reason to play any of the other teams.

 

Bama playing Troy would have meaning as far as the national title race, but there would be no need to include it in the conference standings. 

10Vol85
10Vol85

 @AllTideUp

Thanks.  I agree with most of your points but not your conclusion.  I agree that equitability is not the sole measure of a proposed change.  In the case of the standings, we'll just have to agree to disagree.  I think 6 games against common opponents is a better measure of teams than 8 games where 2 games are against uncommon opponents (even though in particular cases such as last year, a pair of teams may have another common opponent).

 

The Troy example was not meant to consider them as an SEC team.  It was meant as an analogy:  NCAA FBS games are to SEC games as SEC games are to division games.  (If the goal is to have more data with which to evaluate teams, why not include all FBS games in the SEC standings?)

 

And I would also submit that freeing the standings of the cross-divisional games could give you more latitude in how to schedule those games alleviating the problem with lost traditional rivalries.  Fact is that the way the standings are calculated would only have changed 5 participants out of 40 since 1992.

AllTideUp
AllTideUp

 @10Vol85  A game with Troy definitely would be more valuable if it meant something in the SEC race, but here's hoping that Troy never enters the SEC and that we won't have to deal with that.  One in-state rival is enough.

 

I do understand the point about only division games counting towards the division race, but there is no perfect system.  Any alignment we could come up with would have its flaws.  I don't think Spurrier's plan is more fair than what we have now because it gives the particular teams involved a disadvantage when it comes to demonstrating the true quality of the team.  There are fewer division games and so it becomes easier for a team to mess up, have a bad week, and get punished for it in the postseason.  The more games(or samples of a team's quality) you have to go by the more accurate the result in the end would be.

 

For example, last year Carolina lost to Auburn.  That same Auburn team got whipped by the very same UGA team that Carolina had beaten earlier in the year.  Carolina beat UGA head to head and that's significant, but it's still one game.  Carolina would have won the tie-breaker had the teams had an equal record, but they didn't have an equal record.  One could make the argument that UGA's schedule was easier and maybe it was, but there is no way to remove those sorts of inequities.  Each schedule presents its own set of inequities....home field advantage, weather, disparities in injuries, and the date on the schedule for a particular game...all these things can effect wins and losses. 

 

Was it fair a couple of years ago that Bama had to play 6 SEC opponents that had just come off of bye-weeks?  No.  All 3 of Bama's losses that year were to teams that had just had a bye-week, but that doesn't invalidate the results.  6 was an extreme number and it can be improved, but there's no way to schedule all the conference games for each team every year in such a way that there is unfair advantage to someone in a given situation.

 

I've heard some say that an imperfect system is no excuse for continuing to allow certain inequities that could otherwise be improved.  Well, the same could be said about all the other factors as well.  The home field advantage teams enjoy COULD be improved by making sure all games are played at neutral sites...weather COULD be eliminated as a factor by playing all games in a dome...injuries COULD be mitigated by scheduling games weeks apart and instead of having a football "season" we could have 1 game a month all year long.  I'm sure you could imagine creative ways to rectify other inequities, but does anyone really want to do any of those things?  I don't.  College football wouldn't be college football anymore.  Some things that aren't fair just need to be lived with because the alternative is even worse.  There are inequities in every system and some things just aren't worth fighting over.

 

For the record, I'm for 9 conference games so that disparities in the strength of schedule are less likely.

10Vol85
10Vol85

 @AllTideUp

 To expound regarding "fairness":  Every year (except 2003), the divisional represenative has been decided by rules set forth at the beginning of the season.  In this sense, it has (almost) always been "fair".  This is not the context in which Spurrier is making his point.  It is in the context of equitability.  That is, that every team has an equitable chance at winning the division based on the metric chosen to determine the division rep. 

JohnVol
JohnVol

 @TheN8tureBoy I just follow the mistakes. And our fam has had seats since we played in Stokely ;).

JohnVol
JohnVol

 @TheN8tureBoy Misinterpreted or you're incorrect? Haha. 27 isn't too old, now is it?

TheN8tureBoy
TheN8tureBoy

 @JohnVol Seriously, you misinterpreted my comments and have been trying like the devil to make yourself look smart. Just stop old man.

JohnVol
JohnVol

 @TheN8tureBoy Guess I am older than you. I just figured you were a mid-50's Boy Scout leader based on your arguments and tone. 

TheN8tureBoy
TheN8tureBoy

 @JohnVol My comprehension hasn't failed me. You missed my point in my original post and you've been trying to obscure that point ever since.

 

In our first soiree you boast of owning season tickets at TBA when it opened. I was under the age of one when it opened.

AllTideUp
AllTideUp

 @JohnVol In fairness, Spurrier is not saying this because the league has expanded.  He's saying this because his team lost out on a division title that it would have won last year if his proposal had been in place.  He first suggested it months ago and it was only in response to the on-field results, not a question about the size of the league.  It's mostly sour grapes.

 

Beyond that, the proposal still doesn't make sense.  There's no reason to play cross division SEC games if they don't count.  Playing the rivalry games would still be great and all, but none of the games would mean anything beyond that.

JohnVol
JohnVol

 @TheN8tureBoy "You can't keep up". That's your response when you realize your reading comprehension has failed you. 

 

I seriously doubt I'm older than you, bud.

JohnVol
JohnVol

 @TheN8tureBoy He didn't say he wanted to play a round robin! Read it again. This post is about how he only wants division games to count in the standings. And you've reproduced? Jesus.

TheN8tureBoy
TheN8tureBoy

 @JohnVol When Spurrier started in the SEC we had 10 teams and you played seven conference games. Then we jumped to 12 teams and eight conference games. Never in Spurrier's 20 year SEC tenure has the SEC had a true round robin format like Spurrier wishes we did.

 

Once again, my original point was wondering why Spurrier waited 20 years to complain about the "unfair" schedule.

 

Please, try and keep up.

JohnVol
JohnVol

 @TheN8tureBoy You didn't make a point. You're not right about anything. I will break this down for you one more time...

 

Spurrier is saying it now because we have 7 team divisions for the first time. Not six. And not a single conference of 8. Good Lord. 

 

He's doing so now because the league just expanded and now you could have six conference games in your own division. Instead of five, like it was the majority of time he was at Florida. 

 

Can you really not follow this?

TheN8tureBoy
TheN8tureBoy

I'm sorry JohnVol, I asserted that The Ole Ball Coach never brought this up during his tenure with Florida and I wondered why he was doing so now.

 

Then you put words in my mouth.

 

Then I reasserted by assertion.

 

Then you snapped.

 

Then I was still right.

JohnVol
JohnVol

 @TheN8tureBoy What, exactly, are you "right" about? You made a dumbass comment without closely reading Spurrier's actual quote, I point that out, and your counter of "Steve Spurrier has been in the SEC for 20 years" makes you "right"?

 

The comparison SPURRIER made (you know, the subject of this post) was between the late 80's ACC and the current SEC. It has nothing to do with his time at Florida, or how long he's been coaching in this league. Your implication that he's being disingenuous by not suggesting a round-robin while he was at Florida unnecessarily muddies the waters, is not germane to this particular quote, and makes a comparison between very different situations. 

 

All the man said was "it was cool when there were 8 teams in the ACC, we can't do that now, so let's just count division games". You respond to that with pointing out that he never wanted that at Florida, which is exactly what he's saying...the league was bigger than an 8 team ACC then, as it is now. 

 

I would've thought they would've taught you better at McCallie or Baylor or whatever d-bag Chattanooga frat boy factory your parents sent you to because, as you've mentioned before, you were a little scared of public school.

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