Anybody else laughing that Slive basically admitted we're going to 16? Read the other article & his comment about the SEC's "size" when TA&M & Missouri were added.
Def. makes sense why the "hold up" on schedules!
Just a few quick thoughts on what we at MrSEC.com expect to from this week’s SEC Meetings in Destin:
Mike Slive and his fellow presidents will hammer out the league’s official proposal for the new college football playoff that is supposedly coming everyone’s way after the 2014 regular season. The SEC will no doubt support a simple 1-2-3-4 system that invites the nation’s top-ranked teams, but with Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott and Nebraska chancellor Harvey Perlman both recently saying a true Plus-One might be back on the table, the SEC will need to have a compromised plan that it can fall back upon. At worst, the SEC will probably push for a plan that would include the three highest-ranked conference champs and a wild card team. If the four highest-ranked teams are all conference champs, then the lowest rated of those champs would be considered the wild card.
The other main issues will be whether or not — and how — existing bowl games can be worked into the new playoff system.
Word is there’s very little support outside LSU and South Carolina for doing away with permanent cross-divisional rivals. Missouri was hoping to keep hold of Texas A&M for the purpose of recruiting Texas, but the presidents at A&M and Carolina have publicly leaked that their schools are likely to become permanent foes instead, leaving Missouri with nearest neighbor Arkansas.
When all’s said and done, we expect the SEC to adopt a 6-1-1 plan that would require each school to face the others in its division, one permanent cross-division foe, and one rotating cross-division foe each season. In an effort to let SEC teams — ya know — actually play one another on a semi-regular basis, we’d put cash on a plan that would rotate those foes once every year rather than once every two years. In other words, Georgia might not travel to Alabama but once every 12 years, but at least the schools would be guaranteed of playing once every six somewhere.
The SEC is expected to maintain a division-less set-up in its new scheduling format. It’s also expected that the league will go to an 18-game schedule (much to John Calipari’s chagrin). The easiest route would be for each league team to play five conference rivals (some permanent, some rotating) twice each season and then the remaining eight league schools once each (which would give everyone nine home and nine road games).
But there are rumblings that the league will rotate many more opponents than necessary — even narrowing permanent rivals down to one per school — which would be a monumental, tradition-killing mistake.
The SEC would like to lock in its new scheduling format for 12 years, but it may be a shorter span gets the final nod. With so much yet to be determined on the expansion and television fronts, it’s possible the league doesn’t lock itself in for such a long period of time.
That said, schedules can always change whether they’re “locked in” or not. For that reason, we’d be a bit surprised if the league didn’t say “12 years, locked in” just to send a message of stability, if nothing else.
Head of the SEC transition team, Larry Templeton, has already said that all 14 schools will take part in this coming season’s hoops tourney. The plan is for Seed #11 to play Seed #14 and Seed #12 to play Seed #13 on Wednesday night, leading into the normal tourney as it’s now played on Thursday. We see no reason to believe any last-minute changes will be made on that front.
Mike Slive will update all involved on the state of the league’s ongoing negotiations with ESPN and CBS. Those ESPN talks will include discussion of a potential SEC Network launched in partnership with the four-letter channel.
CBS is reportedly balking at paying huge rights increases to the SEC for its additions of Missouri and Texas A&M, but we believe that to be posturing. The network wants better games to choose from and for that reason — we hold out hope — Slive and the league’s presidents could step in at the last minute and push for a nine-game conference schedule in football.
Expansion and Realignment
There’s no way the current landscape of college football won’t come up for discussion. The SEC needs to be making contingency plans in the event of mass shuffling elsewhere. Could the league decide to make a move for Florida State, a school that clearly wants in Slive’s league more than the Big 12 (their trustees mention the SEC on a regular basis)? Will the SEC set its eyes instead on Virginia Tech and a North Carolina school? Doing so would likely be tied to the potential SEC Network mentioned earlier (new states = new cable households = more money).
Expect more people in the league to be cool on expansion so soon after the addition of Mizzou and A&M. No one knows what impact those moves will have on the league’s value, income or on-field/on-court success moving forward. And for schools with smaller budgets and tougher climbs to the top of the SEC heap, every team added makes their work harder.
Deciding Division Champions
Last year Steve Spurrier hatched a plan to pay some football players a per-game stipend right out of coaches’ pockets. That idea got the kibosh pretty quickly. This year he’s campaigned for cross-division games to be excluded from the league’s standings and he’ll bring it up for discussion at this week’s meetings. (Good luck asking CBS and ESPN for more money in those TV negotiations if the league sticks with just an eight-game slate and then renders a fourth of those games meaningless.)
Les Miles and James Franklin have surprisingly backed Spurrier’s plan. Miles, well, he’s a bit kooky so that shouldn’t surprise anyone. Franklin, however, might be giving us a glimpse into the thinking of several other football coaches. If you’re the coach at Vandy or Ole Miss or Kentucky or Mississippi State, etc, would you feel you had a better chance of reaching Atlanta with what would amount to a six-game schedule as opposed to an eight-game schedule? Darn skippy, you would.
But even if Spurrier gets the backing of folks wanting an easier path to a title, it would be shocking for the nation’s most powerful commissioner and his presidents to not overrule their coaches on a move that would hurt the SEC in the wallet (television negotiations) and in terms of credibility (name another league that doesn’t count its own league games in the standings).
Mississippi State AD Scott Stricklin says he’s heard very little talk about his school’s beloved cowbells going into this year’s meetings. That hasn’t been the case the last two years. Still, the league is expected to once again discuss artificial noisemakers as well as whether or not State fans have been ringing their bells at the appropriate times (during stoppages of play).
We’re betting the bells will get another stay of execution.
Anybody else laughing that Slive basically admitted we're going to 16? Read the other article & his comment about the SEC's "size" when TA&M & Missouri were added.
Def. makes sense why the "hold up" on schedules!
I couldn't sleep last night trying to figure out a couple of items.
A. Should the SEC bring in a VA & NC school - logically Missouri would flip to the west & geographically it would make more sense. HOWEVER, the problem comes along the lines of HOW do you put them into 4 groups of 4? I'm doubting Vandy/TN nor Ala./Aub. will want to be grouped into seperate pods due to in-state game rivalries. So.......you'll have VA & NC stuck or GA & FL stuck with SC being a swing school. Ex.: VA/NC/TN/Vandy with SC/GA/FL/??? OR VA/NC/SC/GA with FL/AL/AU/???
B. Along with the trouble of Point A, what do you do about scheduling? AL/TN & GA/AU will want to continue their rivalries (I'm also pretty sure GA/FL will be grouped together), so how would that work? I thought about you could play each school in your pod (3 games), 1 perm. rival in each of the other pods (3 games), & then rotate amongst the other 3 in the other pods (3 games). This would make a lot of sense schedule wise - that is if we'ld get over the argument of perm. rivals. Right now, some are bothered with 1; try to imagine 3.
If there is expansion, I like the idea of the SEC expanding into NC and Va. I doubt the cowbells are going anywhere. If they are banned, loose change in an empty plastic cup can be almost as annoying.
Isn't this the meeting where the Commissioner distributes the checks to the ADs from the previous year's tv contracts & etc.?
Since the contract was backloaded, the money has been increasing every year. I think it was around $19million, was it not?
Wonder what the number will be this year.
For basketball, have 1 permanent h/a rival, 4 rotating h/a opponents and 8 h or a opponents. Over a 6 year period, you would cycle through the remaining 12 schools having played h and a.
For the permanent opponents, retain all the intrastate rivalries (UT vs Vandy, Bama vs Auburn, Ole Miss vs MSU) and their pair up according to geography (LSU vs. A&M, Ark vs. Mizzou, USC vs. UGA) or made for TV matchups (UK vs. UF),
Tier 3 rights would be well secured with additions in North Carolina and Virginia. That would give the SEC 16 teams. But, before we stop to celebrate a 4 division of 4 teams format let's look at what that would mean. First the Divisions would be geographically oriented. A Northern Division of Va Tech, UNC/NCstate, Vandy and Tennessee would be weak compared to South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, & Auburn. Alabama, LSU, Ole Miss, & Miss State would be reasonably balanced, and A&M, Arkansas, Mizzou and Kentucky reasonably balanced. (If Vandy & KY swapped there would still be little difference.) It would be possible that a divsion champion could have 3 division wins and win only 1 of their remaining 6 out of divison games. Therefore a division champion could have a losing conference record. That would make a mockery out of an expanded conference playoff.
Once Tier 3 rights are secured that revenue stream will become a steady slow growth stream (within 3 years of its inception). Tier 1 & Tier 2 rights will once again be where increases in revenue would need to see their greatest potential for growth. While Tier 3 has been concerned with footprint, Tier 1 & 2 are concerned with content. Florida State would give the SEC eight more marquee matchups per season. Add to them Maryland for greater cable exposure, or Clemson for further content expansion and you have increased your Tier 1 & 2 content again. While Clemson is not a national brand like FSU, we don't need a third from Florida (Miami), and Clemson generally draws more viewers and travels better than Georgia Tech. Adding Duke does little for the SEC outside of basketball, and with UNC we wouldn't need NCState unless they were a package.
Before you dismiss the idea of 18 teams simply because it seems novel consider these facts:
1. There are 73 teams that could easily argue to be in an upper tier. Inclusion of 72 of them will mitigate legal problems.
2.a. In a 3 division of 6 teams model it would almost be impossible to have a team with a losing record as a divisional champ.
b. Having an at large team to go with the 3 divisional champs would balance the divisions better by rewarding the stongest one with another entrant.
That means Alabama and LSU can share a division without one eliminating the other. That will solve most arguments over divisional alignment.
It will also energize fan base participation deeper into the season for most teams since many teams will remain in play for that spot until the final week.
c. In a three division system you play 5 divisional games and rotate 2 from each of the other two for 9 games. That adds to content, but more importantly it means that in a 18 team conference you can play every team in the conference within 3 years if out of division games are not home and home.
3. You don't have to debate content versus footprint. You can have both and balance your divisions better in the process.
Example: SEC East: Maryland/Clemson, Va Tech, UNC, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida
SEC Central: Alabama, Auburn, Florida State, Kentucky, Tennessee, Vanderbilt
SEC West: Arkansas, L.S.U., Mississippi State, Missouri, Ole Miss, Texas A&M
The geographical arrangement is sound and depending upon your additions you either gain 3 new markets and 1 very sound content producer, or 2 new markets and 1 very sound and 1 above average content producer. There would be 2 sound rounds of playoffs for the conference championship and the scheduling would be much more sound. It should be strongly considered. It works better than two division of 8 by a longshot.
@JRsec A couple of points to your argument.
With the 4 pods of 4, I don't think that Alabama & Auburn would want to be split into 2 different pods. Also, I don't see how you'ld have a legit argument for Kentucky or Vandy with those in the far west.. I could see these breakdowns:
Your breakdown of 3 pods of 6 is under the impression that all perm. & most played rivalries are done away with. I don't see how that will help the historians who want to keep them.
Per the SEC wikipedia page:
Alabama: LSU - 76 times Mississippi State - 95 times
Auburn: Florida - 82 times Georgia - 114 times LSU - 43 times
Florida: Tennessee - 40 times
Georgia: Auburn - 114 times
LSU: Florida - 57 times
Mississippi State: Alabama - 95 times
South Carolina: Tennessee - 27 times
I believe your second grouping will likely be the configuration for 16.
You solve the rivalry problem in the 3 divisions of six by moving Vanderbilt and FSU in exchange for Georgia and Florida.
Then the only rivalry really not contained is Tennessee vs Vandy. Games such as Alabama vs Miss St is hardly a rivalry just because it has been played 95 times. Both Bama and Auburn's games with LSU have been on again off again until the divisional play came into being. Really Bama has more of a rivalry with them now but it would be better for the conference if they met in later rounds. LSU/Florida is not a traditional rivalry either.
What I was looking at with the model is the best way to boost both Tier 3 and Tier 1 & 2 revenue. A concern of mine is that the paradigm will shift once realignment is completed. Instead of market footprint size, market content and market saturation are likely to become the model. The SEC has great content, but we could make more by adding more. Market saturation will mean that networks will not want to pay full value for the State of Florida to both the SEC for the Gators and say the Big 12 for the Noles. They will split revenue between the two conferences so that they aren't paying for the same market twice. I think they know that now and that's why they are encouraging the SEC to allow the Big 12 into it's states. You can't call Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Arkansas, and Tennessee dynamic markets. Missouri is a plus in this regard.
Texas, Florida, North Carolina, Virginia, and Georgia are the large television markets (Missouri excepted) and they all would be split. The networks could then have SEC and Big 12 content more cheaply in the future by moving to a saturation model.
And please don't give me any of those arguments about how the Networks don't want to damage their own product. Just look at the ACC and the reward they've gotten for giving ESPN full rights.
Times will tighten further. The economy is why realignment is happening anyway. State money is drying up. Grant money has more strings attached. And last year attendance declined in many of the venues for the first time in decades. Travel contributed, but so did High Def TV. The networks know this shift is underway. Stadium size will be insignificant compared to cable subscriptions in the future. The networks will want a cheaper cash cow and a new reward model will give it to them. Especially after they've gotten the best two football conferences to divide up each other's markets by dangling renegotiations and financial rewards to get them to do so. It is their incentives that make F.S.U. unappealing to the SEC, not geography, cultural fit, or quality. I would much rather pay to see one of our schools play the Noles than the Heels. And I would be far more likely to drive to Tallahassee than to Chapel Hill.
We need to consolidate to a degree our own market core. Additions on the periphery are fine, but the real reason I would like to see 18 is that we have the quality to make 18 work and that number allows us to expand for cable, but also consolidate our core. Both will pay dividends in the future.
@AllTideUp I love your suggestion of adding Ga Tech to the PAC lineup. I think that would even make ND's decision to go for this more likely. They would get everything they have and want to keep, and Southern exposure. If they have to go for a conference I would think Larry Scott could pounce on this arrangement. Plus Ga Tech is in the hub for Southern media. That would be a huge plus for the PAC, better than UT I would think.
It depends on if both of them can land securely in large conferences or not. If Duke can't go either SEC, or Big 10, then they both go as a pair. In that case I would think (in an 18 team scenario) that the SEC would take Va Tech, U.N.C., Duke, and F.S.U. That is three national brands and the most successful regional team with national brand potential (Va Tech) in the ACC. I would be very happy with that arrangement. I know Duke is weak in football, but they will improve in the SEC with more money to spend. Plus we need a few nationally recognized weak football programs, especially if they deliver like Duke can on the pine.
@JRsec This is a very interesting perspective. I don't know if it will work out like that, but Notre Dame and the military academies heading to the PAC 12 does make sense. Programs that have highly regarded academics along with being used to rough travel schedules would seem to fit in well with the PAC 12 model. BC seems to fit there as well. This also goes along with the regional network model they have developed for their channel. If I were the PAC I might consider Georgia Tech before Wake though. Wake seems to have a very small following and they aren't really located in a large market. The state of NC is slightly smaller than GA now and I think the state of GA also has more potential in developing a larger football viewer base when compared with NC. UNC(especially if they landed in the SEC), NC State, and even East Carolina have greater potential in developing a football following in that state.
And your point is well taken about ESPN giving the ACC advice to take Pitt and Syracuse and then giving basically nothing in return for the new product.
I wonder if the SEC did offer FSU if that move would be sufficient to set off the chain reaction? I'm not sure the Big 12 would be willing to blow it all up if they are not getting the best football schools the ACC has to offer. I'm not totally sure they are willing to make these moves anyway. We'll see.
@JRsec I like your thinking, but you really think Duke & UNC will be split into 2 conferences?
Let's start with the three major sports. Football we know we have won the last 6 BCS championships, plus more before that. Baseball we've won the last two thanks to South Carolina and we have 8 good teams in the field of 64 this year with Florida as the overall #1 seed. The Big 12 has 4 in of which Mizzou and Texas A&M are two of them. Our baseball championships come fairly often and have really picke up since 1990. But, did you know that we have won more basketball national championships in the last 20 years than the ACC or the Big 10. Our hoops never get the national respect that they should. The selection commmittee that seeds our teams always is made up of Big East and ACC guys and yet our teams still win.
In minor sports Auburn has dominated in recent years in swimming and diving for both men and women although they didn't win this year. Arkansas has won many national titles in Track and Field. Our conference tennis and golf teams are strong and Alabama's women hope to get our first national title in softball in a couple of weeks. Heck even Vanderbilt won a national championship in women's bowling a few years back. We are doing just fine!
Let me show you why there wouldn't be too much overlap in an 18 team conference:
SEC North: Va Tech, U.N.C., South Carolina, Kentucky, Florida State, Clemson
Central: Auburn, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Tennessee, Vandy
West: Arkansas, LSU, Miss St., Missouri, Ole Miss, Texas A&M
Big 10 East: Virginia, Duke, Maryland, UConn, Syracuse, Rutgers
Central: Indiana, Michigan St., Ohio State, Penn State, Purdue, Illinois
West: Iowa, Michigan, Nebraska, Northwestern, Minnesota, Wisconsin
Big 12 East: Pittsburgh, North Carolina St, West Virginia, Louisville, Cincinnati, Iowa St.
Plains: B.Y.U., Kansas, KState, Oklahoma, Ok St., Texas Tech.
South: Baylor, Georgia Tech, Miami, South Florida, Texas, TCU
PAC North: Colorado, Oregon, Oregon St, Utah, Washington, Wash St
South: Arizona, Arizona St, California, Stanford, UCLA, USC
East: Air Force, Army, Boston College, Navy, Wake Forest, Notre Dame
By joining the PAC with that division Notre Dame could use the Big10/PAC challenge to schedule Michigan, have two out of conference games left for Purdue and Michigan State, be favored to win their division every year, play conference mate USC, keep their usual schedule and help Larry Scott to a large cable market in MA, NC, MD, NY, Indiana and nation wide with the armed forces network. The PAC could finally showcase some of the West coast powers in the Eastern time zone.
The Big 10 would add VA, NC, MD, CT, NY, & NJ to their network without upsetting existing divisions.
The Big 12 would add PA, NC, KY, OH, UT, FL, and GA to their market.
The SEC would add NC & VA and pick up 1 national brand, FSU, for content, and 1 regional brand for content, Clemson. We would have our markets while consolidating our power in the core of our footprint.
No real overlap. Doable, and profitable all the way around.
My concern with 18 is that you're going to have an "overlap" somewhere. Say, for example, the Big 12 takes ALL 3 NC schools, but the surrounding states are SEC/ACC. I believe some other article compared it to a real life version of "Risk" (board game).
I can see your idea behind the 3X6 groupings, but what would you use as a tiebreaker to determine the "Wild Card" team?
Lastly, I'm kind of torn as to how I view the SEC & what other schools I'ld like to see join us. Yes, WE ARE COLLEGE FOOTBALL! So, that proposes the idea of why not excelling in other sports I can see the NC or Duke argument to join Kentucky to push us up there in basketball. (I'm unsure of other sports.) Then, on the flip side, look @ the academic standpoint some schools possess.
Thoughts on those angles?
@JRsec There is the theory that the leagues will go to 18-20 teams one of these days, but I think we are a good ways away from that date. A lot has to happen.
Anyway, there are a couple of things I disagree with here.
Even though it would be hard to break the league up into 4 balanced 4-team divisions it doesn't really matter for postseason concerns. The reason is that you don't have to expand the conference playoff. You can pair the 4-team pods with each other to ensure that 7 of a team's conference games are a combo of match-ups against its own pod and against all 4 teams from the other "paired" pod. And so you take only 2 pod winners in a given year, but those teams had the best records of their respective pairings. It works like 2 8-team divisions, but the pairings would be switched every 2 years to ensure that all the teams play each other frequently. There are 4 pods so your team can be paired with the other 3 pods twice every 6 years. And to make up for any inequality in the makeup of the pods you can have annual permanent rivalries with 1 team from each of the other 2 pods. That way you can manipulate the schedules and ensure greater competitive balance. You can also protect several traditional rivalries like that because there's no way to match up all the traditional rivals in 4-team units.
Also, I doubt Maryland would ever come to the SEC. If the leagues start expanding to 16, much less 18, then I think Maryland and UVA are targets for the Big Ten. And if the goal is to expand into new markets then I'd rather have Virginia Tech anyway. I think our best bet if the SEC were to go to 18 would be FSU, VT, and maybe both UNC and NC State and/or Clemson. I would argue though that FSU and others are going to have to bolt and destabilize the ACC in order for any further expansion to take place.
But I do suspect that in the long run, the overall brand is going to have to be strong to keep all the other revenue streams profitable so I agree that adding FSU would be a good move.
Thank you for your response. It was informative and well written. We would be in agreement on more than F.S.U.
I think the four you named: Va Tech, UNC, F.S.U., and either Clemson or NC State would be what we needed to complete our conference for the forseeable future.
My main concern with your logic is simply one point. If we wait to get the eighteen we want, we will not get them. The number of quality adds significantly deteriorates beyond this next round of expansion. Given that it may be decades before there is a break in one of the remaining major conferences I believe we would be stuck at 16 for quite a while. For the sake of new markets, quality of content, continuity of traditions, and geography, I would rather see us make the move now and in total.
The SEC can, within reason, get whomever we wish at this time. Adding 4 would be as easily done as adding 2. If those four completed our footprint the way those you've suggested would then there is no reason to stop short. We owe it to ourselves, and to those who wish to join us, to move quickly once it starts. Both the Big 10 and Big 12 will be looking for East Coast markets. I've even heard the possibility that the PAC may seek an East Coast division. From a market standpoint for cable that makes more sense than most would give it at first glance. If that Eastern Division is 6 teams, it would even be more doable than with a pod of 4 because of the reduction in travel. Since the Big 12 is not available to them, they could well plan to profit by the ACC.
The SEC doesn't stand to gain much to our West. Oklahoma would be a national brand, as would Texas. That's about it. Our future is in acquiring teams from the ACC if they become available. If we want four of their best we had better snag them at once. All of them will be gone in short order.
@JRsec I also should mention Louisville. If the SEC ever expanded beyond simply bringing in new markets then UL has got to be in consideration. According to an article I read the other day, UL is in the top 20 in revenue nationally. That is true despite being in the lowly Big East and not really having a national ID. Conversely, this same article said that there were NO current ACC teams in the top 20 and that includes FSU, VT, UNC, Miami, and everyone else.
@JRsec The only products to the West that I could see bringing the SEC value would be OU, Texas, or maybe Kansas. The Big 12 has locked up their media rights for 13 years though so no one is going to leave that league for at least 11 or 12 years.
I just don't know that the big leagues will expand to 18 or beyond. It might happen one day I suppose, but I don't know that there is any drive to make that happen. The PAC 12 and the Big Ten are much more selective with who they will take and I don't see the SEC or Big 12 adding 4-6 more members than those leagues will have.
I also think there are diminishing returns at some point. We could all think of 72 teams that would fit well into a future conference structure, but does that mean that the individual leagues will be interested in all those teams? Will the additions be sufficiently profitable? I just don't know that anyone can answer those questions right now.
It's called home field advantage for a reason and what's the point of having it if you can't ring the darn cowbells whenever you want to. To Mississippi St fans, I say "more cowbell". To my fellow TN fans it time to break out the vuvuzellas.
@scottlester wouldn't the VUVUzela be better suited for VU?
Good point and thanks for for pointing out the double VU. I don't think I can in good faith bring in a noise maker that begins with VU much like I can't bring myself to drink a particular drink that begins with "gator". Well back to the lab to figure out what type of noise maker an orange bleeding fan can use.
@scottlester UTimizer, UTa-tuba, UTa-tamberine, UTa-tongo, UT-aluza, UTrombone, UTrumpret, .....? Most orange bleeding fans from our previous marriage mostly just hired surrogates to come yell in their place........ so good luck in the lab.
@scottlester As an Alabama fan I support the use of cowbells. Let them ring the damn things whenever they please. What are the officials going to do, go up in the stands and take up the cowbells? MSU fans'll just pull out another one. Are they going to penalize MSU 15 yards over and over again every time Joe Dirt in row 77 rings his cowbell.? I don't see it. More cowbell indeed.
@gregpomeroy1 Cowbells do seem kind of wimpy though. Its an admission your fans are just a little too lazy to actually, well exert the effort to actually yell. But if you are a 70 year old, it puts you on equal footing with the students I suppose. One solution to not being able to make as much noise in the stands with your vocal cords as other student bodies is as good as another.......