Seldom does a schedule-related story appear on our site that we don’t point out how cyclical things are. Schools rise and fall and rise and fall again (as we wrote just yesterday). For that reason, we have steadfastly stated that SEC scheduling — in football and in basketball — should be based on tradition more than any other variable.
The fact that arguably the SEC’s best basketball rivalry — Kentucky and Tennessee — is unlikely to remain a twice-a-year event so Kentucky and Florida — the hot teams now — can be paired up provides a perfect example of how the SEC is about to shoot itself in the foot by thinking short-term, not long-term.
But don’t take our word for it. Listen to the man who set the SEC’s money ball a’ rollin’ 20 years ago with a first-wave of expansion and an SEC Championship Game in football. According to ex-SEC commissioner Roy Kramer, who is good today might not be who is good tomorrow:
“Years ago, everybody wanted to play Florida (in football). That’s the problem. Everybody looks at it as the teams stand right this minute. Times change. Those things go up and down and even out. Early on, everybody said we’d structured the divisions in such a way that the East was far stronger than the West. Now, it’s the opposite.”
Still, many fans look at the latest standings sheet when trying to figure out their own dream scheduling scenarios. Ditto SEC coaches and athletic directors.
Which is why Mike Slive — at least as of this writing — appears to have made a critical error in allowing those very coaches and ADs to decide the league’s future football and basketball schedules. He’s basically allowed the kids to pick what’s for dinner.
“Hey, great, Hot Pockets and ice cream again!”
There’s what’s best for the schools — give us the weakest, creampuffiest schedule possible — and there’s what’s best for the league — protect as many traditional rivalries as possible. Unfortunately, guys like John Calipari and Cuonzo Martin have zero clue when it comes to the heated rivalry that is Kentucky-Tennessee in basketball. Folks like LSU AD Joe Alleva don’t get what’s so important about Auburn-Georgia in football. And Slive’s given these guys the keys to his billion-dollar sports car.
So here’s hoping the SEC’s presidents will step to the plate today and break from their coaches just as they did last year on the oversigning issue. But I wouldn’t get my hopes up.