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The SEC’s 8-Game Schedule Draws More Fire

Well.  We thought this would happen.

When we at MrSEC.com first began pushing for a nine-game conference slate in the SEC several months ago, we listed a few major reasons why it would be in the league’s best interest to adopt such a format:

 

1.  Better games would equal more revenue from television partners

2.  More traditional rivalries could be saved

3.  The league’s teams would see each other more often

4.  Sticking with an eight-game schedule would hurt the SEC’s “strength of schedule” credibility

 

Now a lot of SEC fans didn’t want to hear Point #4.  In their view, the SEC is the toughest league in America and a three-game SEC slate would be tougher than 12-game Big Ten slate.  Trouble is… SEC fans won’t be picking and choosing who plays in a new college football playoff (if a new playoff comes to pass).  That means knocks on the SEC’s scheduling practices might impact the conference’s chances of getting multiple teams in the field.

During the Big Ten’s spring meetings two weeks ago, commissioner Jim Delany became the first person to take a little shot at the SEC by suggesting that some conferences play tougher schedules than others:

 

“The polls don’t always measure strength of schedule.  Some conferences are playing nine games, some are playing eight.  The Pac-12 is playing nine and then to go out and play a round-robin game against us, that’s 10 and some of them are going to play Notre Dame – that’s 11 difficult games.  If they’re ranked fifth in the country and they won a conference championship, I think that’s quite an accomplishment. Some teams don’t even win their own division.  They started off highly in the rankings, lose early, don’t play a championship game and they might end up at four.”

 

The Big Ten and all other major conferences will require their football teams to play a minimum of nine BCS-level foes per season.  Thus the eight-game dig at the SEC.

Yesterday, Jon Wilner of The San Jose Mercury News became the second person to point out that the SEC leaves more room for cupcakes than do other conferences:

 

“Pac-12 officials have to be thinking that the playoff model — especially one with the best four teams qualifying (the SEC plan) — further tilts the national championship scales to the southeast, and away from the west coast.

How reasonable a path to the playoff would USC have when it’s playing nine league games and Notre Dame and a quality B1G opponent as part of the scheduling partnership?

Meanwhile, the best SEC teams are playing eight league games and three non-conference cupcakes, if not four?

(Michigan, which also plays Notre Dame annually, would be in the same predicament as USC relative to their counterparts in the SEC. The Wolverines, coincidentally or not, are opposed to the playoff.)”

 

Whether you agree with Wilner’s view or not is moot.  The point is that the SEC has chosen to hand ammunition to its enemies.

Unless the SEC’s presidents surprise everyone with a last-minute switch to a nine-game schedule today in Destin, SEC fans had best get used to hearing the “they only play eight conference games” argument tossed in their faces.  Often.  And at some point — perhaps right off the bat — that kind of talk might just begin to resonate with the people who do pick the teams for college football’s new playoff (if a new playoff comes to pass).

 


25 comments
SEC Fan
SEC Fan

Yes, we all understand it would help out the headaches of scheduling by going to 9 games.

 

But let me ask the obvious "elephant in the room" question:

 

<b>Do those other conferences play a cross-division rival each year? </b> Or is it just a round robin 9 game schedule that rotates yearly?  That game alone makes the SEC special to hold that tradition!

Rumbo
Rumbo

The 9 conference game schedule would make a lot of sense... IF  all confereces were equally deep. Didn't Delany's conference go 0-5 on New Year's day 2011? What has their bowl record been of late?  The losers will always have excuses, Alabama plays Big 10 teams all the time and the scores have been cupcake-like. Leave it to each SEC school to harden it's schedule or suffer the consequences.  LSU, Georgia, Bama, Tennessee, even Ole Miss this year have scheduled 'Big Boy' OOC games.  I would much rather see a marquee OOC game than another conference game just to appease the Liliputians of college football.

kaput
kaput

Because every time I want good college football news and commentary, I turn to the San Jose Mercury News . . . 

 

How many more times will you guys pound this drum?  Get over it, already.  

Bubba Gump
Bubba Gump

I may be the lone wolf in this discussion, but i still think like an alpha predator.

 

The "everybody else is at 9" rings hollow as someone calling you chicken. I prefer the sound advice of dad when he said "would you jump off a bridge just because your friends did" school of thought. While I feel sure I will draw the ire of John and others, the point is valid when looking at it conference by conference, and the "hidden" message being sent by the media overlords who care less about the SEC than the SEC does.

 

#1 - The 9 game issue is not really about the other conference stands, but all about pre rivalry week programming

While we in the SEC love the final week of SEC football, it puts too much content in one week, and not enough in the previous week. This is the root issue, and letting the networks make football decisions with no skin in the game means it will not end well for the SEC. Just look at the views separated between TV desires, and SEC desires!

 

Imagine LSU vs BAMA the week before the Iron Bowl - Sure TV is happy because it gets back to back marquee games, but does that give Auburn an upper hand in the Iron Bowl every year knowing the Tide played the Tigers the previous week?

 

Imagine UF vs UGA the week before the UF vs FSU game - Sure TV is happy because it gets back to back marquee games, but does that give FSU an upper hand in this game every year knowing the Gators played the Dogs the previous week?

 

Lather, Rinse, Repeat though the rest of the SEC schools. The SEC plays an early cupcake and a late cupcake because the conference is that much tougher than the other conferences in the USA at this time. When the rest of college football gets that strong, then maybe the SEC should listen, but until then they are just a bunch of losers blowing hot air. That late season cupcake game allows SEC schools a chance to get a breather heading into the biggest weekend in the conference. Is giving up this game making the next week better? I would say not, and I really believe such a money grab by the media will be a substantial crack to SEC dominance. Any old racetracker can tell you that if you run a horse back to back to back to back, it is a matter of time before they break down or spit the bit.

 

#2 - Other conferences are top heavy, so scheduling in conference is like the SEC scheduling an extra OOC "breather" game

 

ACC - yeah, like what they do matters with the inability they have shown in dominating college football

 

PAC - look at a map, and the PAC is not only weak top to bottom, but they have fewer opponents to schedule OOC. As a west coast monopoly it is their best interest to go to 9 or 10 conference games year in and year out. I would they are the only conference who could eliminate all but 1 OOC game and the CCG, and still come out ahead in the deal. Since computers deal with numbers that can give false readings - how else did the B12 wind up with the #1 SoS, when they have not shown the same dominance in BCS games - the PAC would have the #1 SoS every year with playing every other conference member and 1 OOC to get to 12 regular season games. Just because they had the #1 SoS still would not mean they were the best if they still could not beat the top teams in other conferences.

 

B12 - The B12 had the #1 SoS last year but they had a pitiful OOC schedule, and no real tests to see how they fared outside of conference games. The B12 lost 4 of their upper schools, and not 4 of the lower ones, yet they are better? I am sorry, but I can not buy this long term. Only Oklahoma seems to schedule tough OOC season after season and while offensive fireworks make for high scoring games, it still does not indicate defensive prowess needed to win at the national level. They play 9 conference games and get a big SoS boost from it, but does this really mean the mid and bottom level schools can withstand the fire of big games outside the confines of the B12 footprint? At least TAMU played Arkansas last year, and Missouri scheduled Arizona State, but these outliers in scheduling are no longer in the B12.

 

B1G - Like the PAC they could go to an 11 + 1 schedule and eliminate the CCG. Nobody will doubt the power of Ohio State or Michigan in the national media. Penn State without JoPa and Nebraska as the new kid still have time to prove if they will be at the top of the B1G food chain. After that the B1G is suspect as evidenced by their showing - or lack of it - in the BCS MNC game. The B1G folks are smart enough to know that they can go to 9 and make a big deal about it because the middle and bottom are weak enough to allow a few at the top to survive. The B1G folks are smart enough to know that same math in the SEC would greatly diminish the top teams because the probability of the middle teams is greater for an upset the more games you play. Here is the math :

 

game 1 x game 2 x game 3 x game 4 x game 5 x game 6 x game 7 x game 8 x game 9 = A%

game 1 x game 2 x game 3 x game 4 x game 5 x game 6 x game 7 x game 8 = B%

 

A% < B% in almost all possible outcomes

 

Letting the B1G dictate the math over the SEC is the epic example of long term stupidity. The SEC is the one who should control their own path and not jump off the bridge just because the B1G tells them to.

dchauncey21
dchauncey21

With all the whining we have heard and the problems of cross divisional rivalries and the talk of a conference champions playoff, or at least 3 with a wild card, i really believe there might be a solution that makes the SEC the premier football league for a long time. A nine game schedule will be a must in the future. This should be implemented so teams play each other more, but what if we moved around the divisions? East Alabama Auburn Florida Georgia Kentucky Tennessee South Carolina West LSU Arkansas Texas A&M Missouri Miss St Ole Miss Vandy With these divisions, you could basically do away with cross divisional rivals although Vandy may still want to play Tennessee every year. You could have 3 rotating games between divisions which would ensure everyone gets through the full schedule of teams in a short amount of time. The SEC East would be the prize jewel of all of CFB. The SEC would bank, and the conference champ would get in anyway. I think the West would improve as well with schools initial heeding a real shot at winning a division. Tennessee is down right now, so is UK and UF, if Arkansas keeps competing the way it has and A&M makes some moves or a Mizzou or MSU, then it is not lopsided at all. Just an idea that I think could work in a new era, now getting SEC presidents to approve would be another. What do you think Mr. SEC?

WillieT
WillieT

With all due respect to the oligarchs of college football & the SEC in particular, a 9-game conference schedule in the SEC should be implemented for all the reasons MrSEC has pointed out. Probably there are a few other good reasons to do it. Weigh these against the limited reasons for sticking with 8 and most objective people would agree that 9 games is the way to go.

 

But then, oligarchs aren't known for being reasonable.

WillieT
WillieT

I apologize in advance for asking this but honestly, I cannot remember the year.  Could someone please reply and tell me the last time Notre Dame fielded a team that could legitimately be considered a "difficult" game? 1997? 1994? More than 20 years ago?

ATL14ESQ
ATL14ESQ

Spot On

 

SEC needs to get off their ass and immediately mandate a 9 Game Conference schedule along with insisting that a tenth game be scheduled against another BCS level Conference. Hopefully the ACC.

 

2 Cupcakes is one too many( IMO,)_ but at least it would be viewed acceptably from outsiders looking in.

 

Current Non Conference schedules  featuring the Jacksonville States of the world and a bunch of directional schools are an effin joke.

FallsChurchDore
FallsChurchDore

There seems to be a groundswell of support among fans (myself included), but has a formal fan poll on schedule formats ever been conducted by a major media outlet?  I'd be curious if the ADs/Presidents would react if/when faced with hard evidence of preferences of those who buy tickets and make donations.  Also, while the ADs whine about losing money from the loss of a guaranteed home game, have there been any numbers put forth regarding how much more the TV folks would pay for the additional inventory and more frequent marquee cross-divisional matchups?  I'm guessing that number would dwarf whatever money Alabama would lose from not playing Georgia State.

John at MrSEC
John at MrSEC moderator

SEC Fan...

 

A 9-game slate would a) protect those cross-divisional rivalry games AND b) insure that cross-divisional teams saw each other more often.

 

John

John at MrSEC
John at MrSEC moderator

 @Rumbo 

 

That'd all mean something if YOU were picking the teams for the playoff.  

 

But since you're not, I stand by what I've made clear again and again -- those people who WILL pick the teams are most likely anti-SEC already and are just looking for a reason to exclude teams from the dynasty of leagues.  The SEC has chosen on its own to give those people a possible attack point.

 

Check back in in about three years and let's see if the SEC doesn't shift to a nine-game slate.

 

John

 

 

John at MrSEC
John at MrSEC moderator

kaput...

 

And every time I want intelligent analysis I turn to an anonymous guy in my comment boxes.

 

Don't like facts, don't read 'em.

 

I'm just pointing out that what I said would happen... is happening.  Get back to me in about three years when people have beaten the eight-game thing into the ground and it forces the SEC to go to nine games.  

 

John

buddha22
buddha22

Bubba, agree with a lot of what you have written. SEC is the best conference and 8 games or 9 I don't see that being challenged and some media wanting to pull SEC down to float their conferences boat just won't gain any legitimate traction.

 

Your analysis of the conferences is pretty fair, I'd only point out the B12 is close as the 2nd conference and overall stands up well in comparison top to bottom, but is clearly behind in the top 6 vs SEC and at the end of the day that is the business end of the deal.

 

The B1G and P12 are in danger of losing sight of the B12 and are already around the bend when looking at the leader...or trying to see them. My goodness how the P12 has free fallen right  by the B1G, that hasn't truly been relevant in a decade. No wonder they will dig in for a champions only playoff, it is about the only scenario that will give both them a chance in a 4 team playoff. A 1-4? They'll be lucky to have 1 of the teams from either conference represented. Hence all the PR about strength of schedule. It's laughable.

 

Let the dust settle and see where the chips fall.

SEC Fan
SEC Fan

I like the idea.  I'ld have to go through it to see if it works for everybody.

 

However, a couple of things I'm concerned with is cross-division rivalries.  &, if you'll look in the "Blue Chip Stories" section of this site, does it also preserve some of our longest played rivalries?

buddha22
buddha22

Willie & John, if you want this to get to 9 then I think you have to let those cross division rivalries go as some are "better" for a 9 game schedule than others are. (Tenn or Fla for example? GA or Ky? etc.) Make that 3 rotating cross division games and no one team has a built in advantage or disadvantage. And if something still needs to be preserved, shuffle the deck until the best are preserved by being in the same division. I think we all can agree nothing will stay the same forever, but these decisions are always debated over strengths now, the current east is seen as weaker than the west, UT is down farther than UF so we all see where Les is coming from. Remove that for the greater good and you can get to 9...which is for the greater good, 9 or permanent cross division rivalries?

John at MrSEC
John at MrSEC moderator

 @WillieT 

 

I see your point and I don't want to be argumentative, but going to Notre Dame is a heckuva lot tougher than hosting Troy or Jacksonville State.

 

The Irish might not be competing for national titles, but they're better than the Akrons, MTSUs, and Western Michigans that dot many SEC schedules in a given year.

 

And that's what people outside the South will use against the SEC in strength of schedule arguments.  I just hate that the SEC is going to give ammo to its enemies.

 

Thanks for reading the site,

John

AllTideUp
AllTideUp

 @david1314  I want to get to the point where we have 12 BCS level opponents every year during the regular season.  I would settle at least in the interim for what you are saying.  And I think the SEC should ban the scheduling of FCS teams.  If one of the schools can't get a CUSA team or Sun Belt team or whatever for a decent price then schedule a neutral site game with someone halfway decent.

SEC Fan
SEC Fan

 @John at MrSEC My question was more directed at the other conference's 9 game schedule.  Do they have anything similar to our cross-division games.....or is there's just a strictly rotated schedule each year?

kaput
kaput

 @John at MrSEC We get it, you guys want nine games.  Now go find some new material, please.  You're becoming a caricature of Pee Wee Herman attempting sports commentary at this point.  

Larry
Larry

I think the guy that wrote the article addresses all concerns and even goes through mock schedules on even and odd years. It actually works well. The SEC protects rivalries by grouping so to me it works.

SEC Fan
SEC Fan

 @buddha22 But it's those rivalries that make up our fabric of the SEC.  Yes, I think that either the addition of teams (pretty much FORCING schedule growth), or regrouping the divisions would help.

But you can't completely throw out the past just to fix the current?

 

I just looked @ the B1G's map of Legends & Leaders.  They're not geographically connect like the SEC's East & West.  Maybe something along those lines of redivisions could help?  (Long shot, I know, but still a thought.)

buddha22
buddha22

The only conference I know with a rival is B1G, most notably Mich-Tosu.

John at MrSEC
John at MrSEC moderator

kaput...

 

Who is more the caricature?

 

* The person who states a viewpoint, signs his name to it, and then links to stories showing that people are doing exactly what he said they would do...

 

* Or the person who calls himself "kaput" and repeatedly comes to a website to insult the people running it and order them to run it in a manner of HIS choosing.

 

I think you're far more a caricature than I, my friend.  (Or should I say, "I know you are, but what am I?")

 

Oh, and judging by the number of people who come to this site on a daily basis, apparently Pee-Wee Herman's commentary and analysis of sports is worth reading.  I'll have to try and find his stuff.

 

John

AllTideUp
AllTideUp

I'm not sure it covers all the concerns.  A&M and Arkansas don't play every year under that plan.  There might be a couple more important games like that...I didn't check on all of them.

 

That has been the biggest contention with most all of this scheduling, preserving rivalries.

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