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You Watching, SEC? The Big Ten Gets It Right On Scheduling

gfx - honest opinionYesterday the Big Ten officially announced its new divisions, its new division names (thankfully), and its new scheduling plan.  While not perfect — three of the league’s 13 “trophy games” will be lost as annual tilts — Jim Delany’s plan could provide Mike Slive and his conference with one very good idea.

Beginning in 2016, the Big Ten will feature a pair of seven-team divisions under simple East and West banners, just as the SEC currently boasts.  The league will begin playing a nine-game conference schedule as well.  And for those SEC fans who’ve barked about an uneven number of home and road games being the signature feature of a nine-game slate, the Big Ten came up with a pretty straight-forward remedy.  In even-numbered years, teams from the East Division will play five home games and four road games.  In odd-numbered years, all the West Division teams will host five league games and travel to play four.

In other words, no team within a division will hold a home/road advantage over another team in its division.  Ever.

Problem solved.

We believe that a nine-game slate with a 6-1-2 format still is the safest bet for the SEC moving forward.  (Short of that, the league should adopt an eight-game conference schedule without divisions and simply ask the NCAA for a waiver regarding its championship game in Atlanta.)  Currently, no one knows who will be picking the teams for the new College Football Playoff or what criteria they will use to do so.  If schedule strength is as big a component as expected, the question then becomes a matter of personal opinion.  And with just about everyone outside of the SEC footprint completely and totally exhausted by the SEC’s dominance, it’s not hard to imagine Slive’s conference getting the short end of the stick if its teams don’t play each other “enough.”  What “enough” is will depend on those individual voters, of course.

So why not just go ahead and make the move that will someday be required?  Eventually, a nine-game conference schedule will come to pass.  The league will make more money with better inventory on its soon-to-launch network.  Playing another game inside the league will also help negate any possible charges from selection committee members that Big Ten, Pac-12, and Big XII teams play nine conference games while SEC teams play eight and four patsies.  There’s also the added benefit of keeping more SEC rivalries alive.

Some claim that an added SEC game would lead league schools to stop scheduling quality non-conference foes.  Well, if those programs want to be taken seriously, that won’t be the case.  It appears — though we won’t know for sure for a couple more years — that most conferences are planning to have their teams play 10 quality foes per year (nine conference games, one good non-conference game).

But most SEC teams currently play only nine quality games per season (eight league games, one good non-conference foe, and three creampuffs).  The league’s 2013 schedule shows SEC teams squaring off against Georgia State, Chattanooga, Louisiana-Lafayette, Samford, Arkansas State, Western Carolina, Florida Atlantic, Toledo, Georgia Southern, North Texas, Appalachian State, Miami (Ohio), Alabama State, Kent State, Furman, Alcorn State, Troy, Bowling Green, Murray State, Southeast Missouri State, Idaho, Coastal Carolina, Austin Peay, South Alabama, Sam Houston State and UMass.

If you are interested in paying money to see any of those teams play an SEC school then you should look up a famous quote often attributed to PT Barnum.  Keyword: Sucker.

Nine is coming.  Sooner or later.  The new playoff and push toward strength of schedule should allay fears that SEC teams will drop good nonconference foes to make room for the added league game.  And the Big Ten just easily swept aside the overblown argument that some teams would hold an advantage over their division foes when playing five home games in a year.

Next argument?



9 conference games make scheduling so much easier.  You play the 6 in your division, 1 permanent rival in the other division (saves Alabama-Tennessee, Auburn-Georgia), and 2 more from the other division.  Everyone in the conference will play each other at least every 3 years.


Nobody is disagreeing with the 9 game schedule.  The only trouble I see is altering schedules for those that have perm. in-state non-conference rivalries.

Here's what I've found:

home team/year

GA - even
GT - odd

Florida - odd
FSU - even

SC - odd
Clemson - even

Kentucky - odd
Louisville - even

I had an idea that I've posted before that if you have a 4 Home game conf. schedule, you should HOST your in-state rivalry.  If you have 5 Home games, you VISIT your rival.  This way you are guaranteed 5 home games every year.

I do like the simplicity of alternating sides of cross-divion rival games.  But wasn't that wat the 2013 schedule was supposed to set up for?  I know this is how it was setup in 1992:

even years host/odd years host
Aub./UGA (Aub. repeat hosts 2013)
MSU/KY (MSU repeat hosts 2013)
Miss./Van. (***Alternating this game would have the East host in even years/West in odd.)

Arkansas/Missouri (start 2014)
Texas A&M/South Carolina (start 2014)


Some say it's not fair with some teams getting 4 home conference games and others 5 but if you makes all in the West 4 one year then all in the West 5 the next there is no advantage in that individual division.



The only problem with that is that all the schools with OOC rivals are in the same division, but they don't host their OOC rival in the same years.  You'd have to alter that schedule somehow to make it work.  It makes it harder because the other schools are in another conference naturally.

I'd still love to see 9 SEC games though.

John at MrSEC
John at MrSEC moderator


Actually, the vast majority of emails and comments this site has received since SEC expansion have indeed argued against a nine-game schedule.  The vast majority.

Thanks for reading,


John at MrSEC
John at MrSEC moderator


You tend to leave comments that state exactly what we write in the actual story.  I'm beginning to wonder if you just comment about the headline.

But, thanks for visiting the site,



But EVERYBODY has been complainng that the 6-1-1 with 14 teams was 1 of the UNWISEST things to do.

I still feel like that (2012-2013 schedules) were just a quick throw together before adding Teams 15 & 16.  Why else call them "bridge schedules"?

But now with the ACC's GOR, SOMETHING has to be done.  14 isn't a # that work's out nice & neat - especially with the cross-division rivalry game that has to be in the mix.

It's funny how many are saying go to 9 conf. games like all the others play, have NOT said anything about how those other conferences also have their cross-division rivals on the schedule too.



Exactly.  Apparently, the UGA/GT series is the only 1 different.  Yet from research, all these series have been like that as long as I noticed (50+ years).

Also, it's ironic that all 4 OOC teams are in the ACC.


I think that the bulk of it is due to those 4 having the out of conference game - thereby cutting into the open dates. & the 7 Home games.

That & my person opinion that had we gone to 16 teams & did pod scheduling, it would be easier to see everybody quicker.

Some are saying that an extra conf. game counts as 7 more losses for the conference.  Isn't that balanced with also 7 more WINS?  I'ven not quite understood that logic.


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