The league office might not have released it’s new scheduling format yet, but SEC schools are still busy trying to put together future non-conference games. Unfortunately, it’s a little like throwing darts in the dark at this point.
First, SEC schools are having to line up games not knowing for certain if they’ll be playing eight or nine league games. While it’s expected SEC teams will continue to play eight conference games in the near future, commissioner Mike Slive said earlier this week that he’s still “open-minded” regarding a switch to a more lucrative nine-game slate.
Second, schools are having to guess the importance of overall strength of schedule in the new playoff environment. Each time the new playoff selection committee is discussed, someone says that strength of schedule should be/will be emphasized. But until the committee is put together and selection criteria is decided upon, no one really knows how important a tough non-conference schedule will be.
Finally, schools worried about strength of schedule are also having to predict the future. As in how good teams will be two, three, or more years down the road. In acknowledging scheduling talks between Arkansas and Texas Tech this week, new Razorbacks coach Bret Bielema expounded on this point:
“I’ve been engaged with that (Texas Tech) talk. There has been a lot of hesitation since I’ve been here because we haven’t gotten the 2014 SEC schedule. Until that kind of gets finalized and ’15 gets finalized, we can’t move forward, but there are a lot of interesting possibilities out there — some things that I know will excite our fanbase in more than one way…
When you’re projecting a couple of years out, you have to factor in what you believe (the opponent) can be. The best thing is to try to take care of what services Arkansas best. You take into account fan base, history and some things that would give flavor to your schedule you can’t find in the SEC.”
Arkansas and it’s old SWC rival Texas Tech are discussing a possible home-and-home series. But as Bielema points out, it might be difficult to lock down any games until some of the smoke starts to clear from the current landscape.