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LSU, Florida… Just Man Up And Stop Whining

gfx - honest opinionThe Southeastern Conference is America’s roughest, toughest football league outside the NFL.  Considering just what kind of pipeline the SEC has been for the NFL over the last 20 years, we’ll let you decide just how big the gap is between the two entities.

The conference has climbed to the top of the collegiate football heap by staying true to its traditions — more important to Southerners, it seems, than to anyone else from across the country — and by never backing down from a challenge.

While the Big XII immediately killed off the Oklahoma/Nebraska football rivalry upon formation, the SEC did its best when expanding from 10 to 12 teams and again from 12 to 14 teams to protect its oldest, fiercest rivalries.  That’s the difference between good karma and bad.  The Big XII eventually lost Nebraska to the Big Ten and Oklahoma has had conversations with the Pac-12 and the SEC since 2010 alone.

For those not paying attention, other leagues might occasionally cast an eye toward an SEC school, but the schools in Mike Slive’s league have no interest in taking advantage of the conference’s lack of an exit fee to bolt.  There’s money, tradition, and a good esprit de corps.  Why leave?

In terms of taking on challenges, many have been self-created… and wisely s0.  The belief that the SEC is a war zone filled with America’s top squads has been fostered by conference leaders making things tougher and tougher and tougher on themselves.

When coaches moaned of going from six conference games to seven in a season, the league’s athletic directors ignored them.  When coaches bellyached about going from seven conference games to eight per season, again, the league’s ADs paid them no mind.  And when coaches shrieked in terror at the thought of adding an SEC Championship Game on top of that eight-game league slate, the leaders of the league shrugged and went ahead and booked Legion Field (and eventually the Georgia Dome) for the first weekend in December anyway.

The eight-game schedule and the championship game first came into being in 1992.  In the 21 seasons since, the SEC has won 11 national championships, including in ’92 with an undefeated Alabama team that proved the fraidy cats wrong right off the bat.  In the 21 seasons before going to an eight-game schedule and the championship format, the league had won all of four national titles.  Prior to Bama’s crown in ’92, the last SEC national champ was Georgia way back in 1980.  Things changed when the league expanded, stayed true to its past, and made things more difficult for its teams.

Stated simply: The SEC doesn’t ignore its traditions and history and it consistently sets the bar on mettle-testing.

With that in mind, it’s time for the folks in Baton Rouge and Gainesville to pipe down.  Especially those complainers at LSU.

Today, the SEC’s athletic directors will meet and Tiger AD Joe Alleva will once again claim that LSU faces a disadvantage because his school is forced to play Florida each and every season as its permanent opponent.  That game, of course, has become one of the best on the SEC’s schedule and television execs have paid the league pretty darn well for that schedule over the past five years.

Florida officials aren’t thrilled with the prospect of having to play an East Division schedule and LSU each year, but the volume on Gainesville groaning hasn’t reached LSU proportions yet.  That’s ironic considering Florida has more to complain about.

Let’s look at the records for the Tigers and Gators over the past decade:

 

  Year   Florida’s Record   LSU’s Record
  2012   11-2   10-3
  2011   7-6   13-1
  2010   8-5   11-2
  2009   13-1   9-4
  2008   9-4   8-5
  2007   13-1   12-2
  2006   13-1   11-2
  2005   9-3   11-2
  2004   7-5   9-3
  2003   8-5   13-0

 

Well, whaddya know?  In five of the last 10 seasons, Florida has lost four or more football games.  That’s happened just twice at LSU over the past decade.  While the Gators have gone 98-33 since 2003, the Tigers have gone 107-24.  If anyone’s got room to cry it would appear to be Florida.

When the SEC expanded in 1992 and implemented its eight-game conference schedule, league leaders decided to split things up based on tradition and parity, not geography.  That’s why Vanderbilt is in the East and Auburn in the West despite the fact that Nashville is farther west than the Loveliest Village on the Plains.

Schedule-wise, the conference decided that the six traditional SEC powers should be separated — Alabama, Auburn and LSU on one side… Georgia, Florida and Tennessee on the other.  On the schedule front, the same logic was followed when determining permanent partners.

Georgia and Auburn have the oldest rivalry in the Deep South.  Both are traditional SEC powers.  They were paired.

Alabama and Tennessee have — historically speaking — the most-important rivalry in the SEC.  They have won more conference crowns than any other schools (UA with 23, UT with 13).  They were paired.

Among the four traditional have-nots, Vanderbilt and Ole Miss have one of the SEC’s oldest rivalries.  They were paired.

The league’s two new schools at the time — Arkansas and South Carolina — were paired in an effort to quickly gin up a rivalry between the schools.

That left four schools without obvious dance partners: Florida, Kentucky, LSU, and Mississippi State.

Florida and LSU were among the league’s six all-time most successful programs.  Kentucky and MSU, well, weren’t.

So Florida and LSU were paired in the interest of parity as were Kentucky and Mississippi State.

Now LSU and Florida — especially LSU — want to throw all of that logic out the window and do away with permanent rivals and the league’s tradition altogether.  Historically, there have always been whiners when it comes to difficulties (see: SEC coaches every time a game is added to the league’s schedule).  But those doing the crying have never been allowed to have their way.  The good of the league has always come first.

So what’s best for the league?  LSU playing Florida every season?  Or LSU seeing Kentucky or Vanderbilt or Missouri more often?  Florida seeing Ole Miss and Mississippi State and Texas A&M more often?

With the league adding two more teams to the mix last season, it’s a natural time to debate the topic.  But tradition and toughness have always mattered in the SEC.  Those two things should still matter going forward.

Permanent rivals should be maintained for the sake of history and parity.  Florida and LSU should continue to face one another every season.

And if Gator and Tiger brass feel like crying about it, they should walk to their trophy cases and look at the two BCS trophies each has won in the past decade.  For all their gnashing of teeth over unfair schedules, those schools seem to have done pretty darn well by ‘em.

 


45 comments
buddha22
buddha22

You have to admit from a coaches perspective (whose coach life typically averages 3-4 years and can even be cut to 1 or 2 given a bad year - see MU) the long view is typically not something they can afford. Also, for the players, their view is a 4-5 year window. I can see why an Alabama that keeps drawing the long straw is irritating but if you believe things are not manipulated, it is fair. However, having set "rivalry" games that typically add an easy win compared to two top 10 teams going against each other that doesn't have to be permanent, not at all especially in the hyper-competitive SEC.

The best idea I have heard for all parties, let that cross divission game be the choice of the participants. If Tenn wants to keep getting bashed because it's a rivalry (versus homecoming every other year) and in the long term they will rebound, then so be it. If Fla-LSU want to keep it going because it is a long standing rivalry, so be it, but then don't complain about it...it was your CHOICE! Free will, what a concept!

ConnGator
ConnGator

"Florida officials aren’t thrilled with the prospect of having to play an East Division schedule and LSU each year, but the volume on Gainesville groaning hasn’t reached LSU proportions yet."  Can someone provide a link for this?  Was it Muschamp, Foley, or somebody else?


Thanks

SECAg
SECAg

Free pass? We play SCar beginning in 2014

pdaddyslammy
pdaddyslammy like.author.displayName 1 Like

@SECAg Gotta jump in here as a long suffering Mizzou fan.  Until the Johnny Football beat down deliverd last year, Mizzou had beaten aTm 3 straight, including 2 at 'big bad' Kyle field.  Mizzou also happens to be 5-2 against the aggies since 2002.  Guess I'd like to see the 12th man do it for more than one year in a row before they start yapping.

Mr_Travis_McGee
Mr_Travis_McGee

It is unfair, and it doesn't take 800 words to figure out why. Two conference heavyweights forced to play each other every year when Georgia, Alabama and now Texas A&M get basically free passes.

It is absolutely unfair.

SouthernBoiSB
SouthernBoiSB

Of course, because Auburn & Tennessee were NEVER conference heavyweights.  Just because they're having a down time lately doesn't mean they can't bounce back.

Remember when people used to think of SC being an easy win?

John at MrSEC
John at MrSEC moderator

@Mr_Travis_McGee 

Uh, you just made my point.  Go back three years and Georgia was playing BCS champ Auburn.  Go back a decade and Alabama was playing perennial Top 10 Tennessee.  Texas A&M -- if the schools involved are correct -- will be getting a "free pass" in South Carolina moving forward and the Gamecocks have finished with 10+ wins the last two years.

LSU and Florida need to stop crying.  I think it's telling that Alabama, Auburn, Georgia, and Tennessee aren't whining to change schedules.  Kudos to those schools for having some testosterone.

Thanks for reading,
John

ErikaSmithJones
ErikaSmithJones

@John at MrSEC @Mr_Travis_McGee what does alabama have to cry about? easist schedule in the league two years running. the team that least needs help gets it from the birmingham HQ.

SouthernBoiSB
SouthernBoiSB

Not to defend Alabama completely here, but until we see what the future holds for everybody, it's a little unfair to say they're getting special treatment.  Nobody was complaining about their schedule prior to going to 14 teams.

buddha22
buddha22

I agree given last year's result A&M seems to have found an easy partner in MU, but you may be surprised to know that was their first win at home in 3 attempts in 3 straight years, all in a row at home vs MU due to schedule quirks...

ConnGator
ConnGator

@Mr_Travis_McGee That why the divisionless setup makes so much sense.  You preserve rivalries (except, Ole Miss/Vandy and ironically the LSU-Florida game), and every team save Auburn has a combined winning percentage of permanent rivals within .020 of .500.

Impressive, considering it was originally conceived by a Georgia fan.

scottdean14
scottdean14

Actually, when the conference first went to the eight-game schedule, each team had two permanent crossover opponents (5-2-1). The idea behind it was to balance the schedule (one traditionally good permanent crossover, one bad) so that one team wasn't stuck with a permanently tougher schedule. LSU had Florida and Kentucky as permanent crossovers. When it was changed to a 5-1-2, Kentucky was the one dropped from LSU's permanent duo (doubtful by the Tigers' choice). What I don't understand is why the league can't just make Alabama-Tennessee and Auburn-Georgia permanent, and rotate everything else. The B1G just did that with Indiana-Purdue after they were put in opposite divisions. Seems logical since there almost every other inter-division rivalry in the SEC is not as important.

SouthernBoiSB
SouthernBoiSB

Scott,

How exactly could you work everybody else around those 2 games where it's fair for all?  Are you saying that those 4 schools will take even LONGER to rotate through the other side than the other 10 schools?

scottdean14
scottdean14

@SouthernBoiSB You're making the mistake of thinking it's "fair for all" now. Yes, those four schools will take longer than the other 10 to rotate through, but it would be faster than now. And no longer than a nine-game schedule where it's a permanent 6-1-2 for ALL 14 teams. In fact, that would just mean the 10 schools would go through the rest of the league faster. 

SouthernBoiSB
SouthernBoiSB

On a side note, does anybody know when they're meeting in Florida this month?

SouthernBoiSB
SouthernBoiSB

I know the SEC tries to be on the cutting edge, but lately I've been going back over that 2@4 2@3 "Roommate Switch" pod setup idea.

Would that be a possibility they consider?

Or would that be our version of "Legends/Leaders" titles?

John at MrSEC
John at MrSEC moderator

@SouthernBoiSB 

If it takes a PHD from MIT to figure it out... it's not going to be considered.  Do you know of any other sports conference or league across the entire globe whose scheduling formula requires as much explanation?  Nice idea.  Well thought out.  Won't happen.

Thanks for reading,

John

SouthernBoiSB
SouthernBoiSB

True.....but there's still a lot of bewilderment as to why they didn't go to a 9 game schedule, pods, or SOMETHING when they added TA&M & Mizz..  I'm sure that as smart of people we have in the SEC (as well as everywhere else), they would have saw the huge drawback of a 6-1-1 idea for 14 teams.

Seems like they got caught in the middle of something & had to come up with a quick solution.  Hince why I'm puzzled as to the 3 year schedule release from this month's meeting you discussed below.

John at MrSEC
John at MrSEC moderator

@SouthernBoiSB 

I don't see the conspiracies here.  The coaches and ADs (most of them) didn't want a nine-game schedule.  Now a playoff is in the pipeline -- which will hinge on strength of schedule -- and the league has its own network -- meaning there's more cash to be made with better content.

The league has been adjusting things on the fly.  They will continue to do so.  When they finish, you'll see a nine-game league schedule... as we've predicted on this site for three years with everyone else pooh-poohing our opinion.  Looks now like we'll get to laugh -- and pooh-pooh -- last.

Thanks for reading,

John

scot_wolf
scot_wolf

Why not make rivalry games optional?  Let LSU/Florida decide if they want a rivalry or rotating game...

John at MrSEC
John at MrSEC moderator

@scot_wolf 

As spelled out in the column above -- for parity's sake.  Why should Florida and LSU play traditional have-nots when they are traditional haves... if the other traditional haves are playing one another?

Thanks for reading,
John

MJWilliamson
MJWilliamson

When did Florida complain about playing LSU every year? Can you point to actual quotes? In fact, I distinctly remember Muschamp opining that he like having LSU as a yearly opponent.

jhnshft
jhnshft

Removing permanent rivalries won't make them play the same schedule as 'bama still (which is what they are really complaining about). Everybody won't play the same still.

John at MrSEC
John at MrSEC moderator

@jhnshft 

Exactly.  There is no such thing as a "fair" schedule unless it's 26 weeks long and each squad plays every other SEC team at home and away.  And that's obviously a fantasy.

Thanks for reading,
John

jhnshft
jhnshft

@John at MrSEC There are a lot of ebbs and flows as to who is good in the conference too. Tennessee and Auburn have fallen on some hard times lately while schools like South Carolina and Texas A&M are serious contenders. But how long will either scenario last for that particular school - Auburn won't be terrible forever and will SC maintain their place when Spurrier leaves?

I think the traditional aspect of these rivalries is part of what makes the SEC special and they are not about only what happens this year, but for all of the years to come for your favorite school. I would have to think that plays a big part in the continued excitement about the SEC and gives fans something to cheer for even when their team isn't playing in Atlanta.

SouthernBoiSB
SouthernBoiSB

@John at MrSEC @SouthernBoiSB 

You & I agree that we feel as if the SEC was waiting to react to the B1G.

 

My thought about reading on here & other articles was that the SEC did have additional teams lined up just waiting for another conference (B1G) to publicly announce they were going to 16 first.  With the Maryland case & now the ACC's GOR, that put the brakes on everything for the time being.


To me, it just seemed like 4 16 teams conferences were going to be the norm & everybody was waiting for somebody else to pull the trigger first.  Then when they announced the bridge schedule for 2012 & then again for 2013, that term "bridge" had the definition of "this is what we put together to hold us over giving us more time for a bigger setup".  That gave the impression that it was 16 teams, 9 conf. games, or both.  As I pointed out earlier, there were several articles against the 6-1-1 schedule & it just didn't make sense why you would commit to that for the 12 year cycle.  When they announced TA&M & Mizz., I was under the impression that schedules HAD been created incorporating them - why think about that afterwards?  Another oddity was why the repeat hosts in 2013?  The statement was to have all 1 side to host in some years & the other in other years.  However, not all were like that (I think UGA/Auburn didn't sync that pattern).


Yes, I know that the SEC Network was trying to be finalized & took a lot of work.  But that also made me think that future teams/schedules had to be discussed & some kind of format around that figured out for when it does happen.


I may have been taking bits & pieces from here & there to form my own opinion.  But we know that Slive doesn't show his cards & has 1 Hell of a poker face.  & to me, it just seemed like a little teaser of what's to come.

John at MrSEC
John at MrSEC moderator

@SouthernBoiSB 

I may be wrong, but you seem to be hinting that you believe the SEC was trying to add two more teams, couldn't, and now they're stuck with this schedule.

I'm saying they were simply creating bridge schedules because they didn't know if the Big Ten would expand again and FORCE them to expand further.

I think that's a big difference.  I don't believe the bridge schedules show that the SEC was TRYING to add schools.  I believe it shows that no one knew what the Big Ten might do.

That's from talking to people across the SEC and in the office in Birmingham.  Take it, leave it, your call.  

Thanks for reading,

John

SouthernBoiSB
SouthernBoiSB

"The current schedules were "bridge" schedules because no one knew what was coming next by way of realignment, not because the SEC believed it would be adding two more teams."

What exactly is the difference between adding teams & realignment?  Aren't they the same if not very similar? 

John at MrSEC
John at MrSEC moderator

@SouthernBoiSB 

The SEC was not close to adding two more teams.  SEC leaders did not want to add two more teams.  They were prepared to do so if the Big Ten went to 16 and the Big XII started to grow.

The current schedules were "bridge" schedules because no one knew what was coming next by way of realignment, not because the SEC believed it would be adding two more teams.  Also, the league was negotiating it's new TV deals and there was a possibility the networks would have required more SEC content... forcing a move to nine games.

Now they're going to put out a short cycle of schedules... but those can be changed on a dime, too.

Thanks for reading,

John

John at MrSEC
John at MrSEC moderator

@ErikaSmithJones @John at MrSEC @jhnshft 

All 14 ADs were involved in creating these schedules on the fly.  They all gave, took, and then agreed upon it.  LSU and Alabama had equal footing in those meetings.

Would you agree that when creating schedules for 14 teams that some would have to be harder than others depending on divisional play and permanent rivals?  There would be complaining from someone regardless of the final schedule.

Thanks for reading,
John

SouthernBoiSB
SouthernBoiSB

Erika, if you read my posts on here, I think a lot of us were under the impression the SEC & other conferences were going to 16 (possibly more) teams & therefore requiring pod scheduling.

Also, I wonder if the Maryland case was a roadblock of making that occur sooner.

ErikaSmithJones
ErikaSmithJones

@John at MrSEC @jhnshft i think some forget that lsu and florida were playing each other every year long before 1992 and the set up of permanent opponents. lsu and florida playing every year was already happening and had been since 1971 i think. so they played every year over 40 years now. i think the rivalry has taken by now. what lsu complains about and rightly so is alabama playing ut and mizzou last year while lsu played florida and south carolina and this fall alabama getting ut and kentucky while again lsu gets florida and georgia. plus these two years were specially made schedules and not part of some rotation that will even things up later. why did they on purpose make the schedules so different for lsu and alabama. that is a legitimate question.

John at MrSEC
John at MrSEC moderator

@jhnshft @John at MrSEC 

The ebbs and flows are the exact reason LSU and Florida should stop crying.  As we explained above, Florida -- for it's great reputation -- has finished with four or more losses in five of the last 10 seasons.


John

ridin3yt
ridin3yt

I can understand where the schools are coming from, but i'd much rather drive to Baton Rouge to watch them play Florida than some other east schools i'd rather not insult. It's an exciting match up every year. Sometimes you win and sometimes you lose, but its always fun to watch. Plus you know Florida's going to be good every year so it makes the schedule look better.

ConnGator
ConnGator

Auburn was Florida's first choice back in '92, LSU was our second most-played team that ended up in the West.  Unless we give up divisions I am all for keeping the LSU rivalry.


A nine-game conference schedule would solve both problems.

Speedy98
Speedy98

I think a 10  game 6-1-3 format would be better.  All schools would end up with 5 conference home games, and you would see every team in the conference at least twice in a four year period.

ConnGator
ConnGator

@Speedy98 Actually, for Florida and Georgia a 9 game SEC schedule results in 4 home and 4 away games.  I know we are in the minority, but that works for us.

 Also, the more I think about it the more I like this:  http://www.teamspeedkills.com/2013/4/30/4282852/sec-nine-game-schedule-no-divisions

SouthernBoiSB
SouthernBoiSB

"On another note, I hope when the SEC does go to a nine-game schedule that people go to other websites and link to OUR various stories -- dating back to 2010 -- saying that the SEC would DEFINITELY go to a nine-game schedule.  I keep seeing people come here and link to other sites who are now suggesting what we suggested months/years ago.  A bit frustrating, to say the least."

My personal thought is that we were waiting for more teams to join & therefore adjust the schedule around that.  Now that we're stationary @ 14, have to begin the schedule talks.

SouthernBoiSB
SouthernBoiSB

Like how 2012-2013 were listed as "bridge" schedules.

SouthernBoiSB
SouthernBoiSB

WHY are they going to produce a 3 year schedule?  Seems like they're just throwing something together to hold over until something big happens.....like more conference shuffling?

John at MrSEC
John at MrSEC moderator

@SouthernBoiSB 

I'm thinking -- as stated -- that it will be within 5 years.  The SEC is expected to announce the next three years worth of schedules at the spring meetings.  Beyond that, it's anyone's guess.

On another note, I hope when the SEC does go to a nine-game schedule that people go to other websites and link to OUR various stories -- dating back to 2010 -- saying that the SEC would DEFINITELY go to a nine-game schedule.  I keep seeing people come here and link to other sites who are now suggesting what we suggested months/years ago.  A bit frustrating, to say the least.

Thanks for reading,
John

SouthernBoiSB
SouthernBoiSB

Are your thinking that to be sooner or later in your 5 year thinking?

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