I Amy be the minority and I usually agree with John, but I don't want permanent cross division rivals. I think the league is best suited getting all teams in front of each other more often, creating more equitable (not perfect) schedules as possible, and creating more match ups of true national interest for TV purposes. In my opinion, rotating cross division foes is best suited to achieve these goals. Permanent foes also forces bad matchups.on some schools permanently which frankly is't right.
With the SEC spring meetings set for next week in Destin, Florida, a number of football writers from across the country have decided it’s time to weigh in on the league’s scheduling plans. It’s clear to at least three of them that Les Miles and LSU are correct — it’s time to dump permanent cross-divisional rivals in the Southeastern Conference.
Readers of this site know that we feel the SEC’s history is what makes it special. And history is the main reason the permanent rivals still exist. Alabama/Tennessee is traditionally the SEC’s biggest game. Those two schools have won more league titles than any other. More than Florida. More than LSU. More than Georgia and Auburn.
Auburn/Georgia — the deep South’s oldest rivalry — happens to be the other game the league’s leaders have deemed worthy of protection. Those leaders have taken a big-picture approach. The columnists quoted below do not.
“Meanwhile, Alabama has played Florida and Georgia eight times — the lowest of any West Division team. Alabama’s argument is it plays Tennessee, which started the BCS era with a national title but has recently fallen on hard times.
The reality is Florida and LSU are better equipped than Tennessee — now and for the foreseeable future — to win big in the SEC. So where does that leave permanent rotations?”
“Alabama-Tennessee has always been a streaky rivalry, but the utter humiliation the Tide have laid on the Vols in most of the past six season suggests this isn’t much of a rivalry at all. Since its win streak began in 2007, Alabama has beaten Tennessee by an average of 23.2 points.”
“With all due respect to UT AD Dave Hart, who’s made it part of his mission to preserve that game on an annual basis, the Tide vs. the Vols is no longer a rivalry. It’s a guarantee game.
When they play in Knoxville, Tennessee gets a crowd and a bruise, and Alabama gets a win. When they play in Tuscaloosa, Tennessee gets nothing but a bruise, and Alabama gets another win.
Meanwhile, while Alabama’s using its permanent cross-division game as a breather to prepare for LSU, LSU has to go through Florida before it even gets to Alabama. Auburn has to prepare for Alabama by climbing into the ring with Georgia.”
So the basic reason for dumping permanent cross-divisonal rivalries like Alabama-Tennessee and Auburn-Georgia is: Tennessee sucks and always will.
This is what happens when we in the media spend too much of our time writing and reading tweets. We can’t see anything but the now. Anything past the 140th character qualifies as the distant future. And history? Well, Mandel did go back six whole seasons in discussing the Vols and Tide rivalry.
Shortsightedness is not an asset when it comes to running a conference.
And just as Mike Slive and Texas A&M president R. Bowen Loftin referred to Texas A&M’s decision to join the SEC as a “hundred-year decision,” league scheduling should take into account the fact that the teams on top today might not be the ones on top tomorrow. Scheduling should be based on historical strength, not current power.
By way of an example, let’s imagine the SEC’s stewards were planning to create a new schedule rotation back in 2002. They would have had a full decade’s worth of records from a 12-team SEC with which to work. Below are those SEC records from 1992 through 2001:
SEC East 1992-2001
SEC West 1992-2001
Interesting. One must wonder whether or not Hayes — if he’d looked at those numbers in 2001 — would have dared to write that Tennessee wouldn’t be equipped to deal with Florida and LSU moving forward. We’ll guess not.
In 2001, Tennessee’s upset loss to LSU in the SEC title game cost the Vols a second trip to the BCS Championship Game within a four-year span. UT had just beaten Alabama for a seventh consecutive time. (If Mandel thinks six results are enough to destroy SEC history, what would he have said based on seven?) Phillip Fulmer was still bringing in top recruiting classes.
So could anyone have predicted the Vols’ nosedive? Sorry. Niether Hayes, Mandel nor Scarbinsky coulda/woulda been able to foresee that one.
2001 also marked LSU’s first trip to a major bowl game since 1986. Matter of fact, the Tigers didn’t finish in the national top 10 from 1988 through 2001. They finished unranked in nine of the 11 seasons between 1989 and 1999.
Does anyone remember a push during the 90s calling for LSU to be dumped from Florida’s schedule? Tennessee was playing Alabama year-in and year-out, after all, and the Tide were the best in the West. Meanwhile the Gators were enjoying a breather, a guarantee game with the Tigers.
Thankfully, during the 90s, Tennessee and Alabama didn’t whine about having to play each year.
Looking at the SEC records above, would anyone have predicted South Carolina’s rapid turnaround in the 2000s?
And, if schedules had been re-worked in ’02 based on the previous decade’s records, do you believe Florida/Mississippi State would have turned into the top television draw that Florida/LSU has become?
The point is, things change. They change quickly. They change without warning.
Who in 1995 would have predicted that some guy named Nick Saban would someday arrive in Baton Rouge and turn LSU into a national power?
Who would have predicted that an ex-Florida State offensive coordinator named Mark Richt would do better at Georgia than Jim Donnan?
Who could have foreseen stable, dominant Florida yo-yoing from the heights of BCS titles to the lows of five- and six-loss seasons under three coaches not named Steve Spurrier between 2002 and 2012?
Who would have predicted Spurrier would land at South Carolina and then have so much more success than Lou Holtz had had in Columbia?
Who would have guessed that Bobby Petrino could turn Arkansas into a national power before wiping out his motorcycle and his SEC coaching career?
Get the message?
Get the right coach and any school can win. Get the wrong coach or get on the wrong side of the NCAA and any school can lose. The idea that the past 15 years, 10 years, or — Lord, help us — six years should be used to plan a league’s schedule is the apex of silliness and shortsightedness. It’s Twitter-level thinking. “Hey, I just stubbed my toe. Might as well amputate because as far as I can tell right now, it’ll always hurt.”
When the SEC expanded in 1992, Roy Kramer and crew wisely chose to look back over the entire history of the conference. Three traditional powers were sent to the West (Alabama, Auburn and LSU). Three traditional powers were sent to the East (Florida, Georgia and Tennessee). Those teams were lined up as permanent cross-divisional foes for the sake of parity and preserving historical rivalries. It was wise then. It’s still wise now.
And for all the writers stamping their feet over this debate, LSU is really the only school publicly banging the drum to nix permanent rivalries. Florida officials have said that they get what Miles and AD Joe Alleva are saying, but they’ve not said — publicly, at least — that they want the game killed.
You can be sure that Kentucky, Vanderbilt, Ole Miss and Mississippi State would prefer to keep playing one another. UK/MSU isn’t a heated rivalry, but those schools would rather play one another than one of the traditional “big six.”
Teams rise and fall. The best programs eventually rise after they fall. The worst programs tend to fall after they rise.
No one knows which SEC school will hire the next Nick Saban. No one knows which SEC school will be the next to stumble over an NCAA tripwire.
For that reason, a nine-game schedule preserving permanent cross-divisional rivalries is the wisest, simplest plan heading into the future. Certainly there will be some discussion of permanent rivals in Destin — LSU’s Alleva and Miles will see to that. As Slive is fond of saying, “The First Amendment is alive and well” in the SEC.
But to quote a movie line, “The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.” In this case, LSU and the three columnists backing their power play make up the few.