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Hogs, Texas Tech Negotiations Show How Much Guesswork Is Involved In SEC Scheduling

8950885-3d-illustration-of-dart-board-on-dark-backgroundThe 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.

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SEC Headlines – 4/26/12

Quickie day of headlines today — more business meetings — but here’s what’s happening around the conference:

 

1.  This fine writer says college football’s new playoff needs a selection committee.  (That means it’s one of the few times we find ourselves disagreeing with him.)

2.  If the Georgia Dome is demolished — which is a possibility — a retractable roof dome could house the SEC Championship Game.

3.  Need more evidence of “The Nick Saban Effect?”  Bama was completely shut out of the NFL draft just four years ago.  Tonight, they’ll practically own it.

4.  Brandon Moseley will likely be Auburn’s first drafted player this week.  (Meaning in this week’s draft… obviously the Tigers have had a few folks drafted in prior years.  Hyuck-hyuck.)

5.  SEC coaches have good things to say about John L. Smith’s appointment at Arkansas.

6.  Les Miles was a last minute scratch for an LSU booster party last night due to a “a team and personnel matter.”  (Can we call him “No-Show” like The Possum?)

7.  Ole Miss offensive lineman Bobby Massie is hoping his decision to leave school early pays off tonight.

8.  MSU defensive lineman Fletcher Cox, meanwhile, is a sure-fire first-rounder.  (It’s likely, then, that State will have first-round picks in back-to-back years for the first time since the early-80s.)

9.  Texas A&M will open the 2013 football season against old SWC foe Rice.

10.  Florida’s talent dip in football will be revealed beginning tonight.

11.  Georgia answered some — but not all — questions this spring.

12.  Some ex-Kentucky players are hoping for some NFL love this week.

13.  South Carolina defensive line coach Brad Lawing helped turn around the attitude and career of Melvin Ingram.

14.  Tennessee is cutting back on the number of walk-ons Cuonzo Martin can carry on his basketball team.

15.  After a season of butting heads, James Franklin and quarterback Jordan Rodgers are now on the same page at Vanderbilt.

16.  Missouri’s Frank Haith has promoted Tim Fuller to the role of associate head coach.

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Baylor’s Protests Even More Sickening When Put In Historical Context

A few things that you know by now:

1.  Texas A&M is heading to the SEC at some point.

2.  That point would have been last week had Baylor not leaked threats that it would sue the SEC (and perhaps even commissioner Mike Slive) for tortious interference.

3.  Legal experts don’t think the Baylor has much hope of winning such a suit.

4.  We at MrSEC.com have said from the beginning that BU’s move is simply a stall tactic designed to try and keep the Big 12 alive.

If you read this site regularly, you know that we’ve also often pointed out how Baylor had no worries about the common welfare or the end of “good ol’ Texas footbawl” when it skedaddled from the SWC to the Big 12 in the mid-90s, leaving Houston, Rice, SMU and TCU to fend for themselves.

Well Texas A&M fans have dug up a story from The Houston Chronicle dated February 24th, 1994.  Here’s what Thomas R. Powers — chairman of Baylor’s board of regents — had to say about BU’s own conference jump at the time:

“We are certainly saddened by the demise of the Southwest Conference.  I think it was something that was going to happen sooner or later.  We certainly wish those who did not receive an invitation (to join the Big 12) well.  I feel sure they are fine institutions and they will find a place in some other program that will be appropriate for them.”

It should also be noted that Baylor was the first school from the SWC to vote on and accept an invitation to join the Big 12.

Yet now that Baylor is being left behind rather leaving others, school president Kenneth Starr is threatening lawsuits to the left and lawsuits to the right.  What a pathetic show.

Anyone else need a vomit bag?

(And to those who’ve come here and “corrected” us for suggesting that Baylor twisted arms politically to enter the Big 12 in the first place… read the above story written on the day BU’s vote went down.  And then go get your shinebox.)

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Conference Realignment Isn’t Evil… It’s Evolution

“Dear Texas A&M: Don’t complain about being inconvenienced by Baylor.  Blowing up all of college sports is inconvenient for about 100 schools.” — Dan Wolken of The Daily

“The only thing funnier than Texas A&M completely altering the landscape of college sports is Baylor halting it.” — David Ubben of ESPN.com

“Tradition is gone.  Perspective is gone.  Any sense of tradition, doing what’s right or maintaining semblance of the fabric of what has made college athletics so great and unique has been obliterated by the potential of the next TV deal.  There is no common good in college football, any more than there is in boxing.” — Jeff Schultz of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Blowing up all of college sports?  Texas A&M completely altering the landscape of college sports?  There is no common good in college football?

What the hell’s the matter with everyone?

Why do I continue to read “change is bad” pieces without ever stumbling upon a “change is inevitable” column?  Much less — dare I say it? — a “change can be good” opinion?

Yeah, I get it, sports is all about tradition.  Because the world couldn’t go on without Oklahoma and Nebraska meeting on the gridiron every year.  Whoops.  Wait.

And free agency — why the very idea — would ruin all of sports forever.  Oh.  Nevermind.

Overtime, two-point conversions, league mergers, the Brooklyn Dodgers leaving Flatbush, the Florida Marlins being born and, and, and… sports goes right on along regardless.

So why’s that train kept a rollin’ for all these years?  Because sports are a pastime that we need for entertainment and distraction’s sake.  With the exception of strikes and lockouts we the fans never go anywhere.  When teams move, we keep watching games.  When conferences rise and fall, we keep watching games.  When leather helmets become plastic and then become whatever the heck that was Maryland wore the other night… we keep watching games.

If Oklahoma picks up stakes and heads to the Pac-12, sports will survive.  A million screaming Sooner fans will go along for the ride.  They’ll pull for the Crimson and Cream when they play Oregon State just as they would if they were playing Iowa State.

Sports will survive because it’s a business.  And it’s been a big business since the advent of television.  Televised games meant money for pro teams and money for schools.  In the case of college football, it was a landmark 1984 lawsuit set things in motion for what we’re seeing today.

“There is no common good in college football.”  Oh, please.  When has there been?  When Alabama and Auburn refused to play each other between 1907 and 1948?  When the Southern Conference splintered in 1932?  Or when it splintered again in 1953?

Conference expansion and conference realignment isn’t evil, it’s evolution.  For proof, let’s look back over the past six decades.  To keep things simple, we’ll only look at the major football conferences over that span of time: the SEC, the ACC, the Big Ten, the Pac-12, the SWC, the Big 8, the Big 12 and the Big East.

Let’s see just how steady and traditional and filled with brotherly love and loyalty the conferences and schools have been throughout the modern age, shall we?

ACC —

* Founded in 1953 with Clemson, Duke, Maryland, North Carolina, NC State, Wake Forest and South Carolina as its 7 original members.

* In 1971, South Carolina left.

* In 1978, Georgia Tech entered.

* In 1991, Florida State entered.

* In 2004, Miami and Virginia Tech entered.

* In 2005, Boston College entered.

Total: 5 schools in and 1 school out (6 moves) since 1953.

SEC —

* In 1940, the SEC consisted of 13 schools: Alabama, Auburn, Florida, Georgia, Georgia Tech, Kentucky, LSU, Mississippi State, Ole Miss, Sewanee, Tennessee, Tulane and Vanderbilt.

* In 1940, Sewanee left.

* In 1964, Georgia Tech left.

* In 1966, Tulane left.

* In 1992, Arkansas and South Carolina entered.

* In 2012 (we think), Texas A&M will enter.

Total: 3 schools in and 3 schools out (6 moves) since 1940

Big Ten —

* In 1940, the Big Ten consisted of 10 schools: The University of Chicago, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Northwestern, Ohio State, Purdue, and Wisconsin.

* In 1946, Chicago left.

* In 1950, Michigan State entered.

* In 1990, Penn State entered.

* In 2011, Nebraska entered.

Total: 3 schools in and 1 school out (4 moves) since 1940

Pac-12 –

* In 1940, the Pac-12 consisted of 10 schools: California, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Oregon State, Southern Cal, Stanford, UCLA, Washington and Washington State.

* In 1950, Montana left.

* In 1959, Idaho, Oregon, Oregon State, and Washington State left.

* In 1962, Washington State returned.

* In 1964, Oregon and Oregon State returned.

* In 1978, Arizona and Arizona State entered.

* In 2011, Colorado and Utah entered.

Total: 7 schools in and 5 schools out (12 moves) since 1940

SWC –

* In 1940, the SWC consisted of 7 schools: Arkansas, Baylor, Rice, SMU, Texas, Texas A&M and TCU.

* In 1956, Texas Tech entered.

* In 1971, Houston entered.

* In 1992, Arkansas left.

* In 1996, Baylor, Texas, Texas A&M and Texas Tech left to form the Big 12 and the other 4 schools went to smaller conferences as the league ceased to exist

Total: 2 schools in and 9 schools out (11 moves) since 1940.

Big 8 —

* In 1940, the Big 8 consisted of 6 schools: Iowa State, Kansas, Kansas State, Missouri, Nebraska and Oklahoma.

* In 1947, Colorado entered.

* In 1958, Oklahoma State entered.

* In 1996, Colorado, Iowa State, Kansas, Kansas State, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State left and merged with 4 old SWC schools to form the Big 12 as the Big 8 ceased to exist.

Total: 2 in and 8 out (10 moves) since 1940.

Big 12 –

* Founded in 1996 with Baylor, Colorado, Iowa State, Kansas, Kansas State, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas, Texas A&M and Texas Tech as its 12 original members.

* In 2011, Nebraska and Colorado left.

* In 2012 (we think), Texas A&M will leave.

Total: 0 in and 3 out (3 moves) since 1996.

Big East –

* Founded in 1991 with Boston College, Miami, Pittsburgh, Rutgers, Syracuse, Temple, Virginia Tech and West Virginia as its 8 original members.

* In 2004, Miami, Temple and Virginia Tech left.

* In 2004, UConn entered.

* In 2005, Boston College left.

* In 2005, Cincinnati, Louisville and South Florida entered.

* In 2012, TCU will enter.

Total: 5 in and 4 out (9 moves) since 1991.

That’s 61 moves since 1940.  On average that’s one major conference change every year for six decades.  Over that time three major conferences were formed, two went bye-bye and another is currently positioned squarely on the brink of oblivion.

Yep, until now things have been quite solid indeed.  Solid as a Jell-O.

The activity of the past 16 months isn’t the beginning of the end of college football.  It’s the end cycle of an evolutionary wave that began in 1984 with the US Supreme Court’s ruling on NCAA v. Board of Regents of University of Oklahoma.

In that case the court ruled that the NCAA’s control over college football television scheduling and revenue violated the Sherman Antitrust Act.  Not only did the ruling give the schools and leagues the power to cut their own TV deals, it took nearly all power away from the NCAA in terms of college football.  The NCAA can wag a finger and shout from a soapbox, but in the end, the schools and the leagues have the power to do whatever it they want to do.  Is it any wonder then that conferences began expanding soon after the Supreme Court’s ruling?  The bigger the league, the more money it could print.

Look at this timeline:

1984 — Supreme Court ruling
1990 — Penn State joins Big Ten
1991 — Notre Dame cuts its own television deal with NBC
1991 — Florida State joins ACC
1991 — Big East Conference is founded
1992 — Arkansas and South Carolina join SEC to form first 12-team league
1992 — This basically marks the end of the age of college football “independents”
1992 — SEC stages first major college conference championship game
1996 — SWC folds and Big 8 merges with 4 SWC teams to form Big 12
2004 — ACC raids Big East for Boston College, Miami and Virginia Tech
2005 — Big East raids Conference USA for Cincinnati, Louisville and South Florida
2008 — SEC signs landmark contracts with CBS and ESPN worth $3 billion over 15 years.
2010 — Big Ten explores expanding to 16 teams
2010 — Pac-12 tries to raid Big 12 for 6 schools (Colorado, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas, Texas A&M and Texas Tech) in an attempt to reach 16 teams
2011 — New Pac-12 television contracts and family of regional networks trump three-year old SEC television deals

What we’re witnessing today in college football isn’t shocking.  It’s the obvious next step.

Some fans look at conference realignment and bemoan the loss of tradition.  But a look at the history books shows that all of the major conferences have been adding and subtracting schools for years.  For every Penn State-Pittsburgh series that dies, there’s a Florida-Tennessee rivalry to emerge.

Some media members weep that “the spirit of college athletics” is falling by the wayside.  But those with any business sense understand that money has been changing the sporting landscape for the last 60 years and especially the last 35.

Texas A&M isn’t destroying college athletics.  Geez.  Overreact much?

A&M is simply trying to do what dozens of schools and conferences have done for decades — realign itself with new schools in order to increase its long-term financial security.

Despite the doom and gloom being tossed about by columnists taking aim on extremely low-hanging fruit, evolution isn’t always a bad thing.

Personally, I kind of like having opposable thumbs.  I enjoy using them to drive my horseless carriage.  And I feel good knowing that I likely won’t ever trip over an anvil.

It’s called progress.

Now, if you’re against expansion and realignment, super.  That’s fine.  I’m not totally gung-ho on the idea of 16-team super-conferences, either.  Much less the 20-team leagues that will someday follow.  But let’s not claim that expanding conferences are evil and that schools on the move are “blowing up all of college sports.”  That’s a preposterous oversell.

I’m pretty sure, after all, that if the Big 12 replaced Texas A&M with Houston or Louisville or BYU, it’s train would keep right on a rollin’.  As has been the case for all of sports — even the mostsacred college sports — since television dollars began to rule the world.

It’s not evil.  It’s evolution.

(PS — Feel perfectly free to point out in the comment section why the move of Whassamatta U. from Conference X to Conference Y shouldn’t count as a real move or that Leghorn Tech moved in 1943, not 1944 as we might have typo’d.  But please realize that doing so only proves that you’re spending far too much time looking at the trees and not enough time studying the forest.)

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Legal Threat From Baylor Halts A&M/SEC Expansion For Now

When Nebraska left the Big 12, no one sued.  When Colorado left the Big 12, no one sued.  When TCU and BYU left the Mountain West, no one sued.  When Boise State left the WAC, no one sued.

But with Texas A&M set to leave the Big 12 for the SEC, the threat of lawsuit has slowed the process.

The Big 12 last week waived its right to litigation which appeared to open the door for A&M and the SEC to officially consummate their relationship.  That was expected to happen today.  But the SEC’s presidents want assurances that no Big 12 school will act on its own to sue.

Baylor has not given that assurance.

“We were notified yesterday afternoon that at least one Big 12 institution had withdrawn its previous consent and was considering legal action,” said Florida president Bernie Machen in a statement released by the SEC this morning.  “The SEC has stated that to consider an institution for membership, there must be no contractual hindrances to its departure.  The SEC voted unanimously to accept Texas A&M University as a member upon receiving acceptable reconfirmation that the Big 12 and its members have reaffirmed the letter dated September 2, 2011.”

A&M’s announcement and celebration are now on hold.  The SEC has voted to accept A&M — unanimously, as expected — but not without Baylor agreeing not to sue.  So the ball is clearly in Baylor’s court.

Baylor and president Kenneth Starr are literally holding Texas A&M and every other school in the country hostage.  They are preventing other universities from acting in their own best interests. 

Nevermind the fact that Baylor high-tailed it for the Big 12 back in 1996 with nary a thought for old SWC mates TCU, SMU, Rice and Houston.

In addition to releasing its statement, the SEC also released the Big 12′s letter sent on September 2nd.  The letter from commissioner Dan Beebe read in part: “We both agreed it is in the best interests of each of our conferences and our member institutions of higher education to waive any and all legal actions by either conference and its members resulting from admission of Texas A&M into the SEC, as long as such admission is confirmed publicly by September 8, 2011.”


UPDATE – Some have pointed out that the remaining Big East schools sued the ACC when it absconded with Boston College, Miami and Virginia Tech in 2003.  But as we recently noted on the site, that lawsuit was eventually settled for a paltry $5 million — in league terms — two years later.

That suit was not the act of one school, it didn’t feature a billion-dollar claim (as has been suggested regarding an SEC suit), and it was not aimed at one, lone conference commissioner (as it’s been suggested that Baylor might sue Mike Slive personally).  This one appears to be a first of its kind move by the Bears.

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Arkansas-LSU Figures To Be A Good One

When Arkansas joined the Southeastern Conference, LSU was expected to become the Hogs’ main rival.  Nearly 20 years later, the Razorbacks really haven’t developed a heated rivalry with anyone in the league.  Not by the old SWC standards. 

Even Frank Broyles admitted as much this past year.

But while the Arkansas-LSU game hasn’t produced much hate, it has produced some good football games.  The Tigers hold the advantage since the Hogs moved East, 11 wins to seven.  LSU has also won the Golden Boot trophy in five of the last seven years. 

But the last five games have been doozies:


2009 — LSU 33, Arkansas 30

2008 — Arkansas 31, LSU 30

2007 — Arkansas 50, LSU 48 (in 3 overtimes)

2006 — LSU 31, Arkansas 26

2005 — LSU 19, Arkansas 17


Average those scores out and here’s what you get:

LSU 32.2
Arkansas 30.8

I think most SEC fans would enjoy a good 32-31 game this weekend, don’t you?

A little sidenote of trivia for you — Did you know that Arkansas and LSU have played more games in Shreveport than in any other city?  From 1913 to 1956 the two teams met in Shreveport 25 times.

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