The SEC scheduling hostage crisis enters another day.

The momentum towards keeping one permanent cross-divisional game on the conference schedule grows.  This weekend we heard from South Carolina’s president that there was a consensus towards hanging on to it, and now Greg McGarity sounds cautiously hopeful about it.

“I do feel better,” McGarity said Sunday. “The tone of the conversations that everyone had sort of gave the impression that everyone had a sense, at least the majority had a sense, of liking the rivalry game with an opponent from the opposite division. The tone led us to believe that this has a good opportunity of moving forward.”

If you assume that they keep the game and that the NCAA doesn’t change the conditions for hosting a conference championship game, that would seem to leave the SEC with three options (format in order of divisional games, rotating cross-divisional games and permanent cross-divisional game):

  1. Eight games (6-1-1, with home-and-home against teams in the other division).  You could argue that this would be the smallest variation from the current arrangement, as the only change would be dropping one team from the other division to accommodate the added in-division game.  The problem is that you’d be putting a lot of matchups on a very long rotation.  Telling CBS it’ll only have a crack at a Florida-Alabama regular season game once a decade or so isn’t the best way to get it to open the checkbook.  And telling the fans that they’ll have to pay a similar price to make sure there’s one more extra special cupcake game on the home schedule for which they’ll be expected to pony up for isn’t likely to go over much better.
  2. Eight games (6-1-1, without home-and-home against teams in the other division).  I forget who tossed the idea out the other week of decoupling the rotating cross-divisional games from a home-and-home basis, but I can see the ADs gravitating towards it for one simple reason – it makes the broadcasters happier, since the frequency of the marquee cross-divisional matchups can be better managed than under a home-and-home scenario.  Fans buying tickets are just as screwed, though.
  3. Nine games (6-2-1).  From a fan standpoint it’s the most logical choice.  From a broadcast standpoint, it’s the most attractive option.  But the coaches dislike the added competition.  And the ADs are in the middle.

As for the ninth conference game, I suspect there’s a price point where the ADs’ doubts go away and they override the coaches’ objections.  The question is whether ESPN and CBS are willing to pay it.  If not, that second option may start looking buttah and buttah.

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25 Comments

Filed under SEC Football

25 responses to “The SEC scheduling hostage crisis enters another day.

  1. cube

    I think if you polled the coaches and they were being completely honest, the average number of conference games that they would prefer would be in the 5 to 7 range. Why anyone would listen to them in this situation is beyond me.

  2. Mayor of Dawgtown

    The real problem that 9 conference games presents is that it is an odd number. Some teams will have 4 SEC home games and 5 SEC away games. Others will have 5 SEC home games and 4 SEC away games. In Georgia’s situation with the WLOCP, UGA could find itself with a schedule some years of only 3 SEC home games, 5 SEC away games and then the game in Jacksonville. That would be a big disadvantage. Hopefully that won’t happen but there is no guarantee.

    • There are already scheduling issues in any given year. As long as things balance out over time, that’s about as good as you can expect.

      • TomReagan

        I think the bigger problem with the 9 game schedule is that McGarity has stated that he has the same opinion on minimum home games that Evans did. Which makes me worry that the 9 game scenario dooms either Jacksonville or Tech. Clemson or any other legitimate out of conference opponent would cerainly be a thing of the past.

        • They won’t ditch Jax as long as it’s more profitable than playing home-and-home.

          • TomReagan

            I hope you’re right. But I still say that the combination of Jacksonville, Tech, and a 9 game conference schedule would make decent out of conference games (at least home and homes) a very, very rare occurence.

            • cube

              Probably but they are already becoming a rare occurrence.

              • Mayor of Dawgtown

                My point with the above post is that if there is any change in number of conference games it should be straight to 10 SEC games or stay at 8. I personally prefer scenario #2 stated by the Senator above if the SEC stays at 8.

    • cube

      Then that would mean we would get 5 SEC home games and 3 SEC road games in the other years. That’s not going to happen. Not only do Georgia and Florida not want that kind of lopsidedness, the rest of the conference doesn’t want it either.

      I’d be more than willing to bet that, in a 9 game conference schedule format, Georgia and Florida would get 4 true home games and 4 true road games every year, with the Cocktail Party being the 5th home or away game for each school.

      • Mayor of Dawgtown

        No. UGA would have only 4 SEC home games plus the fictional “UGA home game year” in JAX in those years you discussed at the beginning of your post. As for the 4-4-JAX Game format, I also would hope that format would occur but I have very little faith in the SEC front office. What is fair seems to never be a consideration with that bunch.

        • cube

          I think you’re confused. In the years I was referring to, I was counting the Cocktail Party as a road game. I did that b/c you were counting it as a home game in the years you were referring to.

          Allow me to summarize. IF (and that’s a huge IF) the SEC went absolutely haywire and went to a scheduling format where the Cocktail Party counted as a home game for the home team in years that they only get 4 home games, then, conversely, the Cocktail Party would count as a road game in years that they only get 4 road games. That means a rotation of 3-5-1 (3 home, 5 road, & Jax) and 5-3-1 (5 home, 3 road, & Jax).

          But I stand by my assessment that there is NO WAY the other schools in the SEC go for that, especially the other East schools. It gives a significant advantage to the team that only has to play 3 true road games in a 9 game schedule. And either Georgia or Florida would have that advantage every single year.

  3. AusDawg85

    This all assumes we stay at 14 in the conference. I suggest that is a bad assumption.

  4. TomReagan

    Maybe I’m missing something, but why do the 8 game schedules ensure one more cupcake game that fans will have to pay for? Wouldn’t either 8 game plan have the same number of home conference games in any given season as what we have now?

    • That comment was really meant more in the context of comparing an 8-game schedule with a 9-game one. Probably should have made that clearer.

      • Cojones

        Thanks. You always have to make it clearer for mental indigents like me.

      • TomReagan

        Thanks. I’m still not as confident as you are that we don’t lose something we don’t want to if we go to 9 games, but we’ll see. I’d rather keep Auburn than anything we may lose, so if that’s the choice, then I suppose there’s no other option.

        I just know McGarity has made some unequivocal statements about minimum numbers of home games. So, I’m worried, and have been since this talk started in the first place.

        I will say, however, that I believe that Missouri will be a better addition to the yearly schedule than the average SEC West team. I’m sure that I’m in the minority on that, though.

        • Mayor of Dawgtown

          FWIW I agree with your comment on adding Missouri, Tom. In defense of McGarity, if UGA lost one home game on a regular basis because of this so that there were only 5 home games played at Sanford Stadium, when some of our rivals routinely have 7 home games (Auburn is a good example), there would be crying and wailing and gnashing of teeth the like of which you never have seen before from a rather significant percentage of the Dawg Nation.

          • cube

            So not only do you think that the SEC as a whole is crazy enough to allow either Georgia or Florida to play only 3 road games every year (in a 9 game schedule) but you also think that we would be weak enough to accept our 3 home game years in years that we play AT Tech, resulting in only 2 non-conference home games and 5 home games total?

            Come on man.

            • Mayor of Dawgtown

              Cube, Florida has such an advantage NOW and nobody says or does anything about it. In even numbered years the Gators get 4 SEC home games plus the game in Jacksonville with only 3 true road games. UGA , this season, only has 3 SEC games in Sanford Stadium. Your confidence in the “fairness” of the SEC front office is misplaced IMHO. You are right about the “weakness” business though. But UGA would have to threaten to leave the SEC–and mean it–to get the SEC to back down. Do you really want that? But that’s OK–believe what you want to believe. As for the 10 SEC game schedule likely it won’t happen since the SEC is balking at 9 SEC games–but that doesn’t mean it wouldn’t be fairer, particularly if/when there are 16 teams in the SEC–which is going to happen probably by the end of ’12.

              • cube

                That’s not true at all. 3 road games and 4 home games in an 8 game schedule is MUCH different than 3 road games and 5 home games in a 9 game schedule. If you’re going to have a neutral site game, the way the SEC currently handles the balance of home and away for Georgia and Florida is the fairest way they can do it.

                By the way, are you seriously trying to sell the lie that Florida has an advantage right now and we don’t? B/c it sure sounds like it (hopefully, you know that we have the same SEC schedule format as Florida).

                As for believing that UGA would have to threaten to leave the conference in your implausible scenario of us getting stuck with 3 home games in a 9 game conf schedule in years that we don’t play Tech at home…well, I really don’t even know how to respond. Your whole scenario is so far out there…you might as well start talking about the moon landing being faked or Obama being an undercover Muslim radical and puppet for Iranian mullahs.

                You are really, really, REALLY stretching trying to convince everyone of the evils of a 9 game conference schedule.

                Peace out brotha.

  5. Slaw Dawg

    Prefer option 3, could live with option 2. Since I consider the WLOCP a true neutral site game, the 9 game SEC schedule should leave us with 4 H and 4 A. With at least one cupcake, plus 2 other games, that locks in 6 home games a year, 7 in years with double twinkies. I got no problem with that.

    Bottom line, there were certain birthrights of native born Georgians when I came into this world. Nature provided wild plums, blackberries, scuppernongs, honeysuckle and catfish in abundance; in your very own yard, you could grow the most tart peaches, the sweetest melons (with seeds you can spit, dammit!) and pecans in endless even numbers for hand cracking. And, come autumn, your Dawgs would suit up against the Gators in Jacksonville, bring furious justice to them cheaters from the Plains, and remind the NATS who really does run the damn state. Barbequing the chickens and skinning the Carolina Cats were added special bonuses. Like others, I regret the loss of Clem’s Son from the schedule, but we must be firm that no other particles of our birthright will be surrendered. So while I’d prefer home and away with our irregular SEC brethren, if the H and the A have to be separated by a few years in order to maintain our birthrights, so be it.

    • Cojones

      Never saw the logicl reasoning behind our hate before. As a scientist, I thank you. I thought it was just hormones causing my hardons at that time of year.

    • Brendan

      This is the best thing I’ve read in at least a month. You, sir, are a true Dawg.

  6. Keese

    I’ve been saying it for weeks! The easiest thing to do is to drop the home and home return trips for cross division matchups.