“We already play in the toughest conference in the world. Why would we make it more difficult on ourselves?”

Mr. Conventional Wisdom checks the SEC’s pulse on the question of going to a nine-game conference schedule.  He thinks it’s inevitable.

But several developments appear to be pushing the SEC to a nine-game schedule soon rather than later:

  The Pac-12 and Big 12 already play nine games and the ACC will do so next season when both Syracuse and Pittsburgh join the league.

  The Big Ten and Pac-12 tried to work out a scheduling relationship but couldn’t overcome the logistics. As a result, the Big Ten will probably take another look at a nine-game conference schedule.

 When the four-game playoff begins in 2014, the selection committee will look at a number of criteria, including strength of schedule. An undefeated Auburn got left out of the BCS championship game in 2004 and Commissioner Mike Slive vowed that would never happen again.

“We thoroughly vetted this idea of scheduling and we took a vote and chose to stay at eight games,” said Slive. “But we are also mindful that moving forward our strength of schedule will be a factor. I can’t tell you what we will decide. But I can tell you that this is something that we’re going to watch.”

Given that it’s Barnhart saying this, I’d say it’s worth giving it some very solid weight.  He also makes a good point about where the real point of contention may lie.

Within the conference, the argument lines break down like this: The schools at the top of this conference that are competing for the national championship are willing to play nine conference games, a good intersectional game and two teams they can beat at home. But there are other teams in the league that need at least three guaranteed wins in non-conference games in order to have any shot at a bowl.

For me, though, the most interesting part of his piece is what he doesn’t say.  There’s absolutely no mention of TV’s role in wanting more  – and paying for more, of course – conference product to broadcast as a factor in expanding the conference schedule.  That’s hardly an insignificant matter.  So why do you suppose Barnhart omitted it?

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19 Comments

Filed under SEC Football

19 responses to ““We already play in the toughest conference in the world. Why would we make it more difficult on ourselves?”

  1. The other Doug

    The guys at the SEC who handed him the talking points asked him not to mention money and TV.

  2. Scott W.

    It would place his meal ticket in jeopardy?

  3. ChicagoDawg

    “So why do you suppose Barnhart omitted it?” …. because Tony has effectively become a ghost writer for Mike Slive and to mention the heavy hand of TV would come off as crass and indelicate. Just as you would not expect Claude Felton to speak out of turn, why expect anything different from Tony?

  4. ChicagoDawg

    By the way Senator, I thought we were cracking down on sock puppetry around here? So what gives with the special accommodation you are extending to the Commish?

    • Lamb Chop

      There you guys go again insulting people of fabric! I am sick and tired of this kind of discrimination! On Monday I am contacting my attorney about this and he will get a restraining order from a judge! Sock puppets have feelings too you know!!!!

  5. Nahila

    The answer to a 9 game SEC schedule is to bring in two more football playing Schools that can add additional geographic media advantages but also not be powerhouses but good enough to have that large fan base that would produce more TV revenue to the SEC. Try Central Florida University to bring in Orlando, try University of Louisville to bring in Louisville, bring back Ga. tech to bring in Atlanta more, try South Florida University to bring in Tampa, Southern Methodist University to bring in Dallas. University of Memphis to bring in Memphis. Obviously there are territorial wars, weaknesses and strengths with these suggestions but the Idea is sound so that it spreads the wealth and the weaknesses of the teams where the bottom half (8) teams would have a chance at balancing their won-loss records and it would not hinder the elite teams being considered for a national championship spot. Ideas never hurt but the teams like Kentucky, The 2 Mississippi teams, and Vanderbilt who have struggled in the past with limited success with tough elite SEC teams could have a better won- lost record within the SEC even though it might not improve their overall record when a ninth SEC team replaces a lesser opponent scheduled outside the conference. Bringing in Miami, Va. Tech, Clemson, or North Carolina State would be a mistake because of bringing in tougher foes.

    • Mayor of Dawgtown

      The schools you mentioned are all third rate universities except for Tech (which we do NOT need in the SEC). These schools would not be compatible. Better to raid the ACC of its higher academic schools like UVa or UNC–which won’t happen.

  6. Dog in Fla

    Tony Bagels knows which side his biscuits are buttered on. When it comes to the vig on the television racket money, it’s always omerta time.

  7. Cosmic Dawg

    The SEC is the toughest conference, but not by so much that we can ignore the nine-game schedules of some of the other conferences. This year the only true juggernauts of the SEC are LSU and Alabama. Depending on the way the scheduling falls, I wonder if there will be Big 10, Big 12, and even Pac 12 schools that will have comparably difficult schedules to a number of SEC teams?

    We need to get off our high horse just a little, if for no other reason than to have a *little* grace. There are other tough football teams and other tough conferences.

    The biggest thing to me is I that I could really care less about watching 3 or so games on our schedule this year. That’s sad for someone who checks in on a college football blog every day in the offseason.

    • Cosmic Dawg

      “The SEC is the toughest conference, but not by so much that we can ignore the nine-game schedules of some of the other conferences.”

      Well, maybe we could…I may just be inventing arguments because I hate cupcake games.

    • Mayor of Dawgtown

      One of the advantages of old age is that you, over the fullness of time, get to see it all. “The only true juggernauts of the SEC are LSU and Alabama.” That’s sort of like saying the best team ever in the SEC is the one that won the last SEC championship and/or the last BCS National Championship. Everybody thinks that whatever team that is good right now is the best that ever was. I guess the Auburn folks think that they had a “juggernaut” in 2010. How about FU? Does winning the SEC Championship umpteen times in the last 20 years and the BCSNCG twice in 3 years qualify (three times if you go back to ’96 which is before the BCS)? On the flip side I can remember in the not too distant past some 4-7 Bama and LSU teams. They didn’t look like “juggernauts” then. All it would take for Bama to revert to a 4 win team would be for Saban to get caught on a motorcycle with a blonde that he put on the payroll as a consultant. Same with LSU. Every year some team has to win the SEC–there is a winner each year. In point of fact, Bama has only won the SEC Championship 1 time in the past 15 years or so (forgive me for not being absolutely specific on the years but this isn’t important enough to look up). Yeah, and this year’s new and improved detergent is the best there ever was and none will ever be better, too.

      • Cosmic Dawg

        *This year*

        “…the only true juggernauts of the SEC are LSU and Alabama.”

        Just a preseason prediction based on what it looks like we’re in for this year. I hope Georgia replaces both of those programs as king of the hill. I’d like that for CMR, too.

        Was just trying to say that overall the SEC doesn’t seem to have as much power from top to bottom as in some years past, but admittedly that was probably just a poor back-door argument for a 9-game conference schedule. It’s always possible that Georgia’s three cupcakes could make the difference at the end of the year.

        But it was also an attempt – probably unneccessary – to acknowledge that there are some other excellent programs and strong conferences in the country, well-represented in the top 25 at the end of last year. While the proof of the run of crystal footballs for our conference is not lost on me, our conference leaders (and a lot of our conference fans) don’t seem to acknowledge that many non-SEC teams have to play hard schedules in tough conferences, too…I don’t imagine Michigan or Baylor are shedding any tears for SOS this year…

  8. Reptillicide

    I think it’s fair to say the observant readers among us pretty much agree that Barnhart lost all journalistic integrity and credibility after last year’s moonlighting as the SEC’s propaganda minister. I see articles written by him concerning the league’s plans for the future and I just skip right over them.

    • UGA76

      i still like him and he brings a lot to the table as far as knowledge about college football and he does love the Dawgs. there’s no doubt about that. hell i got to take up for a member of my class of 76. i can remember when he started out with the greensboro news and record and then came to atlanta and covered the acc. anyway i love me some tony bagels :)

  9. A little housekeeping Senator, why not file this article under,”It’s Just Business”Both Barnhart and the SEC /TV complex are just doing what is in their self interest, economically speaking. Admittedly, not in the ticket buying fan’s best interest but their own and therefore this article and the push towards 9 conference games is to be expected until it hurts ticket sales and maybe not even than.(By the way tickets are still available for the home opener,Fla. Atlantic and Vandy,I’m just say’in)