The tin-foil hat theory of SEC scheduling

You know, were I Les Miles or Steve Spurrier, I don’t think I’d waste my breath complaining about unbalanced conference scheduling.  I’d be raising bloody murder about this, instead.

First, the SEC: The conference is only scheduled through the 2013 season, but McGarity said the hope is to have a scheduling plan for 2014-17 approved at the SEC meetings in Destin in early June.

Georgia can’t really do anything in its non-conference scheduling until it knows the dates and opponents for its SEC games over the next few years.

“We are basically on hold until we receive the SEC schedule for ’14 and beyond,” McGarity said. “Because hopefully that will have dates, and obviously opponents. So that we can start to plug in our (non-conference) opponents.”

And yes, it would be an eight-game schedule that will be approved in Destin.

Two years in and these guys still don’t have a scheduling gameplan in place.  And the most they’re prepared to come up with in the short run is a three-year deal.

McGarity blames the SEC’s uncertainty on the new postseason…

There hasn’t been that much discussion about a nine-game schedule, according to McGarity, but it’s not something to rule out. It depends in large part on what comes out of the football playoff meetings.

“We continue to be educated on what the definition of strength of schedule means,” McGarity said. “What are other conferences doing in that regard. So there’s a lot of things to really discuss if we do go to a nine-game model. But we have not talked about that other than just in theory, to see what some models of that would look like.”

… but what if it’s something else?  What if – and this is nothing more than perverse speculation on my part, mind you – this is what Slive and the ADs really want?

Put it this way:  for a variety of reasons (seventh home game revenue for the ADs, easier OOC scheduling for the coaches, for starters), let’s say the conference wants to stick with an eight-game format.  But Slive is running into real resistance from his TV partners about throwing more money into the broadcast deal without being given more product.  If you won’t offer CBS and ESPN quantity, why not offer quality as a compromise by offering to rejigger the cross-division schedules on a regular basis in order to cherry pick the best East-West matchups?  The best way to do that is by not getting too far ahead of things timewise.  Sticking to a three-year framework should give the SEC a handle on which programs will likely be the most attractive viewing options.

If you’re a coach running a top ten conference program, this sort of arrangement would be a downer for your hopes of winning the SEC and maybe playing for something bigger.  But it would make for better TV.  Hmm… wonder who wins that battle.

Like I said, I have zero proof that this is what’s going on.  But the sad thing is that I can’t totally dismiss it either.  Call me crazy.

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16 Comments

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16 responses to “The tin-foil hat theory of SEC scheduling

  1. Hogbody Spradlin

    You’re getting close to Grassy Knoll there fella.

  2. Purely TV negotiation and nothing more – Slive really screwed this round of expansion up by not finding an ACC school in a good TV market (VA Tech, UNC or NC State) to balance the divisions. Now he has to find a way to maximize revenue without breaking up traditional rivalries that contribute to the marketability of his product.

  3. Macallanlover

    Viewing the lack of foresight and management expertise I see in both the SEC and NCAA decision makers, they remind me of what I can only imagine goes on with power companies and cable companies. All of those mentioned seem to survive only because they have a monopoly. Painful to watch the SEC flounder with its most visible product.

    Competent organizations run their businesses because they hire talented people who understand the market and set strategic plans to maximize their success while tweaking on a tactical basis as needed. Only small businesses send their CEOs to hotel convention venues to make decisions for their organizations who wait back at home.

  4. That bit about the 2014 very nearly made me scream “BULL F_CKING SH_T!!” in the middle of my office.

    How does the top conference in the country have a league office this poorly run?

  5. Mayor of Dawgtown

    “Call me crazy.” OK, you’re crazy.

  6. FCDore

    It really is time for Slive to just ignore the dissenting ADs/coaches and just go straight to the Presidents to bless a nine-game schedule, explaining that it means (1) more money from TV contracts that exceeds the loss of revenue from one less home game, (2) more frequent games against cross-division opponents & an easier way to preserve key rivalries, and (3) one less Sun Belt team to drag down strength-of-schedule in the new playoff era. The downside is that some teams might finish 5-7 instead of 6-6 and miss out on a money-losing bowl trip to beautiful Birmingham or Shreveport.

    • David K

      So what happens to Florida vs FSU? SCarolina/Clemson? Dawgs/Tech? Georgia has the easiest decision as they probably keep Tech on the schedule, but Florida and USC would have to drop their rivalry games.

      • boscatar

        Or, they can drop their FCS or Sun Belt games? If the Gators dropped the Seminoles so they could play Jacksonville St. or Florida Atlantic, I don’t think that would go over well with the fans…

  7. Krautdawg

    “We continue to be educated on what the definition of strength of schedule means.”

    Interpretation 1 (non-paranoid): we want to make sure that a 1-loss SEC team, or a 2-loss loser of the SECCG has a shot at the playoff.

    Interpretation 2 (paranoid): if we rejigger cross-division rivalries to engineer more movable product, those tough games won’t just generate revenue; they’ll also be seen by the Playoff Committee as “stronger schedules.”

    • Dog in Fla

      Interpretation 3 (borderline): Is Greg being educated at the same time Mark continues to be educated by watching film and thinking about learning how to place-kick? If so, who is watching the store during school hours and are they closer than 500 feet?