Feel the Lesmentum!

Well, looky here – Kevin Scarbinsky and Andy Staples follow in Matt Hayes’ footsteps and come out in favor of Les Miles’ campaign to end the SEC’s permanent cross-division rivalries.  It’s a veritable media groundswell.  It’s kind of funny watching the same institution that’s routinely mocked Miles for some of his less than brilliant game management at times find wisdom in the man’s judgment now.  (If Chris Huston is the next to chime in favorably, I quit.)

The funny thing about all this is that Miles has said embarrassing stuff about scheduling for years.  But now he’s being taken seriously.  I don’t get it.

Scarbinsky’s piece is easy to dismiss.  It’s more of a giant “boy, do Auburn and Tennessee really suck these days” wankfest than anything else.  Staples takes a more thoughtful approach, although in the end, it doesn’t get him to a different destination.

The SEC has tossed tradition before, and sometimes with happy consequences. Florida and Tennessee played quite irregularly before the divisional split. From 1992-2006, theirs was the league’s most exciting rivalry. South Carolina and Georgia, who played some fun games when South Carolina was an independent, have become excellent border-state rivals. Besides, the Iron Bowl, the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party and the Egg Bowl remain untouchable thanks to divisional alignments. So the league can still cling to some traditions while also ushering in a bright — and lucrative — future with a scheduling philosophy that gives teams a more even road to the SEC and national titles.

If you’re Mike Slive, “bright” and “lucrative” are redundant terms.

I know Andy’s a Florida guy so ignoring pre-1990 SEC history is wired into his DNA, but that Florida-Tennessee reference is too brief.  In the old days before divisions, conference teams never played round robin schedules, so yes, some matchups were infrequent.  But others were forged over a long period to become part and parcel of the SEC’s identity.  And even though the ’92 expansion was a money grab at its heart, Roy Kramer was smart enough to know that it was important to preserve the legacy of games like Alabama-Tennessee and Auburn-Georgia because they helped define the conference even as it changed.

Behind Miles’ complaint is a pernicious attitude that winning the SEC should be viewed as little more than a means to an end and that the only goal of scheduling should be as a useful tool to help the powerhouse schools find their way into the national postseason picture.  Now he’s a coach, so I get where he’s coming from.  But as a fan and as someone who appreciates the history behind the Oldest Rivalry in the South, that doesn’t mean I have to like it.

And Staples is kidding himself with his “cling to some traditions” silver lining.  Because if there’s one thing we know, it’s that we all know what the SEC will do with its scheduling in the end – carefully weigh all of its options and choose the one that makes the most money, history be damned.  As I’ve said before, that’s the only tradition the SEC believes in these days.

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UPDATE:  Barnhart reiterates why we can’t have nice things.

I can tell you that the last time this issue was seriously discussed in Destin it was very contentious. Missouri and Texas A&M were coming into the conference and one side felt strongly that at 14 teams, the SEC couldn’t afford to hold on to the old scheduling model for the sake of those two traditional rivalries. The old model survived but there was an understanding that the issue would be revisited.

He says LSU doesn’t have the votes for change.  That may be, but this issue isn’t going away.  And you can thank the lack of thought that went into the last round of conference expansion for that.

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40 Comments

Filed under Media Punditry/Foibles, SEC Football

40 responses to “Feel the Lesmentum!

  1. Go Dawgs!

    Goodbye to the Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry, hello to playing in Starkville and Fayetteville more often. Greeeeeeeeeeeeat. Thanks.

    • AthensHomerDawg

      I feel ya. Starkville is just not my choice of a great road trip. Just how did the SEC fan base get surrounded by these azzholes anyway?

  2. I think the majority of SEC fans believe the Florida-LSU game is one of the perks of the divisional split as well. And, if this is about paving the road to national titles, don’t each of those teams have a pair of titles during the time they played such imbalanced schedules?

    If you want more even competition, go to nine games.

    • Go Dawgs!

      THANK YOU. I look forward to that game and make sure that I’ll be able to see it every year. I’ve pulled off the road on the way back from Athens to belly up to a bar just to watch it. You can’t tell me that game doesn’t get ratings every year. LSU-Florida has been the CBS primetime game often. Think our television partners don’t want it? Les is being a bitch because he has a tough game. Cry me a river. I used to respect him for the way his team attacked a beast of a schedule in 2011 with an undefeated regular season slate. Now? Much less so. Nobody cried for Georgia when Auburn was good (and they will be again, don’t fool yourself).

    • Chopdawg

      Expand the SEC to 16 teams and go to 10 SEC games/team; drop the Buffalos and Florida Atlantics. Georgia could still play Tech and Clemson every year.

  3. Bright Idea

    Missouri EVERY year, Auburn only occasionally. Go figure.

  4. Mayor of Dawgtown

    This kind of thinking lead directly to the elimination of the annual Oklahoma-Nebraska game (one of the biggest rivalries in college sports) which, in turn, ultimately lead Nebraska to leave the Big 12. These writers don’t understand the importance of rivalry games in college football. What they advocate is dangerous to the game and to the SEC as an institution. Miles should know better but he has an agenda that has nothing to do with what is best for the SEC, college football or the fans.

  5. eagledawy

    Idiots. This stuff is so cyclical. Why don’t we just kick one team out of the conference and play a 12 game round-robin. That’s the only truly fair way to handle. Otherwise you’ll get some years with a team on the upswing or years with them on a downswing. Heck, we can’t even count on Vandy being terrible every year anymore.

    • AthensHomerDawg

      Kentucky is there for ya.

    • Eagle you are correct. It truly is the only fair way. Don’t worry Vandy CF is still a Greek Tragedy. You can always count on that.

    • Mayor of Dawgtown

      I have long been an advocate of something close to what you suggest (go back to 10 teams and play a round robin schedule–it’s the only way to determine a true conference champion) but it won’t work with 13 teams playing 12 conference games. Each team has rivals that are OOC games. UGA has Tech. FU has FSU and Miami (although not every year). South Carolina has Clemmons. Bama plays a major OOC game most years rotating opponents (Michigan, Clemmons, VT, etc.). Teams like UK and Vandy (substitute UT for Vandy for the last few years) have to play OOC teams they can beat to have any wins at all. Plus, every SEC school gets revenue from playing OOC teams that visit, get the hell beat of of ‘em, then take home a check. That said, I have always felt that the best size for a conference was 7 teams. Each member would play 6 conference games (3 at home and 3 away) could play 2 traditional rivals alternating years so one is always at home and the other away, and play the rest as home games with teams you play without a return game commitment. The fans would get EIGHT home games that way every year and the conference members could pad their schedules with enough cupcakes so that most would be assured of a bowl every year. Why don’t we get the SEC East to secede from the SEC, kick out Mizzou and do just that? We could then play Auburn as an OOC game and all would be right with the world.

  6. Bulldog Homer ya know

    If the SEC drops traditional cross division rivalries for the $s, Auburn and UGA should schedule non-conference games the years we are not scheduled for conference games. I would take the non-conference Auburn game and drop the Tech game.

    • Not so fast my friend! We cannot drop the Tech game….evah. How can Auburn be a non conference game?

      • Bulldog Homer ya know

        The years when UGA does not have a conference with Auburn, we schedule a game with Auburn. It is a college football game which is not part of the SEC schedule of football games. Is their mention in the SEC rule book, by laws, what have you stating we cannot play a conference team out side of the conference schedule? I don’t know. I hear you on Tech. I prefer playing Auburn every year over playing Tech every year.

        • Silver Creek Dawg

          It’s been done in baseball (I know, more conference games, more games, period). We played Alabama in a neutral site game for two years straight when they weren’t on our SEC schedule (Hoover one year and Gwinnett the next).

  7. Cojones

    Nine games. Mo’ Lesmentum? For the “Big’”10″, maybe, but not for us on the competition scale.

    Now if the Delaney wants to place SEC teams in his OOC schedule, I might go for it. Same goes for Pac12 and “Big” 12. Let’s have a few interconference round robins.

  8. Rusty

    I guess this is going to happen. Saw some guys playing cricket yesterday, maybe I’ll learn to feel the excitement. CFB is doomed.

  9. South FL Dawg

    Miles cries about the SEC schedule because there is no other obstacle to the natty when your interstate rival is Tulane.

  10. Connor

    I think the worst possible solution to this self-inflicted problem is 8 games with no permanent opponents. That’s just lazy and short-sighted.

    • Dawg in Beaumont

      Exactly. A 9 game conference schedule greatly reduces the inequity of permanent cross-over opponents.

      As someone else said recently, I have to begrudgingly give Auburn credit for not crying over getting curb-stomped repeatedly by their permanent East opponent (us).

  11. ZeroPointZero

    Just trade Alabama and Auburn for Missouri and Kentucky and everything will be fine. Les would be fine with that trade I’m sure. It would end the SEC West powerhouse talk for sure. On second thought, F that noise.

  12. Debby Balcer

    Les is a crybaby for all the west is such a hard division and then we have to play Bama every year talk. Auburn does look good they din’t cry and they play Bama and Georgia. I hope we give LAU a beat down when they come into our house this year.

  13. JasonC

    Of course, if LSU swapped Florida for Vandy or Kentucky, Les would promptly quit his bitching and tout the keeping the long-standing rivalries between Auburn & UGA and Bama & Tenn.

  14. mdcgtp

    Call me crazy, but I see both sides of this. A rotation ensures that everyone plays every program equally. Sometimes that results in getting a traditional power “down” and sometime it results in getting them “up”. My guess is that by its nature a rotation is more equitable than “permanent” crossovers where Bama has in fact benefited from UT relative to LSU playing UF. Obviously, if Butch Jones turns out to be the next great thing and Muschamp’s UF team reverts a bit this season, Les won’t hesitate to keep his opinions to himself on permanent opponents. That said, its not as if Les has made a principled argument. He has made a self serving one that deserves many of the potshots that have come with it.

    What bothers me more is the old sore that is only a year old that won’t go away!

    The fact that we are “in this stupid mess” because the powers that be saw fit to add another Auburn and Ole Miss to the conference (read A&M and Missouri) is absolutely galling to me. I HATE (and almost NEVER use that word) the fact that Missouri is in our conference. Absolutely HATE it. Obviously, A&M has enough tradition and proximity to talent that, with the right coach, it is certainly capable of being considered alongside the big six of UGA, bama, florida, ut, auburn, and lsu or certainly in the realm of Arky and Carolina. I just don’t know why we “needed” it nor am I convinced that the incremental revenues from annexing those TV markets will SIGNIFICANTLY exceed the cost associated with their slice of the revenues.

    My LONG WINDED question is I want some smart reporter to ask Slive the following question….

    “What was the NET incremental revenue per existing SEC member from adding these two?” If its a couple million dollars annually, the next question should be. “Do you think that was really worth it to NOT ONLY diluted your product but we have disrupted the competitive balance in ways can’t be dismissed?”

  15. fatman48

    The Lord must have loved Assholes because he made so many of them…