It’s the one Roy Kramer inaugurated in 1992: configuring the conference to maximize television revenues. And, my friends, that sacred tradition lives on today. In fact, “lives on” may be selling Mike Slive short. “Thrives” may be a more accurate description. Just ask SEC
TV hatchet man consultant Larry Templeton.
Television networks want more attractive SEC football games to start and finish seasons in the future, SEC consultant Larry Templeton said.
That will be among the topics discussed when SEC athletics directors meet in February to create 14-team schedules for 2013 and beyond. The major issues remain whether to keep permanent cross-divisional opponents and how to rotate the other cross-divisional game.
Templeton, a former Mississippi State athletics director who heads the SEC’s transition team since the league expanded, said the ADs will also discuss whether to schedule more conference games in the first two weeks and last two weeks of seasons.
“TV wants them,” Templeton said. “For instance, right now the next-to-last weekend of the season is a real weak weekend for us as it relates to games that we want to put on television as part of our conference package. Now that we have more games, we need to space some of them more.”
But wait! As they say in those cheezy ShamWow commercials, there’s more! Take it away, Larry:
… TV factors into future SEC scheduling in another way. Assuming the SEC stays at eight conference games and wants to keep permanent partners for every team, it would take 12 years to play every cross-division team twice compared to five years right now. That’s a longer wait for TV to broadcast some high-profile games such as Alabama-Florida and Auburn-Florida.
Templeton continues to float the idea of eliminating round-robin schedules within divisions to create flexibility for more cross-divisional games. [Emphasis added.] To stage a conference championship game, NCAA rules require leagues to have two divisions of six or more schools that play round-robin within their division.
If the SEC decided to pursue changing that rule, Templeton said the conference would have to vote at the league’s spring meetings in late May to sponsor NCAA legislation. “I don’t know if any other conferences have any desire to do that,” he said. “I don’t know if our ADs want to do that. I think it’s something we ought to look at.”
Divisions without round robin scheduling… what’ll they think of next? The step after that would simply be to outsource scheduling to the networks and let them pick which schools play on a week to week basis. Or the SEC could auction off the weekly schedule to the highest bidder. (I probably shouldn’t be giving Templeton any ideas.)
Somewhere along the way, you begin to wonder what the existence of a conference is about, other than having an address to where CBS can mail the checks.