If you’re looking for the canary in the coal mine on what to expect in the brave new 14-school world of the SEC, this may be it.
The Southeastern Conference’s new-look football schedule for 2012 may result in the end of a television staple.
Florida and Tennessee have met every year on CBS since the network became the primary broadcaster of SEC games in 1996, but that matchup has stout company this year because of the juggling that occurred when Texas A&M and Missouri joined the league. The Gators and Volunteers are playing in Knoxville on Sept. 15, which is the same day Alabama and Arkansas will vie in Fayetteville.
“Normally you don’t have that kind of selection on that day because Alabama and Arkansas in past schedules has been a week later,” CBS Sports executive vice president Mike Aresco said. “Alabama and Arkansas is a game we’ve done the last three years, so it does give us some options on that first Saturday.”
Lord knows, when you’re spending top dollar, it’s good to have options. And Florida and Tennessee haven’t exactly torn it up the last two seasons. So on one level, I understand why this might come about. But it’s still a little disconcerting to see a staple – a meteor game which is the only league contest CBS has shown all 16 years – casually tossed aside like a Mississippi State-Kentucky game (they, too, combined to go 12-13 last season, if you’re counting).
This isn’t an eight-game vs. nine-game conference schedule complaint. It’s more of a “this is what you get when you rush into a half-assed decision because you’re worried about other conferences making more TV money than you are” one. The more fallout I see, the more I’m convinced there isn’t any overarching plan in place to manage the conference’s growth other than the obvious rake in as much green as you can approach. I guess in today’s SEC, that’s what constitutes being fan friendly.