… But the 2012 schedule, however, was the creation of the league officials to suit their purposes in breaking Mizzou and Texas A&M into the league. In light of how well Georgia did in 2011 – and was projected to do in 2012 – the SEC should have kept Georgia-Alabama; it certainly would have been the marquee East-West cross-division game of the season, and would have balanced out the newly-created LSU-South Carolina game. Between the Dawgs and the Tide, however, somebody got a pass from the boys in Birmingham – arguably both, since the defending NC Tide shouldn’t have received any breaks either. In fact, the front office guys could not have failed to notice that UGA will have only played one of the Alabama-Arkansas-LSU trifecta just three times from ’09 to ’12 [LSU and Arkie in 2009 and Arkie in 2010]. In the same period [2009-2012], however, South Carolina, Florida and Tennessee have each turned the trick 6 times and Vandy 5; only lowly UK (3) has been sheltered as much as UGA – and never two years straight…
Three quick things in response to that. First, as a Georgia fan looking at the weakest home schedule in years, I would have loved for the Dawgs to have taken on Alabama in Athens than Ole Miss. But – this leads to my second point – had that happened, Georgia would have gotten screwed on the scheduling front by forfeiting the second leg of its home-and-home with the Rebel Black Bears. For better or worse, that was a game Georgia expected to play.
Third, and most importantly, when did SEC cross-division scheduling become all about Alabama, Arkansas and LSU? Historically speaking, Georgia’s permanent West opponent has been more formidable than South Carolina’s. Shouldn’t that matter? I’d say yes, although it does come in handy stoking the indignation when you can point to three East schools playing last year’s trinity in the West more often than Georgia has in the past three seasons because each of the three had one of Alabama, Arkansas or LSU as its permanent division opponent. (Besides, what’s with the ’09 cutoff, anyway? You don’t think it’s a convenient way of dodging the fact that Georgia played both Alabama and LSU in 2008, do you? Naaaaah.)
Look, it’s nature of the beast and all that. There’s always going to be an ebb and flow when you don’t play every conference team in a season. The problem in 2012 isn’t that the fix was in at the SEC office. It’s that the SEC office fixed the conference schedule at eight games. There are only two cross-divisional games this season and if you’re one of the East teams which has one of the current big three in the West as a permanent opponent, you’re going to be at a disadvantage. And it’s a disadvantage that will continue if the conference sticks with an eight-game schedule (assuming that nothing changes in the character of the Western programs, of course).
If you think that’s unfair, the solution isn’t to rejigger the schedule every season in hopes of getting matchups which reflect teams’ strength from the season before, à la the NFL. It’s to be pushing for a nine-game conference schedule, so that the odds of your divisional rivals playing the better teams in the other division improve.